High Bias #11

NAME: Jessica Pavone
HOME: Brookyln NY
BIO: "Jessica Pavone is one of the busiest young performers on the city’s creative music scene,” declared Steve Dollar in a 2008 feature in the New York Sun, “lending her strings and a direct, personal style of playing them to all kinds of settings.” Jazz Review’s Philip Clark writes, “We learn things from her music that we didn’t already know. [Her] harmonic openness turns the microscope on herself and she responds with lines of honest clarity, an oblique perspective on the familiar.” AllMusic.com’s Charlie Wilmouth adds, “Her work possesses an uncommon amount of elegance…each piece is perfectly formed, expiring just as its tiny collection of melodic materials cycles through to its logical conclusion.”

Active in New York for the past decade, Ms. Pavone is best known for her work with the iconic Anthony Braxton, and a cadre of his former students that includes guitarist Mary Halvorson and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum. In addition to leading her own bands, such as The Pavones, she has also performed in improvising ensembles led by Jeremiah Cymerman, Laurence “Butch” Morris, Matana Roberts and Eliot Sharp, as well as such collective groups as the Mary Halvorson/Jessica Pavone Duo and The Thirteenth Assembly.

As a composer, she has earned grants and commissions from the Aaron Copland Recording Fund, the American Music Center, The Kitchen, MATA and the group, Till By Turning, which recently presented the European premiere of “Quotidian” at Faust’s Klangbad Festival 2009 in Germany. Her discography features more than 30 recordings, including recent releases from the Anthony Braxton 12+1tet, Taylor Ho Bynum & SpiderMonkey Strings and William Parker.

WEBSITE: www.jessicapavone.com

Do you read reviews of your work?

Sometimes. I tend to pay less attention to them in more recent years. I always give it a look, but I tend to skim depending on how the review is written or which band it is about.

Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

Yes, I have read, saved and quoted them. I save them less these days, because I can usually find them on the internet if I need to reference them.

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

No. I still work the way I am going to work, but I appreciate the feedback weather positive or negative.

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

There are a few writers that I feel like "get" me more than others and I am happy to read their opinions because often I learn something new about myself from their summary of my sound. I have never dreaded a writer to write about my work.

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?


Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Yes, there are two writers who I have become friends with. They were writing about me before we were friends and that is how we met. If they had positive things to say about me, it was not because they were my pal, because that came second. They still do write about my work. I don't feel like there is unfair favoritism but I do think they usually take more time to do the work justice. Or since they are familiar with my work already, they catch things that I am evolving more than someone hearing my work for the first time. It makes me feel safe actually, to know my review is in their hands, because more thought will be put into the review instead of just blank description with no insight.

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?


Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.


Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

No, but I wrote some extensive papers in graduate school about some of my peers work. I really enjoyed it and I learned so much from it. It was a new experience for me and a different approach to thinking about music. I definitely became more interested in the art of writing about music after this experience.

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I don't have an opinion about this

Anything you want to ask me?

Are there musicians you prefer writing about? Ones you dread? How much freedom do you have in choosing the artists you write about?

(Photo by Erica Magrey)

1 comment:

Kurt said...

Jessica asks:

"Are there musicians you prefer writing about? Ones you dread? How much freedom do you have in choosing the artists you write about?"

Who do I prefer writing about? Well, musicians who I haven't written about before, for one thing. It's hard to keep writing about the same musicians, at least for me, unless there are considerable changes in their work over time. I also like writing about musicians who project personalities, who have stage personas. It's easier and, in ways, more fun.

The only reason I can think of why I might dread writing about a musician is that I don't like their work, so then I wouldn't write about them. Some musicians have made it clear that they don't want me (or sometimes anyone) writing about them. I generally avoid writing about them. That can change over time, of course.

How much freedom I have is a trickier question. Certainly I have the freedom to not write about someone. Sometimes there are musicians or projects I really want to write about, but I can't find an interested outlet.

Sometimes I write about someone I like, but an editor has an idea for framing it that is different than how I would want to do it. But I do respect that as a part of the process, and I guess I'm glad I get to write for a variety of publications, so at least the frames change.

And thanks, Jessica!