The Latest from Violist-Composer Jessica Pavone is a String-Driven Contemplation on Female Empowerment

With 'Clamor,' the ever-inventive Jessica Pavone levels up her game with a worthy ensemble work | Courtesy of the artist

A longtime fixture on the NYC improvisation scene, violist-composer Jessica Pavone continues her forward-thinking musical endeavors with her latest release, Clamor.

A four-movement suite performed by Pavone and a sextet of strings and woodwinds, each movement of Clamor is a kind of poignant homage to things that women have created as a subterfuge against systems put in place to confine them. The 12-minute opener, “Neolttwigi,” derives its name from a 17th-century see-saw that Korean women invented to be able to catch glimpses over the walls of the properties where they were imprisoned. Pavone and her ensemble find certain light in this dark source.

Opening with harmonic and enharmonic intervals of strings, “Neolttwigi” gradually expands outward from a basic theme, widening into a drone by the ensemble. Nearly halfway into this ebb and flow, as tones shift back and forth like the device that inspired the piece’s title, Pavone leads the group in a call-and-response, then guides them toward the song’s ends, which crystallizes into an exhilarating crunch of bowed strings and overtones. 

Along with her longtime collaboration with guitarist Mary Halvorson, Pavone has worked with avant-reed players Anthony Braxton and Henry Threadgill and cellist Paul de Jong and appeared as a leader or side player on more than 20 albums. Now with Clamor, the ever-inventive Pavone levels up her game with a worthy ensemble work.

In this article: