July 14, 2012

Playlist Week of 7-14-12

Hary Halvorson - Bending Bridges

* Hesperion XXI (Savall): Helmut-List-Halle, Graz, Austria 7-17-07 (FM CDR)
* Hesperion XXI (Savall): Concert Noble, Brussels, Belgium 7-21-07 (FM 2CDR)
* Vivaldi: Concertos For The Emperor (English Concert/Manze) (Harmonia Mundi SACD)
* Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges (Firehouse 12 CD)
* Mary Halvorson & Jessica Pavone: Departure Of Reason (Thirsty Ear CD)
* The Thirteenth Assembly: Station Direct (Important CD)
* Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet: Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12 CD)
* Aych: As The Crow Flies (Relative Pitch CD)
* Chris Forsyth: Kenzo Deluxe (Northern Spy CD)
* The Who: Quadrophenia (Track 2LP)
* Jeff Beck: Truth (Epic/Sundazed LP)
* Grateful Dead: In The Dark (Arista/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* Grateful Dead: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY 9-15-87 (selections) (SBD 2CDR)
* Frank Zappa: “I Don’t Want To Get Drafted”/”Ancient Armaments” (Zappa/Polygram 12”)
* Frank Zappa: Tinseltown Rebellion (Barking Pumpkin 2LP)
* The Red Crayola: The Parable Of Arable Land (stereo) (Int’l Artists/Charly 2CD)
* Soft Machine: Third (Columbia 2LP)
* Soft Machine: Fourth (Columbia LP)
* Deep Purple: Shades Of Deep Purple (EMI/Odeon LP)
* Deep Purple: In Rock (Warner Bros. LP)
* Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (Warner Bros./Rhino LP)
* Elvis Costello & The Attractions: Imperial Bedroom (Columbia/Mobile Fidelity LP)
* Thurston Moore: Trees Outside The Academy (Ecstatic Peace! CD)†
* Thurston Moore: Demolished Thoughts (Matador CD)†
* Sleep: Dopesmoker (Southern Lord 2LP)
* Steven Wilson: Grace For Drowning (KScope BD)
* Storm Corrosion: Storm Corrosion (Roadrunner CD/BD)
* The Mars Volta: Noctourniquet (Warner Bros. 2LP)
* Anathema: We’re Here Because We’re Here (KScope CD/DVD)†
* Baroness: Red Album (Relapse CD)†/‡
* Baroness: Blue Record (Relapse CD)†/‡
* Baroness: Yellow & Green (Relapse)
* Pelican: The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw (Hydra Head CD)†
* Pelican: What We All Come To Need (Southern Lord CD)(†/‡)
* White Hills: H-p1 (Thrill Jockey CD)
* White Hills: Frying On This Rock (Thrill Jockey LP)
* Astra: The Weirding (Rise Above/Metal Blade CD)
* Astra: The Black Chord (Rise Above/Metal Blade CD)



I’ve written before about how much I love Mary Halvorson (see here, here, here and here)—I am probably her biggest fan. I’ve described her as a “complete guitarist,” that is to say someone who knows all the right notes and, more importantly, understands the transformative power of electricity. Even more amazing, she is also a brilliant jazz composer, as can be heard on her new CD, Bending Bridges (Firehouse 12). Featuring her quintet with Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Jon Irabagon on alto saxophone, John Hébert on bass and Ches Smith on drums, the music ranges from post-Blue Note bop to angular art rock—often in the same piece. This band has been playing together for a while now and it shows: everyone sounds relaxed and the sometimes tricky arrangements are expertly executed. If I have any complaint it is that Halvorson is a bit too generous with the solo space and only really lets loose herself on a few tracks. Moreover, drum solos are almost never a good idea in my opinion, no matter how great the drummer, and there’s not one, but three of them here, which only contributes to the CD’s overlong seventy-minute duration. But these are minor quibbles since the compositions and playing are all first-rate—and I’ll take any opportunity to hear Ms. Halvorson play the guitar.

Fortunately, there has been ample chances to do so over the past several months, since she has appeared on a bunch of other records under a variety of monikers. The Thirteenth Assembly is a long-running collective with her musical peers, violist Jessica Pavone, brass master Taylor Ho Bynum and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, each sharing equal compositional duties. Their most recent CD, Station Direct (Important), is another genre-hopping gem, happily moving from abstract squiggles to post-jazz grooving to outright Bo Diddley beats. Her fourth duo album with Pavone, Departure of Reason (Thirsty Ear), is another set of carefully crafted art- songs and instrumentals, perhaps the most cohesive (and well-recorded) CD yet from them. Then there’s As The Crow Flies (Relative Pitch), by a conglomeration calling itself Aych, an out-jazz blow-out with Bynum again and Jim Hobbs on saxophone. It is certainly energetic and (mostly) free but it feels a little ad hoc and rootless to me. Nevertheless, Halvorson sounds totally self-assured and provides the glue that keeps the horns from flying apart. She also appears on Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12), a suite of meditative chamber jazz by the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet and on Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up’s new one, The Air Is Different (482 Music). Finally, you can also hear her work with Anthony Braxton on many of the FLAC downloads available at the Tri-Centric Foundation, all of which are mind-blowingly great.

Yes, Mary Halvorson has been busy! Rumor has it she has reconvened her punky rock band, PEOPLE, for a new record for I & Ear titled 3XaWoman due out later this year and supposedly a new Ingrid Laubrock Anti-House CD is in the can. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

1 comment:

Sam said...

Another nice summary of Ms. Halvorson's recent doings. Here are my (relatively short) lists for last week:

Playlist 2012-07-16

*Miles Davis: The Complete Prestige Recordings: 1951-1956 (disc 2, selections)
*Interstellar Fife and Drum: 2012-06-30 RVA Noise Fest, Strange Matter, Richmond VA (mp3)
*Ingrid Laubrock Sleepthief: The Madness of Crowds
*Sun Ra: Heliocentric Worlds Vol. 3
*Beach Boys: That’s Why God Made the Radio
*Beatles: Mono Masters (2009 mono remaster) disc 1
*Beatles: Rubber Soul (2009 mono remaster)
*Elvis Costello & the Attractions: Get Happy (2003 reissue, disc 1)
*Kinks: Something Else by the Kinks
*Yani Martinelli: Bubble Station
*Paul McCartney: Ram (2012 remaster) disc 1
*Rolling Stones: Exile on Main St. (deluxe ed., remastered) disc 1

Reading List 2012-07-16

*Dumas, Alexander. Count of Monte Cristo (transl. Robin Russ) (started)
*Carr, Caleb. Angel of Darkness (finished)
*Buchanan, Edna. Love Kills (started/finished)
*Barthelme, Donald. Sixty Stories (in progress)
*Link, Kelly. Stranger Things Happen (in progress)