Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mary Halvorson: Bending Bridges

Mary Halvorson (guitar)
Bending Bridges (Firehouse 12 Records; 2012)
Ches Smith (drums)
Jon Irabagon (sax)
Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet)
John Hebert (bass)

So I was having an argument with a friend as I was introducing him to one of my favourite artists and I finally realized something...Mary Halvorson is a threat to jazz!

She is quickly transforming a listener's perception of what the genre is. Her incorporation of indie rock muscularity and free jazz aesthetics is blurring the lines. She is reconstructing sound in a new image and pattern. Basically, making us think and feel the music without a predetermined tag. Enjoy it the way you wish to interpret it.

Bending Bridges, her newest release with her quintet signifies that direction and forward-thinking philosophy with great brilliance. A brief member of Anthony Braxton quartet only a few years ago, Halvorson brings a bright sense of creativity and experiementalism that is reminiscent of that time. The slow building but rewarding opener, "Sink When She Rounds The Bend" revolves around some gentle delivery by Halvorson fused perfectly with the horn section until the surprising and waterfall clashing of instruments towards it's ending. This demonstrates Halvorson's interest in breaking free even from the term improvisation.

"Forgotten Men In Silver," with fluctuating time signatures and cross patterns that are sure to cause the casual listener to scratch their head wildly, is my favourite piece. Part blues, part experiment. Hebert and Smith are given the space to create their own mood. It conjures up enough diverging moments that you almost forget the moment when Halvorson returns to calm the proceedings.

"The Periphery Of Scandal" with valuable staccato movements, has Halvorson playing the mercurial leader. The band seem to improvise around but then everyone returns at once for a thunderous middle section that may owe more to hard rock nights than indie club gigs. I loved the action and strength displayed throughout this piece.

"That Old Sound" strangely applies folk and free form which send fourth a tune that becomes interpersonal, cerebral and effective. Halvorson closes out the album with an almost contemporary piece "All The Clocks." Iraboagon provides the closest thing this session gets to a standard couple of lines. Halvorson and Hebert then proceed with counterpoints that are both combative as they are beautiful. Finlayson rolls a number of notes that rise with a great deal vibrant joy.

There's a reason Mary Halvorson has quickly become one of the most important names on the scene. She thinks differently than many of her counterparts and seeks to rise above the standard definitions. Bending Bridges is the document of truth. And Mary Halvorson is an artist who is a threat of breaking the genre in half. And that's a very, very, very good thing. I have been waiting for this album for 12 months and I can pretty much tell you all right now--Bending Bridges is the JazzWrap Album Of The Year.

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