227

Mary Halvorson Trio: Dragon's Head

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count
Given her diverse work with Anthony Braxton, Trevor Dunn and Mike Pride, her duos with Jessica Pavone and Kevin Shea and a number of other projects, guitarist Mary Halvorson might have gone any number of directions with her debut as a bandleader. Safe bet it would include some precise, proficient playing, probably some jagged edges and maybe some noise. But in the last few years Halvorson has shown there to be a number of tricks up her sleeve.

With Dragon's Head, she seems to have decided to go all directions at once and quite tidily. She wrote the ten pieces on the disc specifically for the band—John Hebert on bass and Ches Smith on drums—and they rise well to what's been put before them. While some of her projects have leaned toward avant rock and sui generis song, Dragon's Head is an instrumental record of slippery jazz. The first track, "Old Nine Two Six For Two Dies (No. 10)" (showing her commitment to the band project, the tracks are numbered to show the order they were composed in) is the last piece she wrote for the album and jazziest cut on the disc, a laid back number with plenty of melody, her electric guitar almost pianistic at times. It serves not so much as a framework in its placement here but as a departure point for the rest of the record.

The disc quickly nosedives (quite gloriously) into rockier glades. The second track introduces her deft use of effects, heavy distortion and rubbery pitch-shifting. The rest of the album is dedicated to charting the grounds between: extreme layering of tempos; unison passages that pound a different punk-prog than has been heard before and unaccompanied solos (by all three) that challenge as much as the composed segments do. But remarkably Dragon's Head never feels de-contextualized; the rugs might change, but they're not pulled out from under you.

Track Listing: Old Nine Two Six Four Two Dies; Momentary Lapse; Screws Loose; Scant Frame; Sweeter Than You; Sank Silver Purple White; Too Many Ties; Totally Opaque; Dragon's Head; April April May.

Personnel: Mary Halvorson: guitar; John Hebert: bass; Ches Smith: drums.

Title: Dragon's Head | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Signal 9 CD/LP/Track Review Signal 9
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 22, 2017
Read For the Love of You CD/LP/Track Review For the Love of You
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by John Sharpe
Published: October 21, 2017
Read "Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson" CD/LP/Track Review Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 31, 2017
Read "The Eastcote Studios Session" CD/LP/Track Review The Eastcote Studios Session
by John Eyles
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Doug Collette
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Undertaker Please Drive Slow" CD/LP/Track Review Undertaker Please Drive Slow
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 15, 2017
Read "Feather" CD/LP/Track Review Feather
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 22, 2017
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 12, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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