Concert: Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue
March 27, 2017
The Magic Triangle Jazz Series, produced by the Fine Arts Center, in collaboration with the Smith College department of music, continues its 28th season with a performance by Mary Halvorson’s Reverse Blue, featuring Mary Halvorson, guitar, Chris Speed, saxophone, clarinet, Eivind Opsvik, bass and Tomas Fujiwara, drums. The concert is free and open to the public.
One of improvised music’s most in-demand guitarists, 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).
After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she has appeared on six of Braxton’s recordings. 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, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey and Mike Reed.
As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson’s primary outlet 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. 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.
“In the past few years, Mary Halvorson, already an acclaimed member of New York's Downtown improv scene, has been earning widespread recognition as a bandleader and composer of note,” writes Troy Collins. “Her writing displays an increasing sophistication with each new effort, revealing a compositional maturity as distinctive as her idiosyncratic guitar technique. Her latest ensemble, Reverse Blue, first performed at NYC's Blue Note as part of Search and Restore's ‘Spontaneous Constructions’ series. Despite their mixed pedigree, there is an aesthetic similarity amongst the tunes that lends a sense of stylistic cohesion to the proceedings. Cohesive, yet varied enough to signify its collaborative nature, Reverse Blue is another exceptional release from one of today's most adventurous artists.”