Mary Halvorson

Primary Instrument: Guitar

Mary Halvorson

The success of her acclaimed 2008 debut, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12 Records), led critics to call Ms. Halvorson “probably the most original jazz guitarist to emerge this decade” (Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader) and “the freshest, busiest, most critically acclaimed guitar-slinger out of downtown Manhattan/Brooklyn right now” (Howard Mandel, Jazz Beyond Jazz).

“A singular talent,” adds’s Troy Collins, “Brooklyn-based guitarist Mary Halvorson has come into her own as a composer and improviser…light years ahead of her peers, she is the most impressive guitarist of her generation. The future of jazz guitar starts here.” ...
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Mary Halvorson and her guitar have offered some of the freshest rainfall on the jazz umbrella. Her compositions challenge mundane notions of melody and harmony: a true step forward for the music movement.
--Jason Moran, New York Magazine

Frequently lauded as the most original and innovative guitarist of her generation, Halvorson's unorthodox virtuosity has positioned her at the creative forefront of the youthful Brooklyn scene. Demonstrating growth as a composer on ten new pieces conceived primarily for her Quintet, Halvorson's embrace of contrapuntal harmonies and modular structures reveals a multi-faceted artist whose writing is as impressive as her improvising.
--Troy Collins, Point of Departure

I think she’s a very interesting musician.
--John Fordham, BBC 3's Jazz on 3

...Halvorson’s is a devastatingly original voice.
--Marcus O'Dair, the of the most interesting musicians in the contemporary jazz and improvised music constellation.
--Mike Chamberlain, HOUR

Part of why so many jazz insiders are down with her is clearly her guitar style. Man. It's a sound that takes clean, woody articulation, then ruptures it: Clashing broken chords, fallaway bent strings, dissonant note choices, outright rock shredding. It's crazy, in that good, mouth agape, “how did she do that, and why does it seem to make sense?” sort of way.
--Patrick Jarenwattananon, NPR’s A Blog Supreme

Even when Halvorson summons her crisp, clear-toned runs, pitch bends and brittle spidery arpeggios -- echoing the combined crafts of Nels Cline, Joe Morris and Derek Bailey -- in relatively conventional settings, her propensity for shape- shifting never fails to dazzle. While she may be receiving most attention for her moves located at jazz’s periphery, it’s the music Halvorson constructs from the form’s raw materials that continue to bear the sweetest fruit.
--Spencer Grady, BBC Music

Mary Halvorson might be the most original jazz guitarist in a generation. But she’s a composer, too, and (despite lots of unique six-string work) that’s where the focus lies on her challenging but riveting second album, Saturn Sings. As with her playing, her tunes evade’s Halvorson’s writing that makes all this creativity possible. Her innovative guitar playing is an essential component -- but riding on such high-grade material, it feels more like a bonus.
--Michael J. West, Washington City Paper

Halvorson has been ubiquitous lately, appearing on recent albums by Ches Smith's These Arches quartet (Finally Out of My Hands), Tomas Fujiwara and The Hook Up (Actionspeak) and the Tom Rainey Trio (Pool School), all of whom are drummers, conspicuously enough. These are all worth a listen because, honestly, Mary Halvorson is the most future-seeking guitarist working right now, thinking out the instrument on a level most couldn't comprehend. But Halvorson's compositions display that exploration with a telepathic connection between her fingers and the sound, making Saturn Sings her strongest document to date.
--Lars Gotrich,

Outside but also inside, adventurous but also accessible, Saturn Sings is a new sound from a new star.
--Chris May,

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