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Remembering Thomas by Mario Pavone Nu Trio

Despite its supposed Lower East Side démodé status (Tonic is in, Knitting Factory out), we have a lot to thank the Knitting Factory for, not the least of which is its standing as New Music DIY darling. This latest bass led offering by the great Mario Pavone and his Nu Trio is the surest way for the club’s sister label to muffle nay sayer shouts of passé. Pavone’s tribute to his former trio mate Thomas Chapin is a no looking back homage to the great New Music alto saxophonist. Though often tribute discs tend toward the balladic (and mawkish); here the leader offers a disc of which the powerful Chapin would be proud.

As he says in the liner notes, the bassist always felt that Chapin wrote "Big Band music for trio" and each piece on the disc - whether written by Chapin or Pavone - vouches for that. There is some ballad playing (Chapin’s "Aeolus") but mostly Pavone, pianist Peter Madsen and drummer Matt Wilson attack this music with the intensity of three wolverines fighting over a lamb chop. The music - so much bigger than the trio format would indicate - shouts, sputters and rumbles with the pop of brass that’s not there. Pavone’s bass, always miraculously big, here slaps and tickles the sonic swirl along driving his band mates on to rambunctious heights. Chapin’s "Bypass" is more beautiful noise than six hands can humanly muster and "Aeolus" shows these three can play with soul aching poignancy as well. It’s as if the three are fighting to raise the saxophonist from the grave.

Try as I might, I cannot find a detraction for this exemplary disc except to say that Peter Madsen’s piano cannot come close to appropriating the ferocious organism that is Thomas Chapin’s saxophone. That’s not intended as a knock but as a plea for those who enjoy the free frolicking edge of this music to go on and seek out Chapin’s catalog. His playing is truly life affirming.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mario Pavone Nu Trio
  • CD Title: Remembering Thomas
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: Knitting Factory
  • Musicians: Pavone: bass; Peter Madsen: piano; Matt Wilson: drums.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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