Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mary Halvorson Trio - Dragon's Head (Firehouse 12, 2008)

Mary Halvorson is an experimental guitarist who came up studying and playing with Anthony Braxton. Her music bridges jazz, rock and experimental music, and on this album she is joined by John Herbett on bass and Ches Smith on drums. The music here has a mysterious feel, never resolving itself quite as you think you should, and therefore remains interesting throughout. Imagine Wayne Shorter playing guitar led free jazz (if you can) and you get the ides. Halvorson has a brittle tone to her instrument, scattering fragmented notes and occasionally delving into abstraction."Momentary Lapse" has some good trio interplay where the conversation amongst the musicians is deep and thoughtful and no one tries to dominate the proceedings. The music gradually becomes more overdriven with wild lines streaming from her guitar in a very exciting manner. This song is very potent and powerful and quite imposing in its strength, before dropping back into the subtle and obscure melody. "Screws Loose" has urgent sounding playing, while "Scant Flame" is stressed, fractured and fast paced with exciting ever shifting textures that keep the music interesting. "Sweeter Than You" builds it's emotional strength based on ominous repetition, before breaking into slashing improvised sections, and "Too Many Ties" has an interesting feel with some slurred and smeared guitar lines. I enjoyed this album, but it did take a few spins to get into it. The music is deep and thoughtful and is a product of a lot of careful consideration by the musicians. There may not be a lot of whistleable melodies to be found here, but the interaction amongst the musicians and the unique feel of the emotional depth of the music are memorable.
Dragon's Head -

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