Last month was a typical month for bassist Mario Pavone. He made two recordings, wrote and article for All About Jazz, prepared music for a fall tour, prepared material for a two-week teaching stint at Litchfield Jazz Camp, and kept track of business at Litchfield Performing Arts, the parent of Litchfield Jazz Camp and Jazz Festival, where he is president emeritus and a current board member. This would be enough to finish off the best of us. Oh, did I mention, Mr. Pavone is 72 years old? Apparently you don’t need the fountain of youth. Jazz does it better!
Pavone, a Waterbury, CT, native, has been on the jazz scene for more than 40 years. But his career has been in overdrive since 2009 when he won a coveted New Works grant from the Doris Duke Foundation through Chamber Music America. With that funding he created for his Orange Double Tenor Ensemble Trio Arc Suite (Playscape Records) which won a 4-1/2 star rating (out of 5) from the review site ALLMUSIC, was a pick of the year by Downbeat Magazine, performed the New Work at the Litchfield Jazz Festival in 2010 and that concert was later aired on NPR’s Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater produced by WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark, NJ.
A founding faculty member of the 16-year-old Litchfield Jazz Camp, Pavone decided last summer to create an orchestra at the camp comprised of high level professional players, teaching assistants and campers. He refers to the concept as vertical integration, and it works. For this summer the New England Foundation for the Arts presented the Litchfield Camp/Festival with a grant to help him expand the concept.
“For 15 years” says Pavone my compositions have been studied and played by a superb group of musician/educators that make up our faculty, year after year. This Large Orchestra Project (now 18) seems a natural outgrowth of this history and those opportunities. The orchestra will conduct three days of open rehearsals where students and the public are invited to observe that intricate process where musicians prepare a performance.”
The effort will culminate on Thursday, August 2 at 7 PM at Kent School’s Mattison Auditorium, where two new works by Mr. Pavone will be performed by saxophonists Wayne Escoffery, Jimmy Greene, Mike Di Rubbo, Kris Allen, Claire Daly and Caroline Davis; trombonists Peter McEachern, Rob Nelson, Joe Beatty and Daniel Sims; trumpeters Russ Johnson, Jean Caze, Nick Roseboro, Wallace Roney Jr; pianist Julian Shore; bassists Mario Pavone and Sean Pentland and Robin Baytas on drums. Robin, Daniel, and Wallace are prodigiously talented students. The ages of the players here range from 15 to 72.
“At Litchfield Jazz Camp,” says its founder and Director Vita Muir, “that’s the way we play it! Thanks to the NEFA funding, we were able to commission trumpeter Dave Ballou to arrange the works for orchestra and conduct the project.”
Admission is free for the 7PM concert at 1 Macedonia Rd in Kent. For more information on any of the players or the project, visit www.litchfieldjazzcamp.com, or call 860-361-6285. Also, connect with the Camp on www.facebook.com/litchfieldjazzcamp.
In addition to the New England Foundation from the Arts Grant for this project, Litchfield Jazz Camp receives major support from the CT State Department of Education Interdistrict Grants and additional support for its programming and scholarship students from The Joe Williams Every Day Fund, NAMM Foundation, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Berklee College of Music, Exploring the Arts, The Allen Family Fund at The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jazz’d for Life, Nassau Music Educators Association Scholarship Account, The Sinclair Family/ GE Foundation, The Turley Family/McCall MacBain and LPA members.
Photo of Mario Pavone at the 2010 Litchfield Jazz Festival by Steven Sussman.