579

Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone: Thin Air

Farrell Lowe By

Sign in to view read count
Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone: Thin Air The music of guitarist Mary Halvorson and violist Jessica Pavone is immediately galvanizing but comfortable, unpredictable yet composed, powerful yet subtle, vulnerable and courageous. In the rarified air of duet recordings where there are few places to hide, the music's context becomes a powerful resonator for artistic values. Thin Air is the third release by the duo, and is a rich document of the evolutionary progress their music has reached since the release of their first effort, Prairies (Lucky Kitchen, 2005).

This music is refined and carefully distilled much like a fine single malt Scotch from the rugged shores of the Highlands. With each listen there is more depth, subtlety, complexity, and harmonic hues to ponder and enjoy. Overall, there is a consistently stark and revealing quality to this music that is very attractive, even though every piece has its own distinctive nature and is driven by an individual logic. Nothing has been wasted or added to unnecessarily within the individual pieces or, conversely, to the whole.

From a production point of view, Thin Air is reminiscent of the work Robert Fripp's "audio verite" style with the singing group, The Roches, and with Daryl Hall on his Sacred Songs (RCA, 1908) solo album. From a compositional point of view, there is a shadowy likeness to David Sylvian's Blemish (Samadhi Sound, 2003), where he added vocals to Derek Bailey's pre-recorded solo guitar tracks. Another historic reference might be found in the interpretations of Li Po poems recorded by Harry Partch. Halvorson and Pavone follow a similar orbit with their vocal approach in the way they wrap the harmonies of their voices tightly around their instruments' sonorities. Half the tunes on the album feature singing, and the words and harmonies add a whole other dimension to the character of the music.

Both musicians were students of and are now collaborators with Anthony Braxton since finishing their studies at Wesleyan University, and the iconic reedman/composer's influence and spirit permeate the music. In many ways, Thin Air could easily serve as a companion piece to Braxton's 3 Compositions of New Jazz (Delmark, 1968). On both documents there is a sparse purity of melodic and rhythmic line, where the simple nakedness of the music allows the works to stand on their own. Therein lies the courageous and vulnerable nature of the music.

Pavone employs a straightforward approach to the viola, whereas Halvorson makes studied use of various effects in conjunction to her regular guitar tone. Both musicians seem to place a great deal of attention to their instrument's tone, attack, and articulation. This relationship imbues the music with an intimacy that is provocative and disarming.

Thin Air is an invitation to visit Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone's private world, and they prove to be very good hosts. This is an eminent document by two powerful new voices of the 21st century.


Track Listing: For You Or Them; Thin Air; Juice; Barber; Sinking; Ten Years; Lullaby; and Goodnight.

Personnel: Mary Halvorson: electric guitar, vocals; Jessica Pavone: viola, vocals.

Title: Thin Air | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Second Act CD/LP/Track Review Second Act
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Imaga Mondo CD/LP/Track Review Imaga Mondo
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Port Of Call CD/LP/Track Review Port Of Call
by John Sharpe
Published: August 23, 2017
Read May I Introduce To You CD/LP/Track Review May I Introduce To You
by James Nadal
Published: August 23, 2017
Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read "The Deep" CD/LP/Track Review The Deep
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: July 4, 2017
Read "Ugly Beautiful" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "Shifting Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Shifting Borders
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 5, 2017
Read "Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political and Spiritual Jazz 1970 to 1974" CD/LP/Track Review Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political and Spiritual Jazz 1970...
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 4, 2016
Read "New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Nature City" CD/LP/Track Review Nature City
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 23, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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