Mario Pavone recorded two albums in the final stages of cancer that he fought for 17 years when 2021 was starting: “Blue Vertical” (Out of Your Head Records) and this “Isabella”. Now that Pavone isn’t with us anymore, the second of these two final editions have a special significance: it’s a pungent tribute to his granddaughter Isabella, who died in 2020 when she was only 23 years old and whom, he said, «stole my heart since her birth». The feelings involved are deep and they’re reflected in the inner tissue of the music. Pavone had one thing in mind: «My joy will be in reuniting with her.» This is the anticipation of that joy turned into music.
An autodidact double bassist with very personal techniques (firstly shown to the world when he joined Bill Dixon and Thomas Chapin) and a rich musical mind needing the collaboration of others (Marty Ehrlich and Steven Bernstein in the past) to put it on paper, this time he had trumpeter Dave Ballou as the arranger and accomplice in translating his ideas to a group sound. With his son Michael playing guitar and with friends Mike DiRubbo and Michael Sarin, Pavone created the most beautiful suite about the noblest of all emotions, love, and about how love survives even death. ~BandCamp
All compositions by Mario Pavone (Pavo Publishing/BMI) | All arrangements by Dave Ballou
Blue Vertical is to be the final recording by the legendary bassist and composer Mario Pavone, who passed on May 15, 2021. Though in the final stages of a 17-year battle with cancer, Pavone pushed throughout the past seven weeks to make sure this music would be a part of his recorded legacy. On March 25 and 26 2021 he gathered his Dialect Trio with Matt Mitchell and Tyshawn Sorey (an active group since 2014), and the addition of his longtime collaborator Dave Ballou on trumpet, to record the music that has become Blue Vertical. Blue Vertical is releasing simultaneously with the album Isabella (Clean Feed), both of which are dedicated to Mario’s granddaughter, Isabella Pavone, a 23-year-old mother of four who died tragically in June 2020.
“Mario Pavone’s jazz can possibly be heard two different ways: the rhythmic and harmonic grids of bebop and all that descends from it, and the cathartic tracing-in-air of free jazz.” —Ben Ratliff, New York Times
“I’m just happy to get these two releases done. It took every bit of energy, and the music is what got me through. I’ve had a great life and I’m so appreciative of all the players who jumped in and generously contributed, from the heart. I’m grateful, happy, satisfied with my life, ready to move to this next cycle.”
The recording shows his partners in the Dialect Trio (Mitchell and Sorey) to be in their typical telepathic form, following Pavone into every nook and cranny of these compositions. Dave Ballou on trumpet (who also arranged all of this music for Pavone) adds another very welcome dimension to the overall sound. The way the trumpet melodies align with Mitchell’s right hand is stunning, and Ballou is clearly an equal member of a quartet and not the fourth wheel in a trio. The band plays with a sensitivity that is appropriate for the moment, but the recording is also joyous and celebratory. Mario Pavone has released 34 albums over the course of an almost 60-year career. Blue Vertical is the testament of life truly well-lived, and a beautiful final gift from an absolute master of this music.
Martin Johnson wrote a heartfelt and enlightening appreciation of Mario Pavone for NPR, which is well worth a read for additional background info. You can find the articleHERE
A full bio, additional info, and media spanning Mario’s entire career are available at mariopavone.com
Mario Pavone / Dialect Trio +1 – Blue Vertical (OOYH 010)
3) Blue Poles
5) Philosophy Series 6) Blue Vertical 7) Good Treble 8) Legacy Stories 9) Face Music
Mario Pavone – bass, compositions Dave Ballou – trumpet, arrangements Matt Mitchell – piano Tyshawn Sorey – drums
This album is dedicated to Isabella Pavone (November 12,1996 – June 10, 2020).