Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Thumbscrew: Theirs

Karl Ackermann By

Sign in to view read count
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 albums is the subject here, though in many ways, the two albums can be taken together as an organic project.

In little more than ten years, Halvorson has gone from a promising new talent to one of the preeminent guitarists in creative music. On the heals of her remarkable double-disc Code Girl (Firehouse 12 Records, 2018) she maintains an unpredictability that makes her music unique. The span of Formanek's long associations with such diverse artists as Tim Berne and Uri Caine, along with his own body of work, have made him a perfect fit for the idiosyncratic music of Halvorson. Fujiwara has deep associations with both bandmates and has proven himself to be the essence of nuanced force and sophistication.

While the compositions on Theirs belong to others, the mix of scrupulous detail and spontaneity in each methodology, clearly stamps the treatments as original. The trio opts for an eclectic mix of covers with Golson's "Stablemates" leading off in a slower, rounder version of the original. There are strong Latin influences with the late Argentinian composer Julio De Caro and Brazilian, Jacob Do Bandolim represented by pieces that provide Halvorson with two very different approaches to South American dance music. "House Party Starting" is relatively true to the Herbie Nichols original and offers a hypnotic Formanek/Fujiwara duo performance. The album closes with a gentle and beautiful version of Misha Mengelberg's "Weer is een dag voorbij" (Another day is over).

Halvorson has such an extensive and inimitable approach to her playing that it only makes sense to regard her within whatever parameters she chooses at a particular point in time; it's rarely the same stricture even if her playing is now easily identifiable. She manages to push boundaries of conformist thinking and application without expressly going off on tangents. With more than two dozen albums in her still brief, but prolific career to date, Theirs represents new territory and the chance to appreciate Halvorson (as well as Formanek and Fujiwara) in a setting that's a bit different.

Track Listing: Stablemates; Benzinho; House Party Starting; The Peacocks; East of the Sun; Scarlet Ribbons; (For Her Hair); Buen Amigo; Dance Cadaverous; Effi.

Personnel: Mary Halvorson: guitar; Michael Formanek: double bass; Tomas Fujiwara: drums.

Title: Theirs | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles


Cuneiform Records



Cuneiform Records


Related Articles

Read Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Lines in Sand CD/LP/Track Review
Lines in Sand
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2018
Read The Brave CD/LP/Track Review
The Brave
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read "Roppongi" CD/LP/Track Review Roppongi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Sounds Almighty" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds Almighty
by Chris May
Published: July 25, 2018
Read "The Space" CD/LP/Track Review The Space
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 6, 2018
Read "Strata" CD/LP/Track Review Strata
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: September 5, 2018
Read "Wheelhouse" CD/LP/Track Review Wheelhouse
by David A. Orthmann
Published: July 14, 2018
Read "Never Bet The Devil Your Head" CD/LP/Track Review Never Bet The Devil Your Head
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 9, 2018