Guitarist Mary Halvorson's project with Chris Speed on sax & clarinet, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Tomas Fuijwara on drums, a band formed for a one-off concert at the Blue Note in NYC, that continued on based on the strength of the bond between them, as heard on this superb release.
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Label: Relative Pitch
Catalog ID: RPR-1025
Squidco Product Code: 19754
Recorded at The Bunker in Brooklyn, NY, on December 6th, 2013, by Aaron Nevezie.
Chris Speed-tenor saxophone, clarinet
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1. Torturer's Reverse Delight 5:28
2. Reverse Blue 5:08
3. Insomniac's Delight 6:11
4. Rebel's Revue 5:05
5. Hako 7:58
6. Ego Man 6:02
7. Old Blue 5:32
8. Ordered Thoughts Cease 3:59
9. Really OK 4:47
10. Resting On Laurels 6:22
Related Categories of Interest:
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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sample the album:
"While Mary Halvorson has been active in the creative jazz scene for over a decade, she has truly come into her own in the last three or so years. It is not just that she has appeared on eleven recordings in 2013 alone. Her recent releases Imaginary Sea and Thumbscrew, for example, both exhibit a new level of compositional maturity for the guitarist. Reverse Blue continues that trend.
Her group on this quartet recording includes Chris Speed on tenor saxophone and clarinet, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Tomas Fujiwara on drums. Halvorson's deliberate, prickly guitar-wielding is on display, with characteristic bent notes and unexpected directions. For instance, her heavy riffing and soloing on the opening track, "Torturer's Reverse Delight", is offset by a more introspective and jazzy approach on "Hako", as well ominous falling tones on Rebel's Revue. All four musicians contribute equally to these efforts, often collaborating in contrapunctal lines and dissonance. Another keeper from Ms. Halvorson."-Mike, Avant Music News
• Show Bio for Mary Halvorson
"One of improvised music's most in-demand guitarists, Mary Halvorson has been active in New York since 2002, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. Critics have called her "a singular talent" (Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes), "NYC's least-predictable improviser" (Howard Mandel, City Arts), "one of the most exciting and original guitarists in jazz-or otherwise" (Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal), and "one of today's most formidable bandleaders" (Francis Davis, Village Voice). The Philadelphia City Paper's Shaun Brady adds, "Halvorson has been steadily reshaping the sound of jazz guitar in recent years with her elastic, sometimes-fluid, sometimes-shredding, wholly unique style."
After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she appears on six of Mr. Braxton's recordings. Ms. Halvorson has also performed alongside iconic guitarist Marc Ribot, in his bands Sun Ship and The Young Philadelphians, and with the bassist Trevor Dunn in his Trio-Convulsant. Over the past decade she has worked with such diverse bandleaders as Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey and Mike Reed.
As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson's primary outlets is her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Since their 2008 debut album, Dragon's Head, the band has been recognized as a rising star jazz band by Downbeat Magazine for five consecutive years. Ms. Halvorson's quintet, which adds trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon to the trio, has released two critically acclaimed albums on the Firehouse 12 label: Saturn Sings and Bending Bridges. Most recently she has added two additional band members-tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and trombonist Jacob Garchik-to form a septet, featured on her 2013 release Illusionary Sea. Ms. Halvorson also co-leads a longstanding chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Thumbscrew and Secret Keeper."-Mary Halvorson Website (http://www.maryhalvorson.com/bio/)
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• Show Bio for Chris Speed
"Chris Speed is a composer, clarinetist and saxophonist - and is "one of the principal figures in a dynamic left-of-center jazz/improv scene in the city" (NYTimes). His own bands include Endangered Blood, Human Feel, yeah NO, Trio Iffy, Pachora and The Clarinets. He is a founding member of Jim Black's Alas No Axis and John Hollenbeck's Claudia Quintet (two of the most influential working bands today), works with Uri Caine (deconstructing works by Mahler, Mozart, Bach, Schoenberg, Gershwin) and maintains a busy career of touring, recording, performing, composing, practicing and teaching. Current projects include work with Craig Taborn's Heroic Frenzies, Michael Formanek's Ensemble Kolossus, Dave King's Trucking Co., Matt Mitchell Quartet, Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue, Banda de los Muertos (NYC's only Banda band), as well as touring his latest project, Endangered Blood (with Black, Trevor Dunn and Oscar Noriega) which was featured on NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts in 2012. (Endangered Blood 2010, Work Your Magic 2013 Skirl). "Speed's Endangered Blood originals stand out as his most melodically generous, accessible and warm batch of compositions he's yet to produce." -DownBeat ****Born in 1967, Speed grew up in the Seattle area where he met future colleagues Jim Black and Andrew D'Angelo, all of whom ended up in Boston in the late 80's where they formed Human Feel with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel. (Scatter 1992, Welcome to Malpesta 1994, Speak To It 1996, Galore 2007). While in Boston he studied at New England Conservatory and graduated in 1990. By 1992, after a short tour with the Artie Shaw Band (led by Dick Johnson), Speed moved to New York City where he started working with Tim Berne's (now legendary touring band) Bloodcount. (Unwound 1996, Discretion 1997, Saturation Point 1997, The Seconds 2006).In April 2006, he launched Skirl Records, a label dedicated to Brooklyn based creative music" -Chris Speed Website (http://chrisspeed.com/bio/)
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• Show Bio for Eivind Opsvik
"Born in Oslo, bassist and composer Eivind Opsvik was introduced to music at home. His father loved to play the saxophone and constantly spun records-everything from Ornette Coleman to Billie Holiday and The Beatles. An early memory features Eivind on drums, jamming out "A Hard Day's Night" with his father. Later, a denim-clad rocker cousin lent him a bass guitar and the newfound ability of adding pitch to rhythm was a revelation. Opsvik spent the rest of his teens getting to know this instrument, as well as the double bass, while also experimenting with a 4-track tape recorder and pouring music into his head.
