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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson - Michael Formanek - Tomas Fujiwara: Thumbscrew

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Kindred musical spirits unite on this composers' cooperative, featuring three musicians who have been forerunners and antagonists of new-fangled directions in the avant-garde jazz spectrum, other than ripping into customary modern jazz fare with a vengeance. The artists' divergent discographies offer a worldly testament to these aspects, besides their work as first-call session aces. With Michael Formanek's pronounced bass lines, guitarist Mary Halvorson's fascinating permutations, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara laying down a host of perky grooves, the group executes within a 360-degree realm of invention. With her hollow-body electric guitar, Halvorson's strangely appealing detuning mechanisms, dodgy and zippy ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea

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In 2009 Mary Halvorson was asked how relevant she felt that the word 'jazz' was to musicians of her generation. Her response was telling “Oh, I think about jazz all the time and although I don't play the traditional forms, I call myself a 'jazz musician.'.. trying to integrate everything into my own language." The corollary of this is that, while she has clear roots in jazz, Halvorson has assimilated influences from many genres of music and reflects this in the open minded attitude exhibited by her compositions and playing. Its all about what works together rather than simply repeating ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea

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Guitarist Mary Halvorson's signature sound and methodologies have been making an impact within avant-garde and progressive-jazz circles on a global basis. Illusionary Sea marks the debut of her septet, comprised of impressionable players often residing at the forefront of the newer kindling of what may loosely be classified as jazz. Here, like minds coalesce for an album that crosses jazz, classical and avant-garde frontiers, via Halvorson's intriguing compositions and oscillating, wave-like arrangements that rarely inhabit a continuous plane. The guitarist steers the festivities with unorthodox chord clusters and nimble single note lines that sometimes drift into the ozone ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea

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Guitarist Mary Halvorson's Illusionary Sea is rich and intriguing filled with contrasting yet complementary motifs and patterns. Leading a septet of versatile and idiosyncratic musicians, Halvorson deftly entwines divergent musical threads into an elegant musical tapestry that bears her distinctive mark without overshadowing her band mates' individuality.The elaborately constructed pieces allow ample room for spontaneity. They are not, however, a mere showcase of the soloists' prowess, but rather the written melody and the impromptu musical constructs meld into an inventive whole. The intense “Smiles Of Great Men (No. 34)" for instance, opens with Halvorson's furious strummed guitar followed ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Secret Keeper (Stephan Crump & Mary Halvorson): Super 8

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Bassist Stephan Crump and guitarist Mary Halvorson kindled the fire in 2011 during their initial encounter, leading to these sessions recorded in Brooklyn, N.Y. Of course, the respective artists are highly revered within modern jazz schemas and the outside realm, spanning a global presence as first-call session artists, paralleling their solo ventures. Hence, the duo crafts an organic-electric presence. Halvorson's unorthodox and rather beguiling technique sets her apart from many contemporaries. Her liquefying phraseology tenders a weirdly contagious musicality coupled with Crump's thick tone and pliant articulations on acoustic bass. Crump lays down a firm pulse and engages ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges

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The widely celebrated 2010 debut of Mary Halvorson's Quintet, Saturn Sings (Firehouse 12), confirmed the young guitarist's growing reputation with a selection of urbane compositions as impressive as her idiosyncratic improvisations. Bending Bridges expands upon the previous album's concepts, offering further proof of Halvorson's burgeoning talent, reinforced by an even greater sense of accord within the ensemble.Bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith once again support the vivacious frontline of trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who join Halvorson's Trio for half the record, extrapolating a dizzying array of contrapuntal themes while gracefully navigating the capricious transitions ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

AYCH / Jim Hobbs / Mary Halvorson / Taylor Ho Bynum: As The Crow Flies

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Three prominent modern-era improvisers offer a lesson in stark contrasts on this session, containing semi-structured and composed works. The artists construct off-center balladry, angst, and playful, cartoon-like soundscapes, amid a few doomsday scenarios dispersed throughout the jaggedly moving parts. Alto saxophonist Jim Hobbs' “Over Yonder" stands out, because it would have seemed highly unlikely that the trio would flirt with traditional, New Orleans jazz frameworks within the set's largely freely organized and vastly expressive agenda. Sparking remembrances of Louis Armstrong's resonating extended notes, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum aligns with Jim Hobbs for a bracing set of choruses, executed ...



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