223

Mary Halvorson Quintet: Saturn Sings

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
One of the things that make Mary Halvorson's music so distinctive is the sense of flux which ensures that every release under the guitarist's own name seems like a report back from musical territories as yet uncharted.

Making Saturn Sings something of a milestone, as the addition of horns might have had a detrimental effect on the music of her trio, which has already reached a state of almost telepathic understanding. But there's no reason to fear, as the music is as singular as ever.

Listening to "Mile High Like (No.16)," it's difficult to imagine how the piece could be played any other way. For all of the singularity of Halvorson's instrumental conception, her fellow players have a knack for deeply enriching the music; Jonathan Finlayson's stately trumpet backs sounds as if it's the only logical alternative to becoming involved in the rhythmic stew fomented by Halvorson, bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith.

Halvorson, Hébert and Smith comprised the trio on 2008's Dragon's Head (Firehouse 12), so it's clear where that telepathy comes from. Happily, the slickness often born of such longstanding associations isn't evident here, a characteristic apparent on "Sea Seizure (No.19)," where the music assumes a polyrhythmic edge through the simple expedient of the three players working in different rhythms. What might have been a mess retains a coherence rendered only more extraordinary by Halvorson's string manipulations.

By the by, the numbers attached to each composition refer to the order in which Halvorson composed them. This has the practical effect of allowing her to realize how she's developing as a composer. Her playing, however, might not be so amenable to such a straightforward practice, because she's already working such a personal seam. On "Right Size Too Little (No.12)," her aptitude for deconstruction is apparent. As is so often the case, her tone is legitimately clean, which throws the spotlight on the degree to which she's constructively taking things apart. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else in the program, the music is informed by nuance, the slightest inference on the part of one player being the object of stimulus for the others.

So it might be the case that conception is the key when it comes to Mary Halvorson's music. If so, then it's important to emphasize that the notion doesn't preclude warmth or indeed the staple of creative improvised music that is spontaneity. Both of these qualities are here in abundance and the consequent balance is as finely struck as anything out there.

Track Listing: Leak Over Six Five (No. 14); Sequential Tears In It (No. 20); Mile High Like (No. 16); Moon Traps In Seven Rings (No. 17); Sea Seizure (No. 19); Crack In Sky (No. 11); Right Size Too Little (No. 12); Crescent White Singe (No. 13); Cold Mirrors (No. 15); Saturn Sings (No. 18).

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

Title: Saturn Sings | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Firehouse 12 Records


Tags

Related Video

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 "The Chicago Plan" CD/LP/Track Review The Chicago Plan
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 16, 2017
Read "Hallways" CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 30, 2017
Read "The Study of Touch" CD/LP/Track Review The Study of Touch
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2017
Read "Second City" CD/LP/Track Review Second City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "The Authorized Bang Collection" CD/LP/Track Review The Authorized Bang Collection
by Doug Collette
Published: April 29, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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