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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thumbscrew: Theirs

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The trio Thumbscrew is releasing simultaneously two recordings from a single session, Theirs and Ours. The first is an album of cover songs and the latter originals by the band. While these reductionist tags might describe the music in its fundamental aspects, these two recordings are the product of one intricate process and trio language. The three musicians that form Thumbscrew, guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, also collaborate in various other projects, including ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Thumbscrew: Theirs

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It has been four years since Thumbscrew, the trio of guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, released their self-titled debut (Cuneiform Records, 2014). The trio is simultaneously releasing two albums--their third and fourth--Ours and Theirs on the same label. As the titles indicate, one album consists of original compositions and the other, covers from a very eclectic assortment of artists from Benny Golson to Wayne Shorter and far less familiar names. The latter of the two ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson: Code Girl

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Those familiar with guitarist Mary Halvorson's numerous projects have become well-acquainted with the idiosyncratic, unorthodox, sometimes cerebral approach she takes to her craft. Halvorson's compositions are consistently thoughtful but rarely predictable and her improvising is similarly distinctive, so expecting the unexpected is par for the course. Even so, the breadth of Halvorson's interests and influences can be startling, as anyone who's heard her work with Marc Ribot's Young Philadelphians on Live in Tokyo (Yellowbird, 2015) can tell you. It only ...

IN PICTURES
CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson: Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32

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Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 32 offers up the final installment in prolific composer John Zorn's 32-album sojourn (titled Book of Angels). It is an exciting and fitting capstone. From the start, the music dances its way through contrasts of exciting, mysterious, probing, exotic, and shifting musical folk-jazz idioms, improvisations and compositions. The Mary Halvorson Quartet are Tomas Fujiwara on drums, Drew Gress on bass, Mary Halvorson on guitar, and Miles Okazaki on guitar. There is ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Sylvie Courvoisier/Mary Halvorson: Crop Circles

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Crop Circles is the inevitable meeting of two remarkable female artists. Both pianist Sylvie Courvoisier and guitarist Mary Halvorson have distinguished careers. Courvoisier in her quartet, her large ensemble, and Mephista (a trio with Ikue Mori and Susie Ibarra). Halvorson leads a trio, quintet, septet, octet and is a member multiple bands including Thumbscrew, Anthony Braxton's ensembles and those of Taylor Ho Bynum. Both women often perform and record solo and in duo, Courvoisier with Mark Feldman and Evan Parker ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson Octet: Away With You

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This debut octet outing led by guitarist Mary Halvorson is packed with an all-star team, featuring alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, bassist John Hébert and other notables. However, one of the differentiators is the addition of pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, who pushes the envelope above and beyond standard fare, sans the traditional Country music element. As many would anticipate, Halvorson integrates a modicum of surprises into the program that include false endings, shifting cadences, melancholic interludes and manic breakdowns amid ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson Octet: Away With You

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Continuing her streak of outstanding releases, guitarist extraordinaire Mary Halvorson once again shows her determination to build upon her unique style as a composer and bandleader. She's taken her septet from 2013's superb Illusionary Sea and added an eighth member, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, and the resulting music is typical Halvorson: harmonically complex, emotionally compelling, and full of interesting moments worth savoring. The first thing one notices about Alcorn's presence is the sense of atmosphere she provides. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Michael Formanek - Tomas Fujiwara - Mary Halvorson: Convallaria

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Three hyper-progressive improvisational jazz and cross-genre artists push the envelope again on their 2nd album for Cuneiform Records. The musicians' busy schedules via numerous and largely prolific solo and group-based projects have rocketed their respective artistries into the limelight, especially ECM recording artist Michael Formanek (bass) who for the past several decades has become a household name within these circles. Nonetheless, it's an adventurous exploration, led by guitarist Mary Halvorson's signature phraseology, comprised of extended lines that vaporize into the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mary Halvorson: Meltframe

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In a quietly forceful way, guitarist Mary Halvorson has cemented her place among the company of modern-day counterparts such as Eivind Aarset, Nels Cline and Terje Rypdal. The Brooklyn based composer/musician has performed with the likes of Anthony Braxton (both sharing credentials at Wesleyan University), cornet player Taylor Ho Bynum and the avant-garde group Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant. Halvorson has recorded with trumpeter Nate Wooley, multi-reedist Jon Irabagon and Norwegian bassist Eivind Opsvik. The consistent factor in Halvorson's career to date, ...