Adventurous jazz bassist and composer Mario Pavone became increasingly active in NY jazz for several decades starting in the 1970s. Pavone is perhaps best known for his tenure as bassist in the Thomas Chapin Trio, and a frequent collaborator of Anthony Braxton's, as well as for his own dates as a leader. Pavone got a relatively late start playing the bass, picking up the instrument in the early '60s at the age of 24. He took lessons from Bertram Turetzky and, after getting his engineering degree from the University of Connecticut, began playing professionally in 1965. In 1967, Pavone attended the funeral of John Coltrane and decided to give up engineering for music permanently, playing with pianist Paul Bley that year and into 1968.
During NY's loft scene, Pavone made music with trumpeter Bill Dixon (with whom he has often performed in the decades since), Archie Shepp and more. He started his own label, named Alarca, in the 1970s and led three dates for it over the next decade. In the late '70s, he found an array of collaborating and innovative musicians based out of Connecticut, including Ray Anderson, percussionist Pheeroan akLaff, drummer Gerry Hemingway, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Mark Helias, trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and many more. Pavone and many of these musicians co-founded the Creative Musicians' Improviser's Forum, a sort of Connecticut version of Chicago's AACM. The 1980s found Pavone recording frequently with Dixon for the Soul Note label, and from here he stepped into his crucial role in the Thomas Chapin Trio.
Saxophonist and flutist Chapin went on to lead many albums, with Pavone and drummer Michael Sarin as the rhythm section on all of Chapin's Knitting Factory releases. In addition to Pavone's own Alarca dates, he led two for the New World label in the early '90s which included Chapin, Marty Ehrlich, Joshua Redman and Peter Madsen, among others. They were 1991's Toulon Days, and 1993's Song for (Septet), which was a critic's pick that was later named NAIRD's Jazz Record of the Year. Pavone also recorded with Anthony Braxton for the Music & Arts and Knitting Factory labels during this time. Beginning in the late '90s, Pavone began recording as a leader for Knitting Factory. The first release, Dancer's Tales (1997), was as a sextet (one less than his last two albums), which again included Chapin. Unfortunately, his frequent collaborator and bandmate Thomas Chapin died in early 1998. Remembering Thomas was Pavone's next album, this time featuring a tight trio of himself, Madsen and drummer Matt Wilson. It was Pavone's best date yet, a strong album that was fitting tribute to Chapin. ~ Joslyn Layne
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