Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mario Pavone - Song For Septet (New World, 1994)

Mario Pavone has been in the trenches of creative jazz for nearly forty years now as a bassist and composer, and has built an impressive track record both as a leader and as a sideman (most notably with the great Thomas Chapin Trio.) On this recording, he assembles a heavy hitting little big band with Marty Ehrlich on alto saxophone and bass clarinet; Thomas Chapin on alto saxophone and flute; Peter McEachern on trombone; Bill Ware on vibraphone; Peter Madsen on piano and Steve Johns on drums. The band mixes classical touches with excellent ensemble playing an soloing for a very nice effort that was rewarded as one of the best CDs of the year by the New York Times (1/5/95 p. C15)

"George in Avenue A" begins the CD appropriately enough with some solo bass before the band enters with a yearning melody. A deeply percussive piano solo and vibraphone work propel the music forward. " 3 M Blues" has a jumpy melody with muted trombone getting a bit of an old-timey feel and then an exciting alto saxophone solo before some interesting trombone and piano interaction. "Dance Off" has a slow, brooding piano introduction before a clarinet begins to probe the depths of the composition while some gentle flute glides along on top. "Chapulines" finds the saxophones bobbing and weaving in a complete pattern with some overblowing creating a joyous feel before the band kicks in giving the music a little-big-band feel. "Song for M" gets a swanky feel with a piano and vibes interaction before the reeds take over and there a long unaccompanied section for clarinet and alto saxophone that takes on a nearly classical feel.

"Chiro" gets a distinctive trombone opening, slurring out long tones before an elastic bass solo takes command. Some of Thomas Chapin's beautiful flute playing is also featured. "The Door" has some very romantic saxophone and rippling piano before jumping into a swinging feature for alto backed by vibes. "8 Count" wraps things up with all horns on deck for a fast group improvisation. Trombone breaks away from the pack and makes good on some extensive solo space before clarinets build up to a bootin' sax solo to climax the proceedings. A fine sendoff to a very good CD.

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