Howard Mandel: Best Jazz CDs Of 2009

December 1, 2009

Author, jazz critic and President of the Jazz Journalists Association Howard Mandel posted a list of his favorite CDs from 2009 on his blog, Jazz Beyond Jazz, this past Friday.

Darcy James Argue’s Infernal Machines (New Amsterdam) and The Thirteenth Assembly’s (un)sentimental (Important Records) both earned spots of the 11-title list.

Of the former, Mandel writes, “Recasting the ‘jazz’ orchestra with an ear hip to a spectrum of contemporary composition but most of all sound itself, Argue diplays a nervy ethos by conducting 18 not-very-well-known but gutsy instrumentalists through arresting themes, solid rhythms and energized solos. This is Brooklyn offline, ironic but earnest, and has drawn a following among listeners in their late 20s-early 30s.”

And, he called the debut of Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone’s collective quartet, The Thirteenth Assembly, “Chamber music for moderns—a cornetist, drummer, guitarist and violaist walk the lines between structure and improv, sensitivity and humor, questions and suggestions, inherent references to the past and unpretentious confidence they’re in the right place for music now.”

The list was compiled from nearly 1000 CDs Mandel received for review since last November, so naturally there were lots of honorable mentions. John Hébert’s highly regarded debut, Byzantine Monkey (Firehouse 12), was part of the “Also Much Enjoyed” list.

UPDATE: Mandel’s Top 11 of 2009 is now posted at the Jazz Journalists Association’s Web site.


AAJ-NY Reviews The Thirteenth Assembly’s (Un)sentimenal

June 29, 2009

Sean Fitzell reviews The Thirteenth Assembly‘s debut CD, (un)sentimental (Important Records), in the July issue of AllAboutJazz-New York.

“Guitarist Mary Halvorson, violist Jessica Pavone, cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum and drummer Tomas Fujiwara have longstanding duo and trio permutations and to end their concerts, they convene as a quartet and have forged a distinct identity from the subgroups within,” he explains.

“With committed performances drawn from intertwined histories and diverse stylistic influences, The Thirteenth Assembly exemplifies how a practical strategy can reveal a novel creative opportunity.”

(Un)Sentimental And Thin Air Reviewed In The Wire

April 17, 2009
Photo by Hilary McHone

Photo by Hilary McHone

Daniel Spicer’s joint review of The Thirteenth Assembly‘s (un)sentimental (Important Records) and Mary Halvorson and Jessica Pavone‘s Thin Air (Thirsty Ear) appears in the May 2009 issue of The Wire.

Spicer notes The Thirteenth Assembly’s “diverse, often surprising compositions,” “mischievous good humour,” and “moments when the music transcends genre.”

He also highlights the duo’s “compelling musicianship” and Halvorson’s “impressive timbral palette ranging from fierce, taut scribbles to subtle smears of effects.”

“It easily confirms her position as one of the most relentlessly inventive guitarists working in creative music today,” he adds.

The Thirteenth Assembly Featured In The Wall Street Journal

April 9, 2009
Photo by Hilary McHone

Photo by Hilary McHone

The quartet of cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, guitarist Mary Halvorson, violist Jessica Pavone and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, otherwise known as The Thirteenth Assembly, is featured in today’s Wall Street Journal.

“Each of these musicians is a masterly soloist, and they all are creating music that is delicate, complex and eclectic,” writes Martin Johnson. “The four musicians have released some of the most compelling jazz of the past six months.”

The Thirteenth Assembly’s debut, (un)sentimental, was released in February on Important Records.

The Thirteenth Assembly’s New CD Reviewed At

March 30, 2009
Photo by Hilary McHone

Photo by Hilary McHone

Troy Collins’ review of The Thirteenth Assembly‘s debut release, (un)sentimental (Important Records), was posted today at  The group features cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, violist Jessica Pavone, guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara.

He writes, “The unified ensemble sound of The Thirteenth Assembly is centered around empathetic communication and a willingness to subvert ego for the good of the group; there is no grandstanding here, only four longstanding friends conspiring to make adventurous yet accessible music. A stunning achievement, (un)sentimental demonstrates the endless possibilities of contemporary music by players at the top of their game.”

NY Times Reviews The Thirteenth Assembly

March 14, 2009
Photo by Hilary McHone

Photo by Hilary McHone

Today’s New York Times features a live review of The Thirteenth Assembly‘s Wednesday night CD release party at Barbès by Nate Chinen who writes, “this is a group with an admirably relaxed sense of self, and a shared conviction to keep all options open.”

The group’s debut, (un)sentimental (Important Records), is now available.

The Thirteenth Assembly @ Barbès This Wednesday

March 10, 2009
Photo by Hilary McHone

Photo by Hilary McHone

On Wednesday, March 11th at 8:00 p.m., The Thirteenth Assembly will celebrate its new CD, (un)sentimental (Important Records), at Barbès in Brooklyn.

The New York-based quartet features Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet), Jessica Pavone (viola), Mary Halvorson (guitar) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums).