Mary Halvorson In November

November 13, 2009

Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Fresh off a successful European duo tour with Jessica Pavone that ended earlier in the month, guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson is only playing a few gigs in November with Crackleknob, Ellery Eskelin and Lisa Mezzacappa.

Next month things heat up again when she will play two gigs with her quintet, record the follow-up to her acclaimed debut, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records), and head back to Europe for a week-long tour with her longstanding trio featuring John Hébert and Ches Smith.

11/15 :: Douglass Street Music Collective (Brooklyn, NY)

Ellery Eskelin
11/21 :: Cornelia Street Cafe (New York, NY)

Lisa Mezzacappa
11/22 :: Zebulon (Brooklyn, NY)

Firehouse 12 Records To Release New CDs From Carl Maguire And John Hébert

March 26, 2009

On June 16th, Firehouse 12 Records will release music from its two newest artists, keyboardist/composer Carl Maguire’s longstanding band Floriculture and bassist/composer John HébertSided Silver Solid (FH12-04-01-009) is Floriculture’s second recording and its first as a quintet featuring new members, violist Stephanie Griffin and multi-instrumentalist Oscar Noriega.  Hébert makes his recorded debut as a bandleader on Byzantine Monkey (FH12-04-01-010) after nearly a decade as one of New York’s most in-demand sidemen. 

Floriculture has performed Maguire’s sophisticated compositions around New York since 2001.  Its current line-up features Maguire (piano and Rhodes), Griffin (viola), Noriega (clarinets and alto saxophone), Hébert (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums).  The group began as a quartet, but grew to a quintet following its self-titled 2005 debut on the German label, Between the Lines.  The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, Eighth Edition gave the record four stars and called it “As exciting a debut release as any in the last few years.”

Other critics were equally enthusiastic, noting “Maguire’s amazing compositions” (Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez,, “the way he basically recontextualized a Fender Rhodes” (Time Out New York), “a kind of rigorous enthusiasm in play that was seriously exciting” (Brian Olewnick, Bagatellen) and “an overwhelming percentage of the attributes that make for stimulating listening” (Nic Jones,  The New Yorker adds, “Floriculture pulls off its new-jazz improvisation and lyrical abstraction with panache.”

Based in New York since 1995, Maguire, a native of Madison, Wisconsin, has studied piano with Marilyn Crispell, Fred Hersch and Ursula Oppens, improvisation with Roscoe Mitchell and composition with Mark Dresser.  Known for his abilities on piano, Rhodes and accordion, he has led Floriculture, his main focus as a bandleader, for the past eight years, in addition to performing and recording with a wide variety of other groups, such as the Laurel Anders Orchestra, Barbez, Butch Morris’ New York Skyscraper, Brett Sroka’s Ergo, the Tyshawn Sorey Quartet and The Wau Wau Sisters.

Byzantine Monkey documents Hébert’s sextet of the same name featuring frequent collaborators Michaël Attias (alto and baritone saxophones), Tony Malaby (tenor and soprano saxophones), Adam Kolker (flutes and bass clarinet), Nasheet Waits (drums) and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion).  The band takes its name from a suggestion by Hébert’s wife, LoJen Yin, who explains, “First, imagine the type of music a Byzantine Monkey would write, and what it would sound like.  It is whimsical, mysterious, and a surreal juxtaposition of images and ideas.  It captures a mood and spirit of the composer himself.”

Hébert’s original compositions for the group take their inspiration from a variety of sources, including his interest in Cajun music, his travels to different parts of the world and his gratitude and respect for his mentor, legendary pianist/composer Andrew Hill, with whom Hébert worked from 2001 until his death in 2007.  The musicians bringing that music to life in Byzantine Monkey have all worked extensively with Hébert in other ensembles, including Attias, Kolker and Malaby’s own groups and Hill’s trio and quintet.

One of the busiest bassists in New York, the New Orleans native has garnered strong showings in the Rising Star Acoustic Bass category of DownBeat‘s annual Critics Poll for the past three years.  His discography features more than 45 recordings since 2000, including titles by Dave Ballou, Uri Caine, Steve Lehman, Andrew Rathbun, Dave Scott and Gebhard Ullmann.  Hébert first appeared on Firehouse 12 Records as a member of the Mary Halvorson Trio on that group’s critically acclaimed 2008 debut, Dragon’s Head (FH12-04-01-007).  The disc was featured on best-of-the-year lists in such publications as AllAboutJazz-New York, JazzTimes, the New York Times, The Wire and the Village Voice.

