Mary Halvorson continues her string of excellent modern jazz albums with this octet release with fellow guitarist Susan Alcorn, Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Jon Irabagon & Ingrid Laubrock (sax), Jacob Garchik (trombone), John Hebert (bass) and Ches Smith (drums).
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Label: Firehouse 12 Records
Catalog ID: FH12-04-01-024
Squidco Product Code: 22687
Packaging: Digipack - 3 panel
Recorded at Firehouse12, in Brooklyn, New York, on December 17th and 18th, 2015 by Nick Lloyd.
Susan Alcorn-pedal steel guitar
Jon Irabagon-alto saxophone
Ingrid Laubrock-tenor saxophone
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1. Spirit Splitter (No. 54) 6:19
2. Away with You (No. 55) 8:07
3. The Absolute Almost (No. 52) 9:56
4. Sword Barrel (No. 58) 4:39
5. Old King Misfit (No. 57) 7:34
6. Fog Bank (No. 56) 5:30
7. Safety Orange (No. 59) 5:13
8. Inky Ribbons (No. 53) 8:38
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NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
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sample the album:
"Continuing her streak of outstanding releases, guitarist extraordinaire Mary Halvorson once again shows her determination to build upon her unique style as a composer and bandleader. She's taken her septet from 2013's superb Illusionary Sea and added an eighth member, pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn, and the resulting music is typical Halvorson: harmonically complex, emotionally compelling, and full of interesting moments worth savoring.
The first thing one notices about Alcorn's presence is the sense of atmosphere she provides. On the third track, "The Absolute Almost," she offers spare, crystalline notes that gradually emerge and then drift away, providing a somber opening to the cut. Then Halvorson herself joins in, with carefully placed notes that emerge in a pensive dialogue with Alcorn to continue the subdued conversation, before a break in which the rest of the band jumps in to take the piece in a dramatically different direction, full of bounce and rhythmic drive. (It's little surprises like these that always make listening to a Halvorson record such an adventure.) Alcorn's role seems to liberate Halvorson's playing, freeing up subtle opportunities for her to contribute to the group as an equal rather than as a dominant voice.
It's also immediately evident how well this group works together as a unit. Drummer Ches Smith and bassist John Hˇbert have worked as Halvorson's partners for several recordings, to the point that they are an intuitive element of the rhythmic fluidity that is one of her trademarks. Even during the record's more raucous moments, there's never a sense that they're in danger of losing control of the pulse. And the horns are as fabulous as you would expect: with Jonathan Finlayson, Jon Irabagon, Ingrid Laubrock and Jacob Garchik in the lineup, Halvorson has a superlative brass section for her rich compositions, each member equally adept as a soloist or as an ensemble contributor.
Perhaps the most engaging aspect of the recording is its strong emotional core. Listening to the opening of the record, "Spirit Splitter," and the jubilant horn interplay that propels the track, it is clear that this is music to be enjoyed, not simply admired or respected. Whether we are taken down a path of exultant cacophony or melancholy musings, with Halvorson as our guide it is sure to involve her irresistible melodic sensibility. I'm sure Halvorson's next installment in her impressive catalog will continue to surprise and astonish, but in the meantime she's given us another exceptional record to celebrate."-Troy Dostert, All About Jazz
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• 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 Susan Alcorn
"Susan Alcorn (born 1953) is an American composer, improvisor, and pedal steel guitarist. Having started out playing guitar at the age of twelve, she quickly immersed herself in folk music, blues, and the pop music of the 1960s. A chance encounter with blues musician Muddy Waters steered her towards playing slide guitar. By the time she was twenty-one, she had immersed herself in the pedal steel guitar, playing in country and western swing bands in Texas.
Soon, she began to combine the techniques of country-western pedal steel with her own extended techniques to form a personal style influenced by free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and various folk musics of the world. By the early 1990s her music began to show an influence of the holistic and feminist "deep listening" philosophies of Pauline Oliveros.
Though mostly a solo performer, Alcorn has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Joe Giardullo, Caroline Kraabel, Earl Howard, Le Quan Ninh, Sean Meehan, Joe McPhee, LaDonna Smith, Mike Cooper, Walter Daniels, Ellen Fullman, Jandek, George Burt, Janel Leppin, Michael Formanek, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Maggie Nicols, Evan Parker, Johanna Varner, Zane Campbell and Mary Halvorson."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Alcorn)
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• Show Bio for Jonathan Finlayson
"Jonathan Finlayson has been recognized by the New York Times as "...an incisive and often surprising trumpeter," who is "...fascinated with composition." Born in 1982 in Berkeley, CA, Finlayson began playing the trumpet at the age of ten in the Oakland public school system. He came under the tutelage of Bay Area legend Robert Porter, a veteran trumpeter from the bebop era who took Finlayson under his wing; he was often seen accompanying Porter on his gigs about town and sitting in on the popular Sunday nights jam session at the Bird Cage. He subsequently attended the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music where he studied with Eddie Henderson, Jimmy Owens and Cecil Bridgewater.
Finlayson is a disciple of the saxophonist/composer/conceptualist Steve Coleman, having joined his band Five Elements in 2000 at the age of 18. He is widely admired for his ability to tackle cutting-edge musical concepts with aplomb. Finlayson has performed and recorded in groups led by Steve Lehman, Mary Halvorson, Craig Taborn, Henry Threadgill and played alongside notables such as Von Freeman, Jason Moran, Dafnis Prieto and Vijay Iyer."-Jonathan Finlayson Website (http://jonathanfinlayson.com/biography.html)
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• Show Bio for Jon Irabagon
"The winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, Irabagon has since topped both the Rising Star Alto Saxophone and the Rising Star Tenor Saxophone categories in the DownBeat Magazine Critics' Poll and been named one of Time Out New York's 25 New York City Jazz Icons. Jon was also named 2012 Musician of the Year in The New York City Jazz Record and is an integral member of such high-profile ensembles as the Mary Halvorson Quintet, the Dave Douglas Quintet and Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor, as well as an established bandleader in his own right.
For Perpetual Motion, a project of Moondog arrangements, Jon (along with French saxophonist/clarinetist/composer Sylvain Rifflet) has been awarded a French-American Cultural Exchange grant from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, with generous funding from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Institut Français, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, and Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs de Musique ("SACEM"). In addition, Jon has received a 2012 Mabuhay Award by the National Association of Filipino-Americans and a 2014 Philippine Presidential Award.
Jon's own record label, Irabbagast Records, has currently released five of his efforts, including I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 2: Appalachian Haze (with Mike Pride and Mick Barr), Outright! Unhinged (with Ralph Alessi, Jacob Sacks, John Hebert and Tom Rainey) and It Takes All Kinds (featuring Mark Helias and Barry Altschul), and most recently, the dual release of Behind the Sky (featuring Tom Harrell, Luis Perdomo, Yasushi Nakamura and Rudy Royston) as well as Jon's first solo saxophone recording, Inaction is an Action."-Jon Irabagon Website (http://www.jonirabagon.com/bio/)
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• Show Bio for Ingrid Laubrock
"Originally from Germany, Ingrid Laubrock resides in Brooklyn, NY. Between 1989 and 2009 she was active as a saxophonist and composer in London/UK. She performed and/or recorded with: Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas, Kenny Wheeler, Jason Moran, Tim Berne, William Parker, Tom Rainey, Mary Halvorson, Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, Craig Taborn, Luc Ex, Django Bates' Human Chain, The Continuum Ensemble and many others.
Ingrid's current projects as a leader are Anti-House, Sleepthief, Ingrid Laubrock Orchestra, Ingrid Laubrock Sextet and Ubatuba. Collaborations include LARK,Haste,Paradoxical Frog and Ingrid Laubrock/Tom Rainey Duo.She is a member of Anthony Braxton's Falling River Music Quartet, Nonet and 12+1tet, Tom Rainey Trio and Obbligato, Andrew Drury's Content Provider, Mary Halvorson Septet, Kris' Davis Quintet, Nate Wooley's Battle Pieces and Luc Ex' Assemblée. Ingrid was one of the featured soloists in Anthony Braxton's opera Trillium J.
