Mario Pavone Dialect Trio +1

August 1, 2022

Blue Vertical
Out of Your Head Records OOH 010

A fine and final send off, the inspired playing by all concerned on Blue Vertical never suggests that this disc would be veteran bassist Mario Pavone’s last. Less than two months after it was recorded he died on May 15 2021 at the age of 80. Pavone, who worked with Pau Bley and Bill Dixon among many others, has equivalent musical talents interpreting his nine compositions here. They’re trumpeter Dave Ballou, pianist Matt Mitchell and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, all of whom also have extensive credits.

No tune is dominated by Pavone’s sterling rhythm. Instead it’s mostly used for emphasis or to spell out the initial narrative as on “Good Treble”, which also features a circular piano line and plunger brass notes. By default Ballou, also responsible for the arrangements, becomes the lead player. True to the group’s cooperative ethos though, his flutters and trill are frequently expressed in double counterpoint with Mitchell. Most of the time, as on the introductory “Twardzik” and other tracks such as “Philosophy Series” and “Legacy Stories” a simple strategy is evoked among the four.

On “Twardzik” for instance, the trumpeter’s portamento sparks and brassy flutter tonguing is advanced in lockstep with discursive keyboard pitter patter – with Mitchell  channeling Dick Twardzik perhaps – as well as subtle cymbal slaps that eventually lead the piece back to its straight-ahead head. A fantastic display of triplet shading from Ballou uplifts “Philosophy Series”. Set up with double brass grace note and pushed along by symmetrical piano runs, the conclusion harmonizes thick bass thumps and rounded trumpet notes. The only track on which Pavone really moves up front, during the introduction to “Legacy Stories”,  is characterized by sophisticated scene-setting string thumps, slides and returns. It’s completed by a duo of muted trumpet and circular piano splashes.

Ballou’s portamento slides plus Mitchell’s and Sorey’s sympathetic responses and elaboration nay stand out most on this session. However most crucially, the tunes make up Pavone’s final legacy, and these performances succinctly outline those carefully crafted sounds that can’t be recreated in the future.

–Ken Waxman

Vertical 7. Good Treble 8. Legacy Stories 9. Face Music

Personnel: Dave Ballou (trumpet); Matt Mitchell (piano);  Mario Pavone (bass) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums)