Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mary Halvorson @ Blue Note 2/11/11

Yes, I was still revved up from The Vanguard. I got there right before it started. It was an excellent improvising quartet. I loved it. The only problem was I hadn't been home from work yet and I had been drinking at the last 2 venues - I had trouble staying awake. Toward the end, I noticed a lot of people either dozing or fighting off sleep in the audience. I think the set was about 90 min. It was a Search and Restore gig so it was documented.

Mary Halvorson, guitar
Chris Speed, saxophones
Eivind Opsvik, bass
Tomas Fujiwara, drums
Spontaneous Construction Presented by Search & Restore is a series based on jazz's most important and distinctive element: improvisation. For each Friday night at 12:30am, ensembles are created from a pool of musicians ranging from up-and-coming to legendary, hand-picked to perform as a group for the first time. No rules or boundaries exist - the artists are free to create music on the spot as they see fit. After 30 years as one of the finest jazz club's in the world, the Spontaneous Construction Series brings back the feel of the old Blue Note Late Night Jam Sessions, but with a new and forward-thinking concept.



Guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson has been active in New York since 2002, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. Critics have called Ms. Halvorson “NYC’s least-predictable improviser” (Howard Mandel, City Arts), “the most forward-thinking guitarist working right now” (Lars Gotrich, and “one of today’s most formidable bandleaders” (Francis Davis, Village Voice). In addition to her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John H├ębert and drummer Ches Smith, and her quintet, which adds trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, Ms. Halvorson also co-leads a chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Crackleknob, MAP and The Thirteenth Assembly.


Chris Speed is a composer, clarinetist and saxophonist living in Brooklyn, NY. His bands include Human Feel, yeah NO, Trio Iffy , Pachora and The Clarinets. He is a member of Jim Black’s Alas No Axis and John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet.
Speed was born in Seattle in 1967 and graduated from the New England Conservatory in 1990. In 1992 he moved to NYC where he joined Tim Berne’s Bloodcount. Throughout the nineties Speed worked with many pioneering bands in the creative new music/downtown scene including the Dave Douglas Sextet, Myra Melford’s Same River Twice, Erik Freidlander’s Chimera, John Zorn’s Bar Kokhba and Mark Dresser’s trio with Anthony Coleman. Speed is considered one of the leading NYC musicians linking jazz and creative improvisation with Eastern European and Middle Eastern folk music. Currently, he works with Uri Caine’s Bach, Mahler, and Mozart projects, as well as Ben Perowsky’s quartet. Chris was named the rising star clarinetist in Downbeat magazine for 2004 and 2005.


Eivind Opsvik is a Norwegian musician who’s been living in New York for over 10 years. His main instrument is the upright bass, but he also loves experimenting with recording, playing lap steel guitar, old organs and drums, composing music and running a record label. His main projects are Overseas, Opsvik & Jennings and his solo project. Overseas was formed in 2002 and features Jacob Sacks on piano and organ, Tony Malaby on tenor saxophone, Kenny Wollesen on drums and recent addition, Brandon Seabrook on guitar. Three records have been released; Overseas (2003), Overseas II (2005) and Overseas III (2008). Overseas IV will be recorded in 2011 and released on Loyal Label Opsvik & Jennings, the experimental pop duo with tunesmith and guitarist Aaron Jennings, recently released their third album on CD and Vinyl; “A Dream I Used to Remember” (Loyal Label). Eivind is also involved in other groups, including Sacks/Maneri/Motian/Opsvik, Kornstad/Opsvik, Tony Malaby's Paloma Recio, The UP, Nate Wooley Quintet, and Jeff Davis Band, among others.


Tomas Fujiwara was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He has worked as a leader of and composer for various ensembles, as a sideman, as a composer for theatre, film, and dance, and as a teacher and clinician. With “a quiet energy that propels” (All About Jazz) and a style that is “both volatile and watchful” (New York Times), Tomas' “alert drumming has propelled some excellent ensembles on the new-music landscape” (New York Times). He has performed with Anthony Braxton, Arnie Lawrence, Joe Chambers, Norah Jones, Ravi Coltrane, Herbie Mann, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Mike Longo, Jimmy Greene, Joe Morris, Roy Campbell, William Parker, Burnt Sugar, Vernon Reid, Butch Morris, David Murray, Warren Smith, Irene Aebi, Kwaku Kwakye Obeng, Nicole Mitchell, and Vijay Iyer.


Search & Restore is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to uniting and developing the audience for new jazz music. Founded by Adam Schatz in 2007, S&R does anything and everything to spread the incredible music being made in New York City at this very moment, driven by creative melodic approach and incredible improvisers, through concert presentation (including the Winter Jazzfest & Undead Jazzfest) and web development ( In December, they successfully raised $75,000 through Kickstarter to spend 2011 filming over 200 concerts throughout the city and building artist pages for every musician filmed, creating the first content-based site to focus on new jazz, and a true point of discovery for new and current fans alike. So….get ready for that.

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