At the age of twenty, Opsvik began studies at the Norwegian Academy of Music, focusing on classical bass. By then, he was already an active participant in Oslo's vibrant jazz scene, regularly playing with musicians like Paal Nilssen-Love, Christian Wallumrød, Bjørnar Andresen, and Håkon Kornstad; while also performing at festivals and clubs around Europe.
In 1998, Opsvik relocated to New York City, where he has thrived as a working musician, collaborating on projects with among others Anthony Braxton, Paul Motian, John Zorn, Nate Wooley, and Bill Frisell and performing in a wide range of venues like Carnegie Hall, Village Vanguard, Le Poisson Rouge and The Stone. At the Manhattan School of Music he studied jazz and met some of his closest musical brothers, including Loren Stillman, Jeff Davis, and Jacob Sacks. Building on the bonds and shared musical understanding that developed while at school, Eivind invited these players to help him fulfill his vision for the solo project, Overseas.
Opsvik has stated that "overseas" is a fitting way of describing his life-whether in New York or Norway, he is always an ocean's distance from home. This deep loyalty towards friends and loved ones has, over time, been reflected in Overseas' various lineups. The first record was realized with the help of long-term friendships that went back to Opsvik's earliest days in New York. As he continued his journey through the city via late night gigs, Opsvik connected with other players-visionaries versed in noise improv, electronic, jazz, and classical-who, on subsequent Overseas records, were brought in to augment the lineup. Since 2005, the band has remained consistent, featuring Tony Malaby, Jacob Sacks, and Kenny Wollesen; in 2010, guitarist Brandon Seabrook also became a regular member. Over the years, they have played countless shows around New York City, as well as extensively toured Europe and the American east coast.
In addition to four Overseas albums and his extensive session work, Opsvik's discography also includes four experimental chamber-pop records made in collaboration with songwriter Aaron Jennings (under the moniker of Opsvik & Jennings) and a multimedia project with photographer Michelle Arcila, which pairs tens songs with ten photographic prints. This project, titled A Thousand Ancestors, came out of Opsvik's solo double bass performances, which sometimes featured projections of Arcila's photographs. In recording these bass-centric pieces, he would layer bass with subtle overdubs of lap steel guitar, vintage keyboards, and drum machines, with Arcila's prints displayed around the studio. The project proved to be an auspicious collaboration for the couple, who, as The New York Times put it, "share an aesthetic of haunting introspection, and the desire to seek out beauty in austerity."
Other critics have described Opsvik's work as "sonorous," "like a waking dream," and able "to transport the listener to another time and place, creating a cinematic experience...[like] the soundtrack to an imaginary film." His Overseas records create "a world of unfolding soundscapes" that defy categorization; they have "a compositional complexity that suggests jazz, [but] also references a diverse and imaginative palette of genres and influences." Opsvik's jazz is "the slow burn, down-turned variety that still has plenty of beauty underneath all of its darker undertones." But it's not just jazz for jazz-heads. By tapping into the energy, groove, and directness of rock, Opsvik reach people who are afraid of jazz and think they have to "understand" it.
Ultimately, Opsvik is the epitome of a multi-faceted, multi-instrumentalist working musician. While steadily playing gigs and recording sessions as a bass player, he is also a capable hand on the guitar, the keyboard, or behind the drums. At the Greenwood Underground, his basement studio, Opsvik records, mixes, and produces his own music, as well as various projects for his friends. Since 2007, he has also been running the Loyal Label, releasing a carefully curated catalog of albums, which run the gamut in terms of musical exploration but are all united with careful aesthetic choices and creative graphic design.
