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Mario Pavone Nu Trio/Quintet: Orange

Bassist Mario Pavone worked as an industrial engineer before he switched to jazz full-time, and it’s hard to imagine that the bassist’s first career didn’t have some sort of influence on his current one. Perhaps best known for his association with Anthony Braxton and his regular presence for years in Thomas Chapin’s trio, Pavone has released a steady stream of work on his own, and it all comes packed with Pavone’s muscular, streamlined music. Not dense but rather compacted or designed to eliminate dead weight, Pavone’s postbop compositions mix a biting intelligence with a hard-wound feel for the blues.

On Orange, Pavone delivers another strong set of compositions performed either by a trio including pianist Peter Madsen and drummer Gerald Cleaver or by a group expanded to include trumpeter/slide trumpeter Steven Bernstein and saxophonist Tony Malaby. Malaby, a brawny player and Mingus Big Band alumnus, should have been a great player to slot in here-Pavone’s music and bandleading do draw in no small part from Mingus’ example-but his contributions are flat in places. Leave it to the chirpy, animated Bernstein not only to spike Pavone’s music with a welcome touch of classic jazz but also to provide the perfect extrovert foil to the understated Malaby. Their clever horn lines over Pavone’s growling bass are some of the best things going here. The trio performances suffer for lack of that sharp interplay.

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