Thumbscrew – Theirs (2018)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 45:57 minutes | 556 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Booklet, Front Cover | © Cuneiform Records
“Made up of three highly distinctive voices in the world of jazz and avant-garde music, Thumbscrew should probably collapse under the weight of its own star power but Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Mary Halvorson (electric guitar) and Michael Formanek (acoustic bass) are just too aware of the potential of this supertrio to let that happen.” – S. Victor Aaron, Something Else!
Thumbscrew demonstrates their unique collective musical vision in contrasting but complementary ways on two exciting new CDs. Ours and Theirs are the first to be released on a newly revamped Cuneiform Records, just returning from a hiatus. Comprised of longtime collaborators Michael Formanek, Tomas Fujiwara, and Mary Halvorson, Thumbscrew is a true collaborative effort with all three members contributing at an equal rate both in terms of composition and improvisation.
Born out of a residency at Pittsburgh’s City of Asylum where Thumbscrew created their striking second album Convallaria, Ours and Theirs showcase Thumbscrew in two different contexts performing all originals on Ours and all covers on Theirs. Both albums present a meticulous and intuitive original sound that could only be crafted during focused and intensive time as a collective in a place like City of Asylum. “When we arrived at City of Asylum for our second residency in June 2017, we immediately said, ’we’re home!’” says Fujiwara, “The feelings we get when being at City of Asylum, around the people that make it such a unique place doing great work…All of this contributes to a creative process that’s open and inclusive and experimental.”
Tomas, Michael, and Mary are no strangers to each other’s work, having performed in a multitude of projects together, including Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus, Tomas Fujiwara and the Hook Up’s After All is Said, and most recently, in Mary Halvorson’s critically-acclaimed Code Girl.
Theirs features covers penned by venerable composers, from North American jazz legends Benny Golson and Wayne Shorter, to South American composers Julio De Caro (Argentina) and Jacob Do Bandolim (Brazil), to songwriter Evelyn Danzig and Dutch avant-gardist Misha Mengelberg. Thumbscrew covers considerable ground in bringing their unique arrangements and ensemble sensibility to this transfixing set of other composers’ music. On the selection of covers, Fujiwara says, “Each of us brought in a number of covers–more than double what we ended up releasing–that we were curious for Thumbscrew to try. We played through each composition many times, trying different arrangements, and slowly started to focus in on which ones felt right for the group.” Formanek states that “for me it was mostly a matter of which tunes I thought would have strong enough bones to sustain a Thumbscrew interpretation. It was also a matter of imagining how certain pieces would work with Mary, Tomas, and my approaches that wouldn’t sound like just another version.”
On the contrast between the two records, Halvorson says, “The difference is that with the covers we’re aware of trying to honor the composer’s vision, and in many cases, classic versions of the song which serve as inspirations.”
1. Stablemates (Benny Golson) 03:42
2. Benzinho (Jacob Do Bandolim) 03:27
3. House Party Starting (Herbie Nichols) 06:05
4. The Peacocks (Jimmy Rowles) 06:53
5. East of the Sun (Brooks Bowman) 03:21
6. Scarlet Ribbons (For Her Hair) (Evelyn Danzig) 04:34
7. Buen Amigo (Julio De Caro) 02:50
8. Dance Cadaverous (Wayne Shorter) 06:19
9. Effi (Stanley Cowell) 04:34
10. Weer is een dag voorbij (Misha Mengelberg) 04:12
Michael Formanek – bass
Tomas Fujiwara – drums
Mary Halvorson – guitar