Awards include the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation in 2004, a Fellowship in Jazz Composition by the Arts Foundation in 2006, the 2009 SWR German Radio Jazz Prize and the 2014 German Record Critics Quarterly Award. Commissions include Jammy Dodgers for jazz quintet and dancers (2006), Nonet music for Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2007, SWR New Jazz Meeting 2011 and "Vogelfrei", a piece for chamber orchestra (ACO/Tricentric Foundation). She won Rising Star/soprano saxophone in the 2015 in the 'Downbeat Annual Critics Poll and won the 'El Intruso Critics Poll for tenor saxophone in 2013. Ingrid was Improviser in Residence 2012 in the German city Moers. The post is created to introduce creative music into the city throughout the year. As part of this she led a regular improvisation ensemble and taught sound workshops in elementary schools. Other teaching experiences include improvisation workshops at Towson University, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Baruch College, University of Michigan, University of Newcastle and many others."-Ingrid Laubrock Website (http://ingridlaubrock.com/about.html)
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• Show Bio for Jacob Garchik
"Jacob Garchik, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and arranger, was born in San Francisco and has lived in New York since 1994. At home in a wide variety of styles and musical roles, he has become a vital part of NYC's downtown and Brooklyn scene, playing trombone with the Lee Konitz Nonet, Ohad Talmor/Steve Swallow Sextet, The Four Bags, Slavic Soul Party, and the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble. In 2012 he released the acclaimed solo CD "The Heavens: the Atheist Gospel Trombone Album".
Since 2006 Jacob has contributed dozens of arrangements and transcriptions for the Kronos Quartet of music from all over the world. His arrangements were featured on "Floodplain" (2009) and "Rainbow" (2010). He composed the score for Kronos for the documentary film "The Campaign" (2013) about the fight for marriage equality in California, which aired on PBS and at the frameline37 film festival in San Francisco.Complete list of arrangements for Kronos
As a trombonist Jacob has worked with many of the luminaries of the avant-garde, including Henry Threadgill, Laurie Anderson, Anthony Braxton, Anthony Coleman, Joe Maneri, Frank London, James Tenney, Josh Roseman, Don Byron, Terry Reilly, George Lewis, and Billy Martin. He has also played in ensembles led by rising artists such as Mary Halvorson, Dan Weiss, Miguel Zenon, and Steve Lehman. In 2013 he was named a "Rising Star" in the Downbeat Magazine Jazz Critic's Poll. Jacob also plays accordion, bass trombone, tuba, computer, and piano."-Jacob Garchik Website (http://jacobgarchik.com/?page_id=8)
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• Show Bio for John Hebert
"John Hebert was born in New Orleans, LA. He attended Loyola University from '90 to '92 where he was awarded with a complete scholarship. In 1992, John moved to the New York State area, completing his formal studies at William Paterson University in New Jersey; he graduated with a B.M. in Jazz Performance in 1994. After graduating, John moved to New York City where he quickly became a highly in demand bassist, both for live performances and studio sessions."-Marc Mommaas (http://www.mommaas.com/JohnHebert.html)
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• Show Bio for Ches Smith
"Born in San Diego, CA and raised in Sacramento, Ches Smith came up in a scene of punks and metal musicians who were listening to and experimenting with jazz and free improvisation. He studied philosophy at the University of Oregon before relocating to the San Francisco Bay area in 1995. After a few years of playing with obscure bands and intensive study with drummer / educator Peter Magadini, he enrolled in the graduate program at Mills College in Oakland at the suggestion of percussionist William Winant. There he studied percussion, improvisation, and composition with Winant, Fred Frith, Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Curran. One of Winant's first "assignments" for Ches was to sub in his touring gig at the time, Mr. Bungle (here he met bassist / composer Trevor Dunn who would later hire him for the second incarnation of his Trio-Convulsant). During his time at Mills, Ches co-founded two bands: Theory of Ruin (with Fudgetunnel / Nailbomb frontman Alex Newport), and Good for Cows (w/ Nels Cline Singers' Devin Hoff). He currently performs and records with Xiu Xiu, and Secret Chiefs 3. He has also performed with Ben Goldberg, Annie Gosfield, Wadada Leo Smith, John Tchicai, Fred Frith, and Trevor Dunn. In addition to Ceramic Dog, he also leads his two of his own projects, Congs for Brums and These Arches. He currently spends his time between Los Angeles, San Francisco and Brooklyn."-Ches Smith Website (http://www.chessmith.com/)
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