Jazz Guitarist Halvorson ’02 Is “Unflinching and Full of Grace”

Credit Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times

Mary Halvonson ’02 has released her eight album, Away With You, reviewed in the New York Times by Nate Chinen. (Photo by Jacob Blickenstaff for The New York Times)

“There’s no other sound in music precisely like Mary Halvorson’s guitar, which she plays with a flinty attack, a spidery finesse and a shiver of wobbly delay,” writes New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen in a review of her recent shows around Brooklyn in October. She also released her eighth album, Away With Youon Oct.28.

The album is produced by Firehouse 12, a production studio co-founded by fellow jazz musician Taylor Ho Bynum ’98 MA ’05, which has released his work, as well as the music of Halvorson’s and Bynum’s Wesleyan professor and mentor Anthony Braxton, whom Chinen calls “a formative influence as a musical thinker” for Halvorson. Chinen also notes another mentor Halvorson found in Connecticut: acclaimed free-jazz guitarist Joe Morris, “a staunch experimentalist,” with whom Halvorson took private lessons. (Morris is spouse of Anne Marcotty, senior designer in Wesleyan’s Office of Communications.)

Calling her new CD “the most accomplished statement Ms. Halvorson has made as a composer, her strongest turn as bandleader and a standout jazz release of the year,” Chinen notes that she is part of a “vibrant cohort,” and performs on cornetist Bynum’s most recent album, Enter the PlusTet, among other musical collaborations.

The article is both review and interview and part of Times‘ The New Vanguard series, which “examine[s] jazz musicians who are helping reshape the art form, often beyond the glare of the spotlight.” Concluding the interview, Chinen asks Halvorson “whether she had noticed her sound among any imitators …’Actually no, I don’t think so. I can’t think of a time when I heard someone and thought, ‘Oh, that sounds like what I’m doing.’ After a pause, she added: ‘Maybe that will happen. I don’t know.'”