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News : Entertainment Jun 26, 2009 - 3:56 AM

Litchfield Jazz Camp teacher receives New Jazz Works Grant

By Litchfield Jazz Festival

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Mario Pavone performing at the Litchfield Jazz Festival. Photo by Antonio Monteiro
Mario Pavone, internationally respected bassist, Litchfield Performing Arts, Inc. board member, and Litchfield Jazz Camp teacher, has been awarded a 2009 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant. The grant is focused on commissioning new music and on ensemble development. He was one of a handful of recipients chosen from a pool of 161 applications.

Since 2000, Chamber Music America’s New Works programs have provided support to U.S. ensembles for the creation and performance of new jazz works. To date, New Works has supported over 100 new jazz compositions. CMA and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation have expanded the program to include longer-term benefits for recipients. As in the past, the program supports the creation and presentation of new compositions; now, it also supports additional activities that extend the life of the work and allow the ensemble leader to acquire or increase career-related business skills.

The $21,500 award will, among other activities, support two performances by the Mario Pavone Orange Double Tenor Ensemble, one of which is scheduled for the 2010 15th Anniversary of the Litchfield Jazz Festival, August 6 – 8. Members of the ensemble are Peter Madsen, piano, Gerald Cleaver, drums, Tony Malaby and Jimmy Greene, tenor saxophones, and Steven Bernstein, on trumpet.

Now in his 70th year, Pavone says, “I experienced first-hand not just the musicality of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus and Cecil Taylor, but the physical presence of these giants and the sociopolitical issues their work addressed. It is about this” he told the CMA grants committee, “ that I wish to write: to re-envision in today's idiom the feeling, the ethos, and energy of that time and those people… with an earnestness and a spirit that speaks, as the masters did, of "something to fight for--as a cause to defend” he says, quoting Ben Ratliff of the New York Times describing Pavone’s work.

Mario Pavone has been on the jazz scene for almost 40 years, appearing at clubs and festival around the world. He began playing bass in the early 60s when he was so moved by the work of the post-bop innovators and the death of John Coltrane, its leading proponent, he abruptly abandoned an engineering career and flung himself exclusively into music. His first big break came in 1964 with pianist Paul Bley. Over the years he has played with many A-list musicians, including, Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, Jane Ira Bloom, Dewey Redman and many others. In addition to his ongoing activities as a bandleader, Pavone's artwork and photography have graced the covers of dozens of recordings.

He was a top 2007 recipient of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism Artist Fellowship Grant. In 2008, he received a CCCT Special Initiatives Grant. He currently serves as an educator and board member for Litchfield Performing Arts. Mario has been a teaching artist at Litchfield Jazz Camp since 1998 and began the camp’s composition course, which he teachers, in 2006. For more information visit and

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