Jessica Pavone is a Brooklyn based composer/string instrumentalist that has been constantly busy since 2000 writing and performing in a wide variety of projects. Whether in her duo with Mary Halvorson, in The Thirteenth Assembly, in any number of Anthony Braxton’s tone combinations, or leading her soul group The Pavones, Jessica always brings a strong and individual approach to composition and improvisation. She has several new albums in the works, including a new one with Mary on Thirsty Ear, The Thirteenth Assembly debut on Important Records, and the first Pavones album. She is also busy composing new string quartet music for an upcoming April performance at The Kitchen in NYC.
In her own words: “The string quartet substitutes a second violin for a double bass and is inspired by an interest in the simplistic beauty of folk songs, a belief that one’s ability to accompany oneself in song as one of the more natural expressions of music, as well as my dealing with Leonard Cohen’s permission to live outside this world.”
1: What got you into creative/improvised music making, and what keeps you there?
I started free improvising with no knowledge of creative or improvised music. It just happened. I started playing with a violin player. We would “talk” to each other. Then I started to learn that there was a whole world of improvised music out there. I started doing my research.
2: Breakthrough album(s) and Why?
Here are some records that I wore the grooves out of in various periods of my life for various reasons: (life, love, pure sonic pleasure…)
John Coltane – Live at Birdland (side one)
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Love and Hate, Songs of Leonard Cohen, and Live Songs
Bob Dylan – Bringing it All Back Home (side two), Highway 61 Revisited
Marvin Gaye – Whats Going On
The Clash – Combat Rock (side one)
Sun Ra – Super Sonic Jazz and Spaceship Lullaby
Jim O’Rourke – Insignificance
Otis Redding – EVERYTHING (lately, Remember Me and Live in Europe)
Leroy Jenkins – Space Minds, New Worlds and the Survival of America
Beethoven – complete piano sonatas
Morton Feldman – Patterns on a Chromatic Field and String Quartet and Piano
John Cage – String Quartet in Four Parts
The Yea Yea Yeas – Show Your Bones (tracks 1, 2, 5, 6, 8, 11)
The Ramones – (All-but not a big fan of End of the Century ‘cept for “I Want You Around”)
The Impressions – This is My Country
Alice Coltrane with Strings – World Galaxy
The Talking Heads – Fear of Music
David Bowie – Changes One Bowie
Nirvana – Bleach, Nevermind
The Miracles – Hi We’re the Miracles
Led Zeppelin – I, II, Houses of the Holy
Love – Self Titled (side one)
The Sea and Cake – The Fawn
Air – Mail
3: How do other art disciplines affect your work?
Physical exercise effects my work. Physical exercise isn’t an art discipline, but it is a discipline. My practicing habits grow from my participation in physical exercise and vice versa.
Film effects my work by forcing me to think of creating new worlds and fictional places which can be translated into sound worlds. Watching films broadens my imagination when I am composing and helps me dig deeper into the depths of my intuition and imagination.
I am an avid fan of painting and a painter myself. Painting has influenced me creatively because it is an art form that I have never formally studied. I am not inhibited by any learned technique when I paint as I sometimes am when I work on music. I have no technique as a painter so I’ve created my own. I don’t second guess myself, because I have no expectations having never studied visual art in any way. Painting has helped me tap into pure creativity.
I often compose pieces that are short and in groups or collections which fit with each other. I prefer that to composing one ginormous piece. I’ve often thought of these works as collections of poems.
4: Favorite Film(s)?
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Dirty Dancing, Godfather I and II, Fire Walk With Me, Taxi Driver, The US vs. John Lennon, Don’t Look Back, Do the Right Thing, Rear Window, The Blues Brothers.
5: Favorite Film Score(s)?
Angelo Badalamenti, Nino Rota (composers)
6: Favorite Fiction Reading?
Anything Paul Auster – specifically Oracle Night, Leviathan and Moon Palace
Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginides.
7: Favorite Non-Fiction Reading?
Musicians biographies and books about how we fucked up the food we eat and the world we live in.
8: Favorite Guilty Pleasure Music?
Hmm, I’m not sure what that means..
9: Favorite Under Rated Musician(s)?
10: Recommended Artist(s)/Shout Outs?
Harris Eisenstadt, Sara Schoenbeck, Jeremiah Cymerman, Matthew Welch, Jason Cady, Brandon Seabrook, Mary Halvorson, Judith Berkson, Mazz Swift, Matt Bauder, Josh Abrams, Brian Chase, Peter Evans, Devin Hoff, Ches Smith, Matana Roberts, Katie Young, Loren Dempster, Emily Manzo