By Troy Dostert
It’s great to see Clean Feed adding a veteran of Mario Pavone’s stature to its roster. The label has done such a fine job in recent years of documenting many of the most creative and forward-thinking artists in jazz and free improvisation, and bassist Pavone certainly deserves to be in the conversation as one of them, especially when it comes to the piano-bass-drums trio format, arguably the most appropriate showcase for Pavone’s distinctive talents. A couple years ago Pavone released Arc Trio, an exceptionally fine outing with Gerald Cleaver and Craig Taborn.
And with this iteration of Pavone’s trio (what he calls “Arc Trio Blue”) we have Blue Dialect, this time with the no-less-impressive Tyshawn Sorey on drums and Matt Mitchell on piano. It’s another superb entry in Pavone’s catalog of expertly-crafted post-bop recordings.
As expected, the trio’s musicianship is first-rate. Mitchell in particular is a revelation, with a seemingly endless array of patterns and phrases at his command; his two-handed runs are especially convincing and effective. He’s able to articulate the serpentine logic of Pavone’s compositions while at the same time pushing them forward, putting his own stamp on them. Sorey’s understated, sympathetic and fluid drumming is the perfect rhythmic foundation for pieces that sometimes develop unpredictably, with subtle shifts in dynamics and tempo. And as always, Pavone is a marvel, staying in close rapport with Sorey and Mitchell even while undertaking his own high-wire explorations.
Highlights include the second cut, “Xapo,” a Monkish piece, deceptively simple, that allows plenty of room for Mitchell’s relentless investigations; “Silver Print,” featuring Sorey and Pavone in extraordinary near-telepathic conversation, both goading and responding to Mitchell; and “Trio Dialect,” a forceful, propulsive group improvisation with far more ideas than seems possible in under five minutes.
For a compelling glimpse of the trio in action, see the following clip from a performance from last year: