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Mario Pavone: Sharpeville

This is a reissue of music recorded in the mid-’80s and released on Pavone’s Alacra label. Readers probably need to be reminded that Sharpville was a South African township much in the news of the time, but if the title has dated, the music certainly hasn’t. Marty Ehrlich and the late Thomas Chapin make quite a section, with both playing alto and flute, Ehrlich adding clarinet and alto flute, and Chapin also heard on bass flute. Pavone writes exceptionally well, often building things on repeated figures, which would seem a logical way for a bassist to compose, but he uses this approach in a lot of different ways. One is impressed by the simple lyricism wedded to an advanced harmonic sense.

At times the writing evokes Dave Holland’s better efforts, especially Conference of the Birds. Pavone also plays some monster solos and combines well with the very subtle drummer, Pheeroan Ak Laff, to provide just the right underpinning. Ehrlich and Chapin are both in fine form, playing off each other beautifully and shining individually. This is a most welcome reissue, particularly in light of the limited number of Chapin recordings available.

Originally Published