Mary Halvorson ‎– Reverse Blue

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It was a couple of summers ago now when I made my way to Barbes in Brooklyn to hear a new group with guitarist Mary Halvorson called Reverse Blue. The name, she said, was inspired by her father who seemed to be toying with the possibilities of the word blue in song titles. It was a great show and I came away thinking two things: this was compositionally different than Mary's other work and that I'd love to have an album of it.

A few years later and we have Reverse Blue's first recording on Relative Pitch. The group is a who's who of forward thinking musicians: guitarist Halvorson, woodwind player Chris Speed, bassist Eivind Opsvik and percussionist Tomas Fujiwara, and all musicians frequently featured on this blog. The composition credits are half to Halvorson, then distributed among the other members, but the overall approach to the music is very much identifiable as a group. Musically, it's engaging, nimble and exciting. Tandem melodies and counter melodies pass quickly between Halvorson and Speed and strong rhythmic grounding from Opsvik and Fujiwara give them the room to maneuver.

The opening "Torturers Delight" starts off as an intricate dance between a baroque 8th note melody against and elongated tones from Speed, buts builds up to a muscular climax of distortion and even some shredding. Tracks like "Hako" feature Speed's warm tenor sound and rounded lines. The short "Ordered Thoughts Ceased" is a slow moving highlight, fraught with tension and hanging together on a bass-line that develops into an extended solo. The closing "Resting on Laurels" is a long tonal exploration that gives Fujiwara a lot of space to fill.

Might some of the tunes seem a bit straight ahead for some listeners? Perhaps. But to my ears, the delicate nature of some of these songs cleverly mask the depth and strength of the music. There is a lot to enjoy here, in the compositions, the colors, and the musicianship.

Paul Acquaro


SKU 8807
Barcode # RPR1025
Brand Relative Pitch Records

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