Resurfacing Pavement 

Quartet of young jazz lions revisit the catalog of the late indie-rockers

The well-known Silver Jews side project known as Pavement might have ceased recording six years ago, but Gold Sounds indicates that their music stands a chance of entering the jazz repertoire.
The well-known Silver Jews side project known as Pavement might have ceased recording six years ago, but Gold Sounds indicates that their music stands a chance of entering the jazz repertoire. It’s not as unlikely as it sounds: Pavement’s songs always were more sophisticated than they seemed, and this group of top-flight jazzers—saxophonist James Carter, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Ali Jackson and bassist Reginald Veal—swing them with a finesse that’s anything but slack. The well-known Silver Jews side project known as Pavement might have ceased recording six years ago, but Gold Sounds indicates that their music stands a chance of entering the jazz repertoire. It’s not as unlikely as it sounds: Pavement’s songs always were more sophisticated than they seemed, and this group of top-flight jazzers—saxophonist James Carter, pianist Cyrus Chestnut, drummer Ali Jackson and bassist Reginald Veal—swing them with a finesse that’s anything but slack. Jazz musicians have been playing rock songs for a long time. Gil Evans essayed Jimi Hendrix, Woody Herman did a good job rearranging Steely Dan, and Brad Mehldau has tackled Radiohead. Gold Sounds works because the four players never go for the obvious—there’s no attempt to reclaim Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain’s “5-4=Unity,” itself a “Take Five” rip. Instead, they’ve chosen material that might not seem to lend itself to jazz interpretation. “Trigger Cut,” from Pavement’s 1992 breakthrough Slanted and Enchanted, gets an ingenious, warm reading from Chestnut on solo piano, while “Stereo,” from 1997’s Brighten the Corners, finds Carter’s saxophone whinnying in perfect imitation of Stephen Malkmus’ imperfect vocals. On the gorgeous “Blue Hawaiian,” the jazz players hew closely to the original melody, an approach that accentuates the composition’s inherent melancholy. “Cut Your Hair” gets the most radical reworking, with Jackson’s drums laying down a bluesy after-hours crawl. Carter’s soprano sax suggests the melody; a delightful coda features the band vocalizing the song’s wordless hook. Terror Twilight’s “Platform Blues” comes across as simultaneously parodistic and tormented. Pavement’s best work always reshuffled rock ’n’ roll commonplaces, and it’s nice to contemplate these versions competing with the originals in future memory.

Readers also liked…

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Recent Comments

Sign Up! For the Scene's email newsletters





* required

All contents © 1995-2016 CityPress Communications LLC, 210 12th Ave. S., Ste. 100, Nashville, TN 37203. (615) 244-7989.
All rights reserved. No part of this service may be reproduced in any form without the express written permission of CityPress Communications LLC,
except that an individual may download and/or forward articles via email to a reasonable number of recipients for personal, non-commercial purposes.
Powered by Foundation