Ancestors: Mario Pavone
Mario Pavone – bassist
Tony Malaby – tenor & soprano sax
Jimmy Greene – tenor & soprano sax
Peter Madsen – piano
Gerald Cleaver – drums
1. Ancestors
2. Strata Blue
3. Tomes
4. Iskmix
5. Arc For Puppy
6. Beige Structure
7. Pachuca
8. Andrew
Ancestors is bassist/composer Mario Pavone's 10th recording as a leader/co-leader on Playscape Recordings and the recorded debut of his newest working ensemble, the Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet. This recording features eight original Pavone compositions written specifically for its all-star line-up of veteran Pavone collaborators, and was further shaped by guest arrangers Dave Ballou, Steven Bernstein and Michael Musillami. The music is dedicated to recently passed jazz legends Andrew Hill and Dewey Redman, whom Pavone calls "part of the spectrum of his musical forebears."

"I had been playing with Tony and Jimmy for more than eight years, but always separately, so I was keen to combine their complementary yet contrasting styles into one group," Pavone explains. "Gerald and I have played and recorded a lot together and the great Peter Madsen, who has appeared on my last nine CDs, is almost indispensable to me. Wrapping my rhythm section around a double tenor color like this, especially one with this much grace and power, was a dream come true. The resulting sound seems larger than just five players and is almost orchestral. It may well be my favorite album so far."
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Top 10 for 2008
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Top 50 CDs of 2008
— JazzTimes
I've always liked Mario Pavone, but wow, this album really knocked my socks off. Great inside/out jazz, accessible modern stuff that's packed with tangly, complex ideas, free-jazz soloing, and some tough-handed bass playing by Pavone.
— Wedge, KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford, CA)
For Ancestors, he returns to his forte: intellectual modern jazz composition infused with freewheeling improvisation. Pavone dedicates the record to two of his heroes: Dewey Redman and Andrew Hill, and their influence is heard in the inside/outside aesthetic of the proceedings. Tight ensemble sections give way to free improv, atonal bass solos lead into robust melodic statements by the two-tenor front line. The result is some really engaging, masterfully performed modern jazz that reveals more with each listen.
— Lucas Gillian,, well-hooked compositions and a sterling rhythm section rounded out by Peter Madsen and Gerald Cleaver...Like its predecessors, the album has a rallying spirit and a progressive bead on traditional practice. It is what jazz needs from its eminent leaders.
— Bill Shoemaker, DownBeat
Malaby and Greene (who both double on soprano) are a great fit, diving in with an uncanny sense of melodic invention and just the right touch of grit and muscle. Madsen's piano anchors the music with a light touch and incredible sophistication, and Cleaver propels the music with a lithe sense of swing. The leader steers things with an assured sense of pulse and flow, his stalwart bass a guiding force throughout.
— Michael Rosenstein, Signal to Noise
There's a roller coaster feel to the bassist's sax-centric new music. On Ancestors he gives careening rhythms all sorts of leeway. It's a strategy that teems with excitement when played out by horn men Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene, yet as volatile as they get with their high-flying polyphony, the band's inherent swing helps cushion the action.
— Jim Macnie, Village Voice
As befits a band with a bassist as its leader, it's the rhythm section that drives the music, particularly Pavone's springy bass and pianist Peter Madsen's exploding chords. Along with drummer Gerald Cleaver they would make a fantastic recorded trio, but the inclusion of saxophonists Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene make this small group sound like a rollicking big band.
— Jeff Stockton, AllAboutJazz-New York
...the music is clever, carefully composed, fast and nervous, full of surprises and drama, with great improvisations by a star cast of today's jazz musicians...for the post-bop modern jazz fan, this album surely is a must.
— Stef Gijssels, Free Jazz
...a program of eight songs filled with improvisatory fire and excellent arrangements. Madsen is his usual highly creative self, with a style that blends the ferocious fire of Cecil Taylor with the funkiness of Keith Jarrett (but always sounding like himself). Mario Pavone continues to blaze new trails in creative music and we are the lucky followers.
— Richard Kamins, Hartford Courant
Mario Pavone is a splendid composer and bandleader...He plays with horn-like agility without compromising the bass' essential characteristics. His group plays a highly evolved postbop, his compositions (arranged by Steven Bernstein, Dave Ballou and Michael Musillami) combine odd-time vamps, intricate melodies and knotty chord progressions with an open-ended modality that provides the soloists maximum freedom. This is sophisticated, exciting music.
— Chris Kelsey, JazzTimes
The very idea of a two-tenor front line is potentially fraught with complication but Pavone has been scrupulous with regards to who occupies the roles. Malaby's work is the more fractious of the two whilst Greene, working a freer seam than the one he might be more readily associated with, brings to his work a kind of agitated grace which is symptomatic of a multi-faceted musician who's really coming into his own. The fact that the rhythm trio is so flexible and alert to every possibility seems to lend the music an air of simplicity, which is no small feat considering the complexity of the base material.
— Nic Jones,
The quintet fluidly modulates between graceful precision and brash abandon, relying on keen listening skills and dexterous interplay to navigate these labyrinthine pieces. Swinging with kinetic force, galloping bass pulses and crystalline piano shards punctuate quicksilver trap set ruminations as the paired saxophonists uncoil visceral cadences. The quintet handles these tricky charts with aplomb, interpreting them with carefree enthusiasm...the session's most compelling aspect is the nuanced discourse between the paired saxophonists. Together they weave a rich mosaic that veers from unfettered to virtuosic, encapsulating the entire history of their instruments in circuitous dialogues. For those inclined towards more adventurous fare, this is essential listening.
— Troy Collins,
It might be cliché to say that the recording Ancestors by Mario Pavone's Double Tenor Quintet has caught lightning in a bottle, but this is indeed a potent feat of extraordinary music making. Pavone's Double Tenor Quintet assembles long-time collaborators into a new and a very stirring combination. The fireworks here are brought about by pairing two muscular saxophonists, Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene, with this charged rhythm section.
— Mark Corroto,
Mario Pavone has put together a marvelous all-star quintet and this disc captures them gloriously. What makes this music special is the consistently demanding charts that Mario has written for this quintet. The entire quintet must navigate the treacherous rapids that Mario has come up with. One of this year's finest!
— Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery
On his day, Mario Pavone is one of the very best - and when on his game, by far the best - small-group composer/leaders working on the East Coast. Pavone has rarely sounded so rich, but he sits back with the group rather than punching a hole in the sonic plaster and making a space for himself outside. It's an exemplary piece of writing, of arranging, of playing, and of recording and production.
— Brian Morton,