AMN Reviews: Mary Halvorson Octet – Away With You (2016; Firehouse 12 Records)


It would be sufficient for Mary Halvorson to just continue being an avant-jazz guitarist with broad influences and a distinctive style. She would stay busy and garner praise. But here, she steps up as a leader once again, this time with her biggest outfit yet.

The lineup is identical to that of 2013’s Illusionary Sea, with the addition of Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar. The other contributors are Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Jon Irabagon on alto saxophone, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor saxophone, Jacob Garchik on trombone, John Hébert on bass, and Ches Smith on drums. Under Halvorson’s deft guidance, the octet navigates eight labyrinthine compositions.

With an ensemble of such size, it would be hard to categorize this as a guitarist’s solo album. Halvorson’s voice herein is just one among many, though it makes clear statements. But not unlike Illusionary Sea, as well as her other works for larger outfits, Away With You is a composers showcase. The horns roll off of one another in counterpoint over ominous 6-string picking and chording, with Alcorn providing atmospherics, and Hébert and Smith contributing a busy low end. Themes morph and adjust until all players join in free-form blowouts, then the themes reprise once again.

In some ways, Halvorson’s compositional style is as disjointed and prickly as her playing. Channeling her inner Braxton, she makes sharp left turns when the listener is expecting straight lines, while leading the octet through dense non-linearities. On the other hand, her use of space is masterfully delicate, building tension for the inevitable chaotic release.

As noted above, guitar sometimes takes a primary role. However, this not to the exclusion of the other instruments. Duets between Alcorn and Halvorson are particular compelling, though taking up only bits and pieces of the album. Hébert also provides a long, powerful solo break. But Away With You is at its best when all eight players are working through complex charts, and soloing around the edges. The result is nothing short of exhilarating.

Recent Mary Halvorson Reviews:


Seattle Scene: November 3-19, 2016

English: The American composer Alvin Curran pl...

From Seattle’s Wayward Music Series:

Chapel Performance Space at Good Shepherd Center
4th Floor, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N, Seattle 98103 (corner N 50th St. in Wallingford)

Every month, Nonsequitur and a community of like-minded presenters and artists offer ten concerts of adventurous music in an informal yet respectful all-ages setting: contemporary classical, free improvisation, the outer limits of jazz, electronic music, microtonal/new instruments, sound art, and other extraordinary sonic experiences.

Seattle Modern Orchestra
Thu. Nov. 3, 7:30 PM; $25/$15/$10 online

Seattle Modern Orchestra opens its 2016-17 season with a concert featuring works by three composers who reflect on the past, both personal and cultural, to create an expressive music for today: Wolfgang Rihm‘s Redittio, for ensemble, Vykintas Baltakas’ Chiffre II (Silence to be beaten), and the world premiere of Andrew Waggoner’s Concerto for Piano, with guest pianist Gloria Cheng.

Seattle Composers’ Salon
Fri. Nov. 4, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

An evening of music and discussion with Seattle composers Keith Eisenbrey, Jeremy Shaskus, Daniel Webbon, and Neil Welch. At bi-monthly, informal presentations, the Seattle Composers’ Salon features finished works, previews, and works in progress by regional composers and performers in a casual setting that allows for experimentation and discussion. Everyone is welcome!

Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV)
Sat. Nov. 5, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Since its early years, when MEV shocked audiences, sparked diatribes, and pushed the very concept of music into new territories, the group has gone through intermittent periods of activity and dormancy. Core members Alvin Curran, Frederic Rzewski, and Richard Tietelbaum are all legendary artists who now reconvene to share the stage and break new collective ground. Presented by Nonsequitur.

Dialectical Imagination + C. Pincock
Thu. Nov. 10, 8 PM; $5 – $15 at the door

Dialectical Imagination is the bi-coastal duo of pianist Eli Wallace and percussionist Rob Pumpelly. Their music is a unique embrace of the composition/improvisation paradox. Seattle trombonist Christian Pincock leads a small group of musicians using Soundpainting, the internationally-practiced sign language for live composition or conducted improvisation.

FRI. 11/11 – Satchel Henneman performs new works for solo guitar by local composers

SAT. 11/12 – LA trombonist Michael Vlatkovich, saxophonist Yves Chartuest, with locals Jim Knodle (trumpet) and Greg Campbell (percussion)

THU. 11/17 – Josh Medina & Paurl Walsh celebrate their new album on Debacle Records

FRI. 11/18 – Further Records presents DIAD + Contact Cult with visuals by KillingFrenzy

SAT. 11/19 – butoh dancer Vanessa Skantze with percussionist Greg Campbell and clarinettist/vocalist Beth Fleenor

Coming to LA’s REDCAT

English: A self-portrait photograph by and of ...

Source: REDCAT.

