Mary Halvorson with Anti-House, Jazzclub Unterfahrt, Munich, Germany, January 2011
|Born||16th October 1980|
Brookline, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Genres||Free jazz, avant-garde jazz, experimental flamenco, psychedelia|
|Labels||Firehouse 12, Thirsty Ear, Cuneiform|
|Associated acts||Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant, Marc Ribot|
She is a 2002 graduate of Wesleyan University. She has performed with Anthony Braxton, Jessica Pavone, Robbie Lee, Taylor Ho Bynum, Trevor Dunn's Trio-Convulsant, Marc Ribot, Susan Alcorn, Yo La Tengo and Weasel Walter. As of 2008, she leads a trio including John Hebert and Ches Smith. She is also associated with violist Jessica Pavone, with whom she has recorded as a duo.
Troy Collins of All About Jazz calls Halvorson "[a] singular talent...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." Jon Garelick of The Phoenix writes, "It's that search for her own thing that's made Halvorson...one of the most celebrated young guitarists in jazz, someone who has a unique sound both as a player and a composer." In 2017, Halvorson won Best Guitar in DownBeat's 65th Annual DownBeat International Critics Poll.
Mary began her musical education on violin but was enthralled with the idea of playing guitar after discovering Jimi Hendrix. She first picked up electric guitar at the age of 11 in seventh grade. Her first guitar teacher was Issi Rozen.
She initially enrolled in Wesleyan University to study Biology, but dropped her prospective major after sitting in on one of saxophonist Anthony Braxton's music classes. Mary quickly connected with him and he heavily encouraged her to find her own expression on guitar. She also took lessons with guitarist Joe Morris at Wesleyan University.
Although Halvorson is often categorized as a jazz guitarist, her music includes elements of many other genres, such as flamenco, rock, noise, and psychedelia. In a 2018 interview with Jazz Times, Halvorson described the guitar as a "neutral vessel", saying “The cool thing about the guitar is it’s not associated as much with a particular genre... it could be classical, it could be rock and roll, it could be jazz, it could be folk.”
2016: Away With You
2018: Code Girl
Code Girl was Halvorson's first attempt at writing lyrics for her original works, which are sung by Amirtha Kidambi and inspired by the songwriting of Robert Wyatt and Elliot Smith. The album also features drummer Tomas Fujiwara, bassist Michael Formanek and Blue Note trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire. The album received an 8.1 rating from a Pitchfork review explaining, "The pleasure of this kind of text comes from the way it invites active listening as a means of interpretation."
Code Girl is named after an offhand remark by her teacher Anthony Braxton, who used the phrase in conversation while on a European tour with Halvorson. Later, she settled on the phrase as an album title, because "at that point I'd written a lot of the lyrics...and they seemed a little bit coded and strange."
|2007||On and Off||Skirl|
|2008||Calling All Portraits||Skycap|
|2009||Thin Air||Thirsty Ear|
|2010||Saturn Sings||Firehouse 12|
|2011||Departure of Reason||Thirsty Ear|
|2011||Electric Fruit||Thirsty Ear|
|2012||Bending Bridges||Firehouse 12|
|2012||Mechanical Malfunction||Thirsty Ear|
|2013||Illusionary Sea||Firehouse 12|
|2014||Reverse Blue||Relative Pitch|
|2016||Away With You||Firehouse 12|
|2017||Paimon: Book of Angels Vol. 32||Tzadik|
|2018||Code Girl||Firehouse 12|
|2018||The Maid with the Flaxen Hair||duo with Bill Frisell, Tzadik|
|2004||Trevor Dunn's trio-convulsant||Sister Phantom Owl Fish||Ipecac|
|2005||People (Kyle Forester and Kevin Shea)||People||I & Ear|
|2007||People (Kyle Forester and Kevin Shea)||Misbegotten Man||I & Ear|
|2009||Weasel Walter & Peter Evans||Mystery Meat||ugEXPLODE|
|2010||Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up||Actionspeak||482 Music|
|2011||Weasel Walter & Peter Evans||Electric Fruit||Thirsty Ear|
|2011||Jessica Pavone||Departure of Reason||Thirsty Ear|
|2012||Weasel Walter & Peter Evans||Mechanical Malfunction||Thirsty Ear|
|2014||People (Kyle Forester and Kevin Shea)||3xaWoman: The Misplaced Files||Telegraph Harp|
|2015||Marc Ribot||The Young Philadelphians: Live in Tokyo||Yellowbird|
|2015||Tomeka Reid||Tomeka Reid Quartet||Thirsty Ear|
|2016||Noël Akchoté||Mary Halvorson and Noël Akchoté||Noël Akchoté|
|2018||Robbie Lee||Seed Triangular||New Amsterdam|
|2018||Ingrid Laubrock||Contemporary Chaos Practices||Intakt|
- Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl: European Tour (2018)
- Mary Halvorson Quartet plays John Zorn’s Book of Angels (2018)
- Sylvie Courvoisier & Mary Halvorson: European Tour (2018)
- Mary Halvorson Octet: European Tour (2018)
As side musician
- Tom Rainey Trio US Tour (2017)
- Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up: US Tour (2017)
- Tomeka Reid Quartet: European Tour! (2017)
- Tom Rainey Trio US Tour (2018)
- Tom Rainey Trio US Tour (2018) [separate tour]
- Tomeka Reid Quartet: US mini-tour (2018)
- Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House: European Tour (2018)
- Dave Douglas Uplift: European Tour (2018)
- Thumbscrew European Tour (2017)
- Thumbscrew European Tour (2018)
- Thumbscrew US Record Release Tour (2018)
With Illegal Crowns
- Illegal Crowns European Tour (2017)
- Illegal Crowns European Tour (2018)
- Young Philadelphians Marc Ribot's website
- Mary Halvorson bio on her website
- List of Weasel Walter current projects on nowawe.pair.com
- Mary Halvorson Archived June 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, All About Jazz. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Clean Feed Records and Mary Halvorson: Promises of Good Things to Come in Jazz, Pop Matters. Jazz Today. By Will Layman. February 16, 2011. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Mary Halvorson Archived June 18, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, All About Jazz. By Troy Collins. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- A Sharpened Axe to Grind, Online Wall Street Journal. By Steve Dollar. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- Mary Halvorson's EnchantedWood Archived November 5, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, The Boston Phoenix. By Jon Garelick. p. 1–2. May 31, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- "Wadada Leo Smith, Mary Halvorson Among Winners in DownBeat Critics Poll". DownBeat Magazine. 2017-06-26. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
- Chinen, Nate (2016-10-28). "Mary Halvorson on Guitar: Unflinching and Full of Grace". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
- "Why Mary Halvorson Sounds Like No Other Guitarist". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
- "Reinventing the Avant-Garde | School of Jazz and Contemporary Music". www.newschool.edu. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
- "Mary Halvorson: Reinventing the Identity of the Jazz Guitarist". JazzTimes. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
- "The 2015 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
- "Mary Halvorson Re-Engineered Jazz Guitar. Now, She's Hacking Her Own Code". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
- "Mary Halvorson: Code Girl". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2018-12-13.