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Mario Pavone Nu Trio/Quintet: Mythos

With his Nu Trio/Quintet, Mario Pavone directs in a way that a bassist/leader should, but on Mythos (Playscape) he does so in a language that’s so far out it’s not difficult to believe that he earned an engineering degree at the University of Connecticut before he even discovered the bass. At 24 he began his second profession, plunging head first into the avant-garde world of New York City playing with the likes of Paul Bley, Archie Shepp and Rashied Ali-heady company for a newcomer. Now in his 60s, Pavone has found his niche, thanks to the brilliant pianist Peter Madsen and perpetual-motion drummer Matt Wilson. (Michael Sarin spells Wilson on three tracks.) The quintet is formed with the addition of trumpeter Steven Bernstein and tenor saxophonist Tony Malaby. Pavone’s writing is so harmonically daring and unpredictable that those with the technique of a Madsen or Wilson tend to bury the bass line. Imagine the texture when the horns are added. Unless Pavone is actually soloing, there are not enough opportunities to fully appreciate this late bloomer’s bass playing. Check “Sky Piece” and “Dancers Tales” for the beauty of his tone and “Isobars” for his instinct to swing.

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