Mary Halvorson Quintet Bending Bridges

Mary Halvorson Quintet Bending Bridges
Guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson is an iconoclast who developed among other iconoclasts like Anthony Braxton, Myra Melford and Tim Berne. The first thing that strikes your ear is her tone; it's dry, really dry, occasionally supplemented by distortion. Her playing is direct, uncluttered and can get intense, as on "Hemorrhaging Smiles." Her horn players (Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet and alto sax firebrand Jon Irabagon) raise the emotional temperature. Irabagon is the most traditionally "jazzy" of the group, but he constantly references Halvorson's melodies in his playing, regardless of their abstractness, like he does in "Sea Cut Like Snow." Drummer Ches Smith is all over the metre and feel changes, his playing always committed, never equivocal. Two drawbacks are a sameness of the tempos and moods of the tunes ― there are no big change-ups differentiating one piece from the next. Nevertheless, what is clearly in evidence throughout the nine tracks is the quintet's dedication to realizing Halvorson's artistic vision fully. Their commitment is palpable and that makes for interesting music. (Firehouse 12)