Maturing as a musician, Eivind never wanted to be up front in the band, but it would be incorrect to say he's been hiding. As a kid, watching bands perform on Norway's only TV channel, his gaze was instinctively drawn to the rhythm section, waiting for the camera to move the tight frame off the singer so that he could catch a glimpse of the bass player's steady hands or the drummer's hypnotic concentration. The rhythm section were the guys with their heads down doing the real work. Adolescent instincts are pure in that they don't know why they want what they want, but the quiet and focused dignity that Eivind honed in on has driven his life for the past 30 years.
(Eivind is currently a member of these bands/projects: Tony Malaby's Paloma Recio, Die Trommel Fatale, Nate Wooley Quintet, Skuli Sverrison's Seria, Two Miles A Day (Sacks, Maneri, Motian), Anthony Braxton's Tristano Project, Vinnie Sperrazza's Apocryphal, David Binney, Okkyung Lee, Jeff Davis Trio with Russ Lossing, Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue, Plainville, Kris Davis' Capricorn Climber, Håkon Kornstad, Rocket Engine, Tone Collector, Jesse Harris' Cosmo, The Interaction of Non-Interaction (w Ben Gerstein), Poor Pluto ...and more)"-Eivind Opsvik Website (http://eivindopsvik.com/)
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• Show Bio for Tomas Fujiwara
"Born in Boston in 1977, Brooklyn-based drummer Tomas Fujiwara emerged during the early to mid-2000s as a valued sideman before forming his own quintet, Tomas Fujiwara & the Hook Up, which gathered accolades for blending influences such as Wayne Shorter, Taleb Kweli, and Me'Shell Ndegéocello with the experimental and unpredictable spirit of the 21st century Brooklyn creative jazz scene. After studying for eight years with drummer and educator Alan Dawson in the Boston area, Fujiwara moved to New York at the age of 17. His first performing experiences included a five-year stint beginning around the turn of the millennium with the off-Broadway show Stomp, but he also began appearing as a sideman on jazz recordings (e.g., Three Souls by the Adam Rafferty Trio in 2003) and moving in exploratory, adventurous directions.
Fujiwara developed a particularly strong collaborative relationship with New Haven, Connecticut-based cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, whose own avant-leaning ensembles have featured a number of top Brooklyn improvising musicians. Fujiwara first appeared with Bynum on two 2007 recordings, The Middle Picture by the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet (Firehouse 12) and True Events by the Taylor Ho Bynum/Tomas Fujiwara Duo (482 Music). During the following years, the drummer appeared on the Bynum Sextet albums Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths (hatOLOGY, 2009), Apparent Distance (Firehouse 12, 2011), and Navigation (Possibility Abstracts X & XI) (Firehouse 12, 2013), and the Bynum/Fujiwara Duo album Stepwise (Nottwo, 2010). Fujiwara is also a member of Positive Catastrophe, a ten-piece outfit co-led by Bynum and percussionist Abraham Gomez-Delgado and inspired by Sun Ra and Latin jazz; the group has released two albums on Cuneiform, Garabatos Volume One (2009) and Dibrujo, Dibrujo, Dibrujo... (2012).
Another musician with whom Fujiwara has often worked, guitarist Mary Halvorson, also often travels in the same creative orbit as Taylor Ho Bynum; like Fujiwara, Halvorson is a member of the Bynum Sextet, and along with Bynum and violist Jessica Pavone, the drummer and guitarist formed the collective quartet the Thirteenth Assembly, which has recorded two albums for the Important Records label, 2009's (un)sentimental and 2011's Station Direct. Fujiwara, Halvorson, and Bynum also appeared as members of the Chicago-New York nonet Living by Lanterns, whose New Myth/Old Science album -- based on fragments of music recorded by Sun Ra in 1961 -- appeared on Cuneiform in 2012. In 2014 Cuneiform released another album featuring Fujiwara and Halvorson, the eponymous debut of Thumbscrew, a collaborative trio also including veteran bassist Michael Formanek.
Fujiwara first assembled his Hook Up quintet in 2008, later describing the bandmembers as "some of the most important musicians in my life" -- and given all of Fujiwara and Halvorson's recorded appearances together in various settings, it was no surprise that the guitarist was in the lineup. Also featuring tenor saxophonist Brian Settles, trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, and bassist Danton Boller, Tomas Fujiwara & the Hook Up released their debut album, Actionspeak, on 482 Music in 2010. Featuring Trevor Dunn on bass in place of Boller, the group's sophomore album, The Air Is Different, arrived (also on 482 Music) in 2012.
The many other projects in which Fujiwara has played as a collaborator or sideman include the Steve Lacy tribute band Ideal Bread, the eight-piece "bhangra funk dhol 'n' brass" outfit Red Baraat, and saxophonist/clarinetist Matt Bauder's acoustic jazz quintet. "-All Music (http://www.allmusic.com/artist/tomas-fujiwara-mn0000909926/biography)
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