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Guitarist and composer Mary Halvorson has been described as “a singular talent” (Lloyd Sachs, JazzTimes), ”NYC’s least-predictable improviser” (Howard Mandel, City Arts), “one of the most original jazz guitarists of our time” (Peter Margasak, Bandcamp Daily), and “one of today’s most formidable bandleaders” (Francis Davis, Village Voice). In recent Downbeat Critics Polls Halvorson has been celebrated as guitarist, rising star jazz artist, and rising star composer of the year, and in 2019 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.


Halvorson’s most recent release, Cloudward (Nonesuch Records, 2024), features her Amaryllis sextet, with Adam O’Farrill (trumpet), Jacob Garchik (trombone), Patricia Brennan (vibraphone), Nick Dunston (bass) and Tomas Fujiwara (drums), along with special guest Laurie Anderson (violin) on one track.  In a 9/10 review by PopMatters’ Chris Ingalls, the album was described as “a shimmering, deeply satisfying example of a jazz sextet firing on all cylinders. Prepare to be astonished.”


Prior to Cloudward, Halvorson released a pair of albums in May 2022, Amaryllis and Belladonna. The albums, which marked her debut for Nonesuch Records, showcase her string quartet writing deftly interpreted by The Mivos Quartet, alongside the Amaryllis sextet. The twin albums were called “ landmarks in Halvorson’s already inimitable discography” in a five star review by The Guardian. Amaryllis and Belladonna were also named Jazz Album of the Year in the 2022 Downbeat Critics Poll, and Amaryllis was #1 that year in the Annual Francis Davis Jazz Poll.


Halvorson has also released a series of critically acclaimed albums as a leader on the Firehouse 12 label, from Dragon’s Head (2008), her trio debut featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith, expanding to a quintet with trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon on Saturn Sings (2010) and Bending Bridges (2012), a septet with tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and trombonist Jacob Garchik on Illusionary Sea (2014), and an octet with pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn on Away With You (2016). Also for Firehouse 12, she released the solo guitar album Meltframe (2015), plus two albums with her band Code Girl (2018, 2020), featuring Halvorson’s own lyrics.


One of New York City’s most in-demand guitarists, over the past two decades Halvorson has worked with such diverse musicians as Tim Berne, Anthony Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, John Dieterich, Trevor Dunn, Bill Frisell, Ingrid Laubrock, Myra Melford, Jason Moran, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey, Jessica Pavone, Tomeka Reid, Marc Ribot, Ches Smith and John Zorn. She is also part of several collaborative projects, most notably the longstanding trio Thumbscrew with Michael Formanek on bass and Tomas Fujiwara on drums.

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(c) Amy Touchette

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