Mary Halvorson Featured On NPR Music

February 12, 2009

The Mary Halvorson Trio‘s December 22nd performance/interview on WNYC’s Soundcheck is now being featured on the NPR Music Web site.

The 16-minute segment includes Ms. Halvorson speaking about a number of career and music-related topics, as well as live performances of two tracks from the trio’s acclaimed 2008 debut, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records).

Ms. Halvorson and her trio, along with special guests Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet) and Jon Irabagon (saxophone), will perform at Roulette in New York on Friday night.

Dragon’s Head Reviewed At Bagatellen

February 2, 2009

Clifford Allen’s review of the Mary Halvorson Trio’s acclaimed debut, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records), is now posted at Bagatellen.

Allen writes, “Halvorson’s approach to writing this music draws as much—if not more—from contemporary left-field rock as it does free improvisation or jazz, and it just might happen that Dragon’s Head is the best indie-rock record to have come down the pike in quite a while.”

Washington City Paper: Dragon’s Head Worth Your Attention

January 2, 2009

The Washington City Paper‘s Michael J. West spotlights five avant-garde jazz albums released in 2008 that he feels “deserve your attention” in his December 31st entry in the publication’s blog, Black Plastic Bag.   

Number three on his list is guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson’s Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records).

West, who penned a feature on Ms. Halvorson for the December issue of JazzTimes, writes, “The guitarist leads a Hendrix-inspired trio featuring bassist John Hebert and drummer Ches Smith through a set of her own intuitively designed compositions. Between her unconventional approach to structure and her thorny guitar style, however, it’s impossible to tell where composition ends and improv begins, and vice versa; the effect is not unlike watching a cat unfurl a ball of yarn, with no telling which directions the string might end up going but, ultimately, a layout of distinct but unusual patterns.”

2008 Village Voice Jazz Poll

December 31, 2008

The results of the 2008 Village Voice Jazz Poll are in and we’re pleased to report that five of our clients’ releases made the top 30 in the Jazz Album of the Year category.

#16: William Parker Quartet, Petit Oiseau (AUM Fidelity)
#21: Mary Halvorson Trio, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records) 
#24: Mario Pavone, Trio Arc (Playscape Recordings)
#27: William Parker, Double Sunrise Over Neptune (AUM Fidelity)
#29: Bill Dixon, 17 Musicians In Search Of A Sound: Darfur (AUM Fidelity)

Congratulations are also in order for the following releases included on individual voters’ top 10 lists as part of the polling.

Jason Adasiewicz, Rolldown (482 Music)
Roy Campbell, Akhenaten Suite (AUM Fidelity)
Yoon Sun Choi/Jacob Sacks, Imagination (Yeah Yeah Records)
Nicole Mitchell, Xenogenesis Suite (Firehouse 12 Records)
Mario Pavone Double Tenor Quintet, Ancestors (Playscape Recordings)
Eri Yamamoto, Duologue (AUM Fidelity)
Eri Yamamoto Trio, Redwoods (AUM Fidelity)

AAJ-NY’s Best Of 2008

December 30, 2008

We’re pleased to report that several of our clients are honored in AllAboutJazz-New York‘s Best of 2008 feature in the January 2009 issue. Please find the details below.

The complete issue, also featuring a cover story on William Parker, is available free in venues and jazz-related sites all over New York and downloadable as a PDF by clicking here.

Congratulations to all the musicians, labels and organizations named among the year’s best.

Record Labels of the Year:
AUM Fidelity

Performances of the Year:
Billy Bang/Kidd Jordan/William Parker/Hamid Drake @ Vision Festival XIII
William Parker’s Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield @ Vision Festival XIII

Albums of the Year:
Mario Pavone, Trio Arc (Playscape Recordings)

Vocal Releases of the Year:
Yoon Sun Choi/Jacob Sacks, Imagination: The Music of Joe Raposo (Yeah Yeah Records) 

Tribute Recordings of the Year:
Yoon Sun Choi/Jacob Sacks, Imagination: The Music of Joe Raposo (Yeah Yeah Records) 

Debut Albums of the Year:
Mary Halvorson Trio, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records) 

Honorable Mention:
Bill Dixon, 17 Musicians In Search Of A Sound: Darfur (Arts for Art/AUM Fidelity) 
Garrison Fewell/Eric Hofbauer, The Lady of Khartoum (Creative Nation Music)
Nicole Mitchell, Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute To Octavia Butler (Firehouse 12 Records)
William Parker, Double Sunrise Over Neptune (Arts for Art/AUM Fidelity)
William Parker Quartet, Petit Oiseau (AUM Fidelity)
George Schuller’s Circle Wide, Like Before, Somewhat After (Playscape Recordings)