November 9
Musica Elettronica Viva (MEV)
Fifty years after co-founding of MEV in Rome, three masters of improvisation, Alvin Curran, Frederic Rzewski and Richard Teitelbaum, reunite for an evening of freewheeling, groundbreaking music. In its early years MEV shocked audiences, sparked diatribes, and pushed the very concept of music into new territories. Through periods of activity and dormancy, the band’s remaining three members led busy solo careers: Curran, the composer, the man of great designs; Rzewski, the piano virtuoso and composer of the famous variations The People United Will Never Be Defeated!; and Teitelbaum, the live electronic music pioneer. Each of their performances is an exceptional moment; everything is allowed, except, perhaps, taking themselves too seriously.

November 10
REDCAT and The Broad present
Callings Out of Context: Rhys Chatham and Priests
Legendary noise-drone pioneer Rhys Chatham is featured in a shared concert with inventive Washington D.C. alt/punk band Priests, in the fourth edition of The Broad’s groundbreaking music series. Featuring some of today’s most exciting and transgressive musicians, Callings Out of Context is an aural complement to the Broad collection’s holdings of Pop Art. The series features hybrid-minded contemporary musical artists that engage, point to and tell stories about the modern market they are simultaneously a part of, while opening our ears to new perspectives on genre, repetition and mass production. Each program pairs artists from divergent corners of the marketplace, from the heart of indie-rock to the fringes of hip-hop and electronic music to the experimentalism of the avant-garde. The series title was inspired by the Arthur Russell song “Calling Out of Context.” Co-Curated by Ted Hearne and Brandon Stosuy.

November 11
gnarwhallaby: heterophonic avant–garde
Known for its musical verve and ensemble virtuosity, Los Angeles quartet gnarwhallaby makes its debut at REDCAT with work composed for the unique instrumentation of clarinet, trombone, violoncello, and piano. The group extends the mission first put forward by Warsztat Muzyczny and later by Quartett Avance, and makes a significant contribution to a fascinating, though relatively unknown, body of contemporary repertoire with new commissions and original compositions by its members. The concert features a trombone mini-concerto by Henryk Górecki and a new work by California composer Michelle Lou on a program spanning five decades of the Euro-American avant-garde. gnarwhallaby comprises clarinetist Brian Walsh, trombonist Matt Barbier, cellist Derek Stein, and pianist Richard Valitutto— all instrumentalists of boundary-breaking technique, all CalArts graduates.

November 18
Eyvind Kang, with Special Guest Guitarist Bill Frisell
Internationally acclaimed composer, performer and recording artist Eyvind Kang gives his first Los Angeles concert since relocating to the city as the newest member of the CalArts music faculty. He has released more than 20 albums on labels such as Black Truffle, Abduction, Editions Mego, Idealogic Organ, Ipecac and Tzadik, and his music has been performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Iceland Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles. In addition to his ongoing collaboration with composer-vocalist Jessika Kenney, Kang has played viola and other instruments with Bill Frisell, Laurie Anderson, John Zorn, Sun City Girls, the Secret Chiefs 3, Animal Collective and Blonde Redhead. As a soloist, he has performed work by Christian Wolff, Giacinto Scelsi and Hanne Darboven, among other composers.

Santa Sangre Reviews

Source: Santa Sangre.

Shield Patterns – Mirror Breathing
Unland – Die Ruhe nach dem Sturm
Hidden Place – Nero Schwarz
Von Zachinsky – Vandringsman
Council Estate Electronics ‎– Arktika
Black Hair Rolled in Dried Blood – Strength & Beauty Destined to Decay
Hoarfrost ‎– Anima Mundi
Rapoon ‎– Wanderlust
7jk – Ride the Solar Tide

Musique Machine Reviews

Source: Musique Machine.

Vagrant – Canal
[BOLT] & Growth – Split
Ragnar Johnson assisted by Jessica Meyer – Madang / Windim Mabu
The Sleeping Quarter/Carrie – Lana/You’re All I Ever Wanted
Facez Of Death 2000 – Dead In Asia
Andrew Chalk, Ralf Wehowsky & Eric Lanzi – Yang-tul
Khost [Deconstructed and Reconstructed B – Needles Into the Ground



October 30, 2016
Nate Wooley Solo, Legion Bar
Nate Wooley

October 30, 2016
Jonathan Goldberger, Anna Webber, Simon Jermyn, Jeff Davis, Legion Bar
Jeff Davis Jonathan Goldberger Simon Jermyn Anna Webber

October 30, 2016
Yoni Kretzmer, Adam Hopkins, Jeff Davis, Legion Bar
Jeff Davis Adam Hopkins Yoni Kretzmer

October 29, 2016
Unnatural Ways + Levy Lorenzo, The Stone
Tim Dahl Levy Lorenzo Ava Mendoza Sam Ospovat

October 24, 2016
Thomas Helton, Jaimie Branch, Michael Evans, 65 Fen
Jaimie Branch Michael Evans Thomas Helton

October 24, 2016
Thomas Helton & Damon Smith, 65 Fen
Thomas Helton Damon Smith