August Artist Feature: Mary Halvorson

Mary Halvorson has emerged over the past decade as one of the most singularly creative and fresh musical voices of her generation. She has redefined the guitar as an instrument and how it is incorporated into jazz and creative music contexts. She has also developed innovative techniques of playing guitar by employing a line six delay pedal, controlled through an expression pedal by which she manipulates the delay time of the sound. That description may sound unnecessarily technical: when you hear it in real time, the level of control and ability to shape sound in split seconds reveals the true nature of her genius. She makes it all seem effortless from her position amidst the fray of live improvised music.

Halvorson leads trio, quintet, and septet groups under her own name. The original band was formed with John Hebert (bass), and Ches Smith (drums), in 2006, to which Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet) and Jon Irabagon (alto saxophone) were added for the quintet in 2009. The trio and quintet put out a series of highly acclaimed records including Dragon’s Head (2008), Saturn Sings (2010), and Bending Bridges (2012). In 2011, Halvorson set to the task of increasing the size of the group yet again by adding two additional horns (Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophone and Jacob Garchik on trombone) to give it a “mini-big band feel” and opening a great number of harmonic possibilities. The resulting record, Illusionary Sea (Firehouse 12 Records) will be available at a series of three release concerts at The Stone this week, 16-18 August 2013.

Other New and Upcoming Releases

Halvorson has also been busily working on a number of collaborative projects. The trio, Sifter, with Kirk Knuffke (cornet) and Matt Wilson (drums), released a self-titled album this July on the Relative Pitch label. The duo, Secret Keeper, with bassist Stephan Crump, will release its next record in 2014, with upcoming performances at Cornelia Street Cafe in November, followed by a European tour. Moving away from its first effort,  which was entirely improvisational, the second album shifts to composed pieces. Halvorson’s other collaborative trio, Thumbscrew, with Michael Formanek (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums) will release their first album in January 2014 on Cuneiform. Thumbscrew is a very exciting group that highlights intricate and emotionally-driven compositions focused on intense interactions between instruments. One of the most exciting bands currently playing, Thumbscrew appears live this week, 14-15 August, at The Stone.

Live Performances in August

Mary Halvorson has a residency at The Stone this month with a series of six performances 13-18 August. Details below:

  • Aug 2: Sifter at All Things Project, Neighborhood Church of Greenwich Village
  • Aug 3: Mary Halvorson Quintet at Newport Jazz Festival
  • Aug 8: Anthony Braxton’s Falling River Quartet (+Liz Allbee) in Berlin
  • Aug 9: Anthony Braxton’s Falling River Quartet in Lisbon
  • Aug 10: Mary Halvorson Quintet at Jazz Em Agosto (Lisbon)
  • Aug 13: Guitar night (with Joe Morris, 8 pm; with Brandon Seabrook, 10 pm) at The Stone
  • Aug 14: Thumbscrew at The Stone, 8 and 10 pm
  • Aug 15: Thumbscrew at The Stone, 8 and 10 pm
  • Aug 16: Mary Halvorson Septet at The Stone, 8 and 10 pm
  • Aug 17: Mary Halvorson Septet at The Stone, 8 and 10 pm
  • Aug 18: Mary Halvorson Septet at The Stone, 8 and 10 pm
  • Aug 25: Mike Reed’s Living by Lanterns at Sardinia Jazz Festival (Italy)
  • Aug 29: Mike Reed’s Living by Lanterns at Willisau Jazz Festival (Switzerland)

Selected Discography

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