San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
Night 2 of 4 nights residency.
Mary Halvorson - guitar
Michael Formanek - bass
Tomas Fujiwara - drums
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. Thumbscrew’s debut CD was released on Cuneiform Records in January 2014.
“This is cutting edge contemporary music built on compositional depth and improvisational expertise with a strong, cohesive core. Call it fluid iron: powerful, yet flexible in its outlook, capable of an electrifying impact.”
Guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson has been called “NYC’s least-predictable improviser” (Howard Mandel, City Arts), “the most forward-thinking guitarist working right now” (Lars Gotrich, NPR.org) and “one of today’s most formidable bandleaders” (Francis Davis, Village Voice). In addition to her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert 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 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-five 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, Fred Hersch, Dave Liebman, Joe Henderson, Dave Burrell, Joe Lovano, and many others. In 2010 Michael Formanek’s first CD as a leader and composer in more than a decade was released on the ECM label. The Rub and Spare Change features the amazing group of Tim Berne on saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano, and Gerald Cleaver on drums, and Formanek on bass, and has received numerous accolades including Five Stars in Down Beat Magazine, and a place on many best CD’s of 2010 lists. His second CD for ECM, Small Places was released in 2012, and has also achieved much critical acclaim including another Five Star Downbeat review.
Drummer Tomas Fujiwara “works with rhythm as a pliable substance, solid but ever shifting. He has a way of spreading out the center of a pulse while setting up a rigorous scaffolding of restraint…smartly informed and firmly moored” (Nate Chinen, The New York Times). Tomas currently leads and composes for his quintet, Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up (Actionspeak and The Air is Different on 482 Music), the Tomas Fujiwara Trio with Ralph Alessi and Brandon Seabrook, his duo with Taylor Ho Bynum, and the collective ensemble Instant Strangers with Tim Berne, Mary Halvorson, and Stephan Crump. He is also a member of the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet, Matana Roberts’ Coin Coin, Red Baraat, Ideal Bread, Matt Bauder’s Day In Pictures, and Mike Reed’s Living by Lanterns.