Mary Halvorson – Reverse Blue (4 stars)

Mary Halvorson – Reverse Blue

'What sets her apart from other virtuosos is her distinctive compositional voice'

(Relative Pitch)

New York guitarist and composer Mary Halvorson combines the history of jazz guitar with an avant-rock sensibility: think Mark Ribot or Bill Frisell drawing oblique pop angles with Deerhoof. What sets her apart from other virtuosos is her distinctive compositional voice: harmolodically complex, but with a knack for attractive themes and strong rhythmic hooks. 'Torturer's Reverse' opens with her plucking out a pretty, almost baroque, figure, as Chris Speed's saxophone glides softly by. The band shifts gear into a driving rock vamp, all purring power chords and fidgety fretboard runs. Ace drummer Thomas Fujiwara ratchets up the energy levels, pushing Halvorson to skronky abstractions, before she pulls back to trace crab-like patterns over his free-pulse barrage. 'Hako' has a lovely modal jazz feel, with an Arkestral Egyptian melody emerging from a vibraphone-like guitar shimmer, while 'Really OK' knocks a neat bebop theme out of orbit with wonky axe mischief.

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