Illusionary Sea Mary Halvorson
- 1Illusionary Sea, No. 3307:07
- 2Smiles of Great Men, No. 3407:38
- 3Red Sky Still Sea, No. 3109:38
- 4Four Pages of Robots, No. 3007:13
- 5Fourth Dimensional Confession, No. 4106:40
- 6Butterfly Orbit, No. 3205:52
Info for Illusionary Sea
Firehouse 12 Records will release the Mary Halvorson Septet’s Illusionary Sea, the guitarist/composer’s fourth album as a leader for the label and the debut of her seven-piece ensemble. The new group adds Ingrid Laubrock (tenor saxophone) and Jacob Garchik (trombone) to Halvorson’s long-running quintet featuring Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet), Jon Irabagon (alto saxophone), John Hébert (bass), and Ches Smith (drums).
Illusionary Sea follows Halvorson’s much-lauded Firehouse 12 recordings Bending Bridges (2012), Saturn Sings (2010), and Dragon’s Head (2008). This body of work as a leader demonstrates why Halvorson has been described as "the most original jazz guitarist in a generation" (Michael J. West, Washington City Paper), and "one of today’s most formidable bandleaders" (Francis Davis, Village Voice).
At the end of 2011, Halvorson had finished writing two albums’ worth of quintet music and decided she was ready for a new challenge. Thinking of the constant encouragement of her mentor Anthony Braxton to “write for larger ensembles,” Halvorson decided to expand her core ensemble (which already included trio and quintet versions), creating a mini-big band that maintains the trust and rapport of her smaller groups. She says, “Adding to an existing band piece-by-piece feels like completing a puzzle, rather than starting from scratch.”
The album features six Halvorson originals, where the four-horn blend brings deeper sonority, orchestral possibility, and an increased level of intricacy to Halvorson’s distinctive compositional voice. The seven musicians are both masterful soloists and sensitive ensemble players, as individual spotlights seamlessly blend with collective energy. Halvorson closes the recording with a surprise, paying tribute to one of her musical heroes, Robert Wyatt. Her exquisite arrangement of "Nairam" - penned by Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine and recorded under the title "Maryan" on Wyatt's album Shleep - is the first cover to appear of any of Halvorson's albums as leader.
Jonathan Finlayson, trumpet
Jon Irabagon, alto saxophone
Ingrid Laubrock, tenor saxophone
Jacob Garchik, trombone
Mary Halvorson, guitar
John Hébert, bass
Ches Smith, drums
One of improvised music’s most in-demand guitarists, Mary 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). The Philadelphia City Paper’s Shaun Brady adds, “Halvorson has been steadily reshaping the sound of jazz guitar in recent years with her elastic, sometimes-fluid, sometimes-shredding, wholly unique style.”
After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she appears on over ten of Mr. Braxton’s recordings. Ms. 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, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey, Tomeka Reid and John Zorn.
As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson’s primary outlets is her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Since their 2008 debut album, Dragon’s Head, the band was recognized as a rising star jazz band by Downbeat Magazine for five consecutive years. Most recently she has formed an octet, adding trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, saxophonists Jon Irabagon and Ingrid Laubrock, trombonist Jacob Garchik, and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn. Their debut 2016 release, Away With You, on the Firehouse 12 Record label, was called “radiant” by the New York Times and “one of the most intricate and entrancing sets of her career” by Pitchfork. Ms. Halvorson is also a part of several collaborative projects including Thumbscrew (with Michael Formanek and Tomas Fujiwara), Secret Keeper (with Stephan Crump), a chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, and the avant-rock band People.
This album contains no booklet.