AMN Reviews: Jessica Pavone – Lull (2021; Chaikin Records)

Jessica Pavone continues to put out music that is both fulfilling and challenging. We have previously reviewed her efforts as a leader here, here, and here. On this new outing, which is due to be released on October 22, Pavone explores a more orchestral form with a string octet (two each of violins, violas, cellos, and double basses) accompanied by soloists Nate Wooley on trumpet and Brian Chase on percussion.

Her approach employs layered drones, with the varied string instruments creating overlapped tones with walled sounds and echoing patterns that have a distinctively cinematic feel. But Pavone’s charts allow for some improvisation as well, which occasionally meanders into the pleasingly discordant. Her guidance to the instrumentalists is not unlike that of Riley – basic frameworks and timings for interpretation.

Chase leads the second track (Holt), constraining himself to deliberate strikes of midrange and bass drums while the stringed instruments saw through controlled tone clusters. Wooley joins late in the track with a set of expressive and angular extended techniques. On the third track (Ingot), Wooley and the octet provide slow atmospheres. These change in character into a pattern of pulses with static and Wooley’s trumpet maintaining a wavering drone, until transforming back to atmospherics.

Simply put, Jessica Pavone keeps getting better and better. Lull is possibly her strongest release in a career of strong releases.

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