Everthing Happens to Be

Everthing Happens to Be.
Everthing Happens to Be.

Everything Happens to Be.” by Ben Goldberg.

A new album from a quintet organized by Ben Goldberg.

It would be easy to classify this as “Thumbscrew with Horns”, as the band IS Thumbscrew with two horn players. (And I always enjoy a good two horn blow out.) However, Ben is the brains of the outfit and composer of the tunes, rather than Mary, Michael, or Tomas being the instigators which gives it a very different caste. And more than Thumbscrew, this band is about melodic interplay and harmonies.

I read that the compositions are inspired by Chorale form, and, indeed, multipart harmonies and interaction between the different players melodic lines is far more prevalent than much modern Jazz.

I don’t know how through composed the structures here are, but it still feels mostly like Jazz, often very traditional Jazz, even while largely eschewing “head, solo, head” forms.

I think the somewhat Rococo sensibilities of all the players here just works well, making it feel like Jazz, even though the forms are a bit less traditional.

The album starts fairly placid and suckers you in, whistling along tunefully as you appreciate the interplay between Goldberg and Eskelin or Halvorson and Formanek. But by the time the we get to “Tomas Plays the Drums”, the album’s most raucus tune, and Goldberg pulls out the Contra Bass Clarinet, Halvorson cranks the distortion, Eskelin squonks enthusiastically, and Formanek and Fujiwara increase the tension, the album heads into very different territories.

To-Ron-To sounds like the sort of expressionist music landscape Jazz heads like Charles Mingus, (or even some light classical composers,) created to evoke modern car clogged urban environments of the 1940s and 1950s.

The album closes with a very traditional rendition of the hymn, “Abide With Me”, a fitting and peaceful Doxology for this enjoyable album and all the players contributions. I know I have been very happy to abide with this album over the last few days while I took the time to write it up.

Mary Halvorson – electric guitar
Ellery Eskelin – tenor saxophone
Michael Formanek – bass
Tomas Fujiwara – drums
Ben Goldberg – clarinets

All compositions by Ben Goldberg, except “Abide With Me,” by William Monk (by way of Thelonious Monk).

Everthing Happens to Be.
Everthing Happens to Be.

Theirs

Theirs by Thumbscrew.
Bandcamp Link: Theirs

Again, Thumbscrew is Michael Formanek, Bass; Tomas Fujiwara, Drums; Mary Halvorson, guitar.

Thumbscrew released two albums on the same day earlier this year, one called “Ours” and one called “Theirs”. It wasn’t until I came to listen to “Theirs” today that I realized why they were named such. “Ours” is all original tunes by the band. “Theirs” is all tunes by other composers.

I hesitate to call these “standards” as the songs are, as they say, “Deep Cuts” from composers like Bennie Golson, Herbie Nichols, Wayne Shorter, Stanley Cowell, and Misha Mengleberg.

They are all mostly ballads.

After the inventive playing and compositions on “Ours”, I find the more conservative tack of “Theirs” a tad disappointing.

The melodies are handled by the guitar player Halvorson, occasional solos are given to bass player Formanek, and the drummer mostly sticks to brushes.

It’s not that it is a bad record, it just feels kind of predictable. Which is odd for a group of musicians as talented and interesting as these are. But, maybe being “predictable” for these musicians is being “unpredictable”? I guess, ultimately, I’d say, if you liked the sound and interactions on “Ours”, but found it a bit too eclectic for your tastes, maybe “Theirs” is the album for you.

#Thumbscrew #Theirs #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #MaryHalvorson #TomasFujiwara #MichaelFormanek

2017-11-03 Paimon: The Book of the Angels Volume 32

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Paimon: The Book of Angels Volume 32. Mary Halvorson Quartet plays Masada Book Two.

Label Link: Paimon

Oddly, this is a fairly traditional Jazz album by Mary Halvorson, Miles Okazaki, Drew Gress, and Tomas Fujiwara. Two guitars, Bass, and Drums, respectively. For the most part both Halvorson and Okazaki keep their guitar tone fairly dry, limiting digital effects to the odd flourish.

Well, I suppose, “Fairly Traditional Modal Jazz in a Klezmer style”, would be a more accurate way to describe this album.

The impressive thing is the way the two guitarists double each other at intervals, playing the melodies with harmonies, rather than the traditional lead and rhythm guitar type arrangement. A nice bass solo from Gress and some impressive cymbal work from Fujiwara round out the album.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

#TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #MaryHalvorson #Paimon #Tzadik #MaryHalvorsonQuartet #TomasFujiwara #DrewGress #milesokazaki