photo by Peter Gannushkin
- $30 Assigned Rows 1-2
- $20 Assigned Rows 3-5
- $15 General Admission
- $5 Student
- Mary Halvorson, guitar
- Michael Formanek, bass
- Tomas Fujiwara, drums
“Thumbscrew is a very exciting group that highlights intricate and emotionally-driven compositions focused on intense interactions between instruments. One of the most exciting bands currently playing” — Cisco Bradley, jazzrightnow.com
The trio Thumbscrew came about by accident, after bassist Michael Formanek subbed in a band including guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Something special happened among them right away, so they formed a trio, a co-operative in the truest sense. They play originals by all hands, compositions whose rhythms may surge or lag or veer sideways according to their own internal logic. Bass and drums solo within the ensemble, not in quarantine. No one needs to be loudest. The blend is tight: one string (or metal) sound may bleed into another. It’s something to hear—something twisty and turny and always on the move.
One of improvised music’s most in-demand guitarists, Mary Halvorson has been active in New York since 2002, following jazz studies at Wesleyan University and the New School. Critics have called her “a singular talent” (Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes), ”NYC’s least-predictable improviser” (Howard Mandel, City Arts), “one of the most exciting and original guitarists in jazz—or otherwise” (Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal), and “one of today’s most formidable bandleaders” (Francis Davis, Village Voice). The Philadelphia City Paper‘s Shaun Brady adds, “Halvorson has been steadily reshaping the sound of jazz guitar in recent years with her elastic, sometimes-fluid, sometimes-shredding, wholly unique style.”
After three years of study with visionary composer and saxophonist Anthony Braxton, Ms. Halvorson became an active member of several of his bands, including his trio, septet and 12+1tet. To date, she appears on six of Mr. Braxton’s recordings. Ms. Halvorson has also performed alongside iconic guitarist Marc Ribot, in his band Sun Ship (a quartet performing the music of John Coltrane), and with the bassist Trevor Dunn in his Trio-Convulsant. Over the past decade she has worked with such diverse bandleaders as Tim Berne, Taylor Ho Bynum, Tomas Fujiwara, Curtis Hasselbring, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey and Mike Reed.
As a bandleader and composer, one of Ms. Halvorson’s primary outlets is her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Since their 2008 debut album, Dragon’s Head, the band has been recognized as a rising star jazz band by Downbeat Magazine for five consecutive years. Ms. Halvorson’s quintet, which adds trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon to the trio, has released two critically acclaimed albums on the Firehouse 12 label: Saturn Sings and Bending Bridges. Most recently she has added two additional band members—tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and trombonist Jacob Garchik—to form a septet, featured on her 2013 release Illusionary Sea. Ms. Halvorson also co-leads a longstanding chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Thumbscrew and Secret Keeper.
Michael Formanek's singular approach to the acoustic bass has led to an impressive range of musical associations. During his thirty-plus year career, he has played and/or recorded with Elvis Costello, Tim Berne, Uri Caine, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, Marty Ehrlich, Chet Baker, Tony Williams, Gerry Mulligan, Bob Mintzer, Fred Hersch, Dave Liebman, Joe Henderson, Mark Isham, Toshiko Akiyoshi/Lew Tabackin Big Band, Mingus Big Band, Terumasa Hino, Cedar Walton, Attila Zoller, George Coleman, Jane Ira Bloom, Bob Moses, Gunther Schuller, Peter Erskine, Joe and Matt Maneri, Gary Thomas, Harold Danko, Dave Burrell, Joe Lovano, and many others.
Tomas Fujiwara was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of seven, he fell in love with music while listening to the classic drum battle record, Rich vs. Roach. After two years of studies with Joyce Kauffman, Tomas began an eight-year course of study with legendary drummer and educator Alan Dawson. 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). His current projects include: Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up, Taylor Ho Bynum / Tomas Fujiwara Duo (True Events, 482 Music, 2007, upcoming release on Nottwo Records), The Thirteenth Assembly ((un)sentimental, Important Records, 2009), Taylor Ho Bynum Trio and Sextet (The Middle Picture, Firehouse 12, 2007, Asphalt Flowers Forking Paths, hatOLOGY, 2008, and Double Trio with the Stephen Haynes Trio, Engine Records, 2009), Matana Roberts’ Mississippi Moonchile, Coin Coin, and Quartet (The Calling, Utech, 2006), Ideal Bread (Ideal Bread, KMB Jazz, 2008), The Throes (The Throes, CIMP, 2009), Matt Bauder’s Day In Pictures, Positive Catastrophe (Garabatos Volume 1, Cuneiform Records, 2009), Red Baraat, Soo’s Collage (Soo’s Collage, Audioguy, 2006), Matt Welch’s Blarvuster, Exegesis, and Aji No Moto.