Arc Suite T/Pi T/Po
True to its name, Mario Pavone’s Orange Double Tenor sextet thrives on the dual horns of Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene. Returning from Pavone’s acclaimed 2008 quintet effort, Ancestors, they bolster and expand his intricate, neatly ordered freebop compositions with their strong, varied tones, sometimes framing the harmonies and sometimes pushing against harmonic boundaries (and, in Malaby’s case, sometimes doubling on soprano).
But it would be a mistake to overlook the vital contribution of pianist Peter Madsen, a longtime cohort of Pavone’s whose freewheeling solos and lyrical east-west jaunts lend a liquid center to this earthy music and contrast to the leader’s bold, sometimes roaring basslines. Playing the same upstart role that Jaki Byard and Don Pullen played for Charles Mingus—whose influence is never more than a shadow away here—Madsen is the ace who keeps this house of cards upright.
Pavone, who turned 70 last year, largely remains an unsung jazz hero in America, but has earned the recognition of prestigious groups like Chamber Music America, which commissioned the “Arc Suite.” Though the continually unfolding work is more refined than some of Pavone’s classic efforts, its energy never flags. The music is clipped and angular, pushed further out by trumpeter Dave Ballou and powered by drummer Gerald Cleaver, with few legato effects or stretched phrases. With slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein adding joyful noise to the final track (he contributes three arrangements to the album, to go with three by Ballou and two each by Pavone and Michael Musillami), the suite ends on an especially high note.