Mario Pavone: Boom

Those expecting an exclusively outside session from Mario Pavone might be surprised by the thematic diversity on Boom (Playscape). Certainly Pavone, tenor/soprano saxophonist Tony Malaby, pianist Peter Madsen and drummer Matt Wilson can and sometimes do engage in the frenzied collective passages and dialogues usually lumped under the avant-garde banner, but they also do sentimental pieces like “Julian” and “Short Yellow” as well as fiery, long works such as “Bad Birdie” and “Bastos.” There are even some songs on Boom that feature catchy melodies, and only the snippet “Po” sounds like aimless noodling rather than a cohesive composition. While there are times where things seem close to imploding, the tunes never degenerate into chaos. If anything, Boom is among the most melodically delightful, musically proficient works issued on the Playscape label, and much of it wouldn’t ruffle the feathers of the most rigid hard-bopper.