Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
41

Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count Views
Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges 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 of her modular structures. Halvorson's salient abilities as a composer are a defining feature of the session; her talent for crafting intricate arrangements that maintain a sense of organic cohesiveness—despite often jarring juxtapositions—is noteworthy.

Halvorson's labyrinthine pieces evolve with exacting precision; their fleetingly oblique melodies and sudden shifts in color, density and rhythm are mediated with sophisticated deportment. For example, the opener, "Sinks When She Rounds The Bend" implies the literal aspects of its title; after a stately fanfare and pair of understated solos from Halvorson and Hébert, the band gradually builds momentum until a frenetic collective climax coaxes the guitarist into a brash, Sonic Youth-inspired maelstrom, before the entire ensemble suddenly plummets into muted pointillism, sinking into aural oblivion.

Although Halvorson's multifaceted writing is a highpoint of the date, it ultimately serves to inspire her improvisational prowess—and that of her sidemen. Making the most of a delay, distortion and volume pedal, she summons a bewildering array of prismatic tonalities, her spidery fretwork vacillating between effervescent ruminations and bursts of coruscating frenzy—often within the same tune. Yet Halvorson's unique method of bending tones and pitches with a delay unit is her most striking innovation, advancing the notion of blue notes with futuristic élan.

As longstanding associates of Halvorson's, Hébert and Smith negotiate all manner of dynamic tempo shifts, modulating time signatures and deconstructed interplay; their congenial rapport imbues a sense of stylistic continuity to an endless variety of rhythmic strategies, from the thunderous downbeats of "The Periphery Of Scandal" to the nervy syncopation of "Deformed Weight Of Hands." Finlayson and Irabagon conjure equally fascinating variations from these multihued numbers; on the epic "Love In Eight Colors" Finlayson's unaccompanied solo resounds with intervallic ingenuity while Irabagon fashions a series of quixotic lyrical motifs from controlled multiphonics.

Greater than the sum of its parts, Bending Bridges is another exemplary offering from Halvorson's Quintet, whose eclectic yet systematic efforts are as consistently challenging as they are appealing.


Track Listing: Sinks When She Rounds The Bend; Hemorrhaging Smiles; Forgotten Men In Silver; Love In Eight Colors; The Periphery Of Scandal; That Old Sound; Sea Cut Like Snow; Deformed Weight Of Hands; All The Clocks.

Personnel: Mary Halvorson: guitar; Jonathan Finlayson: trumpet; Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone; John Hébert: bass; Ches Smith: drums.

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records | Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


Related Video

CD/LP/Track Review
General Articles
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Meltframe
Meltframe
Firehouse 12 Records
2015
buy
Reverse Blue
Reverse Blue
Relative Pitch Records
2014
buy
Mary Halvorson Septet: Illusionary Sea
Mary Halvorson...
Firehouse 12 Records
2014
buy
Thumbscrew
Thumbscrew
Cuneiform Records
2014
buy
[no cover]
Sifter
Sony Urban Music
2013
buy
Illusionary Sea
Illusionary Sea
Firehouse 12 Records
2013
buy
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Evan Parker Evan Parker
sax, tenor
Ken Vandermark Ken Vandermark
saxophone
Francois Carrier Francois Carrier
sax, alto
Peter Evans Peter Evans
trumpet
Joe Maneri Joe Maneri
saxophone

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.