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Thumbscrew: Convallaria

Convallaria is the sophomore Cuneiform Records release from the avant-jazz trio known as Thumbscrew, who are comprised of guitarist Mary Halvorson, double bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Featuring 11 tracks filled with daring arrangements and plenty of soloing, Convallaria shows off the compositional & instrumental skills of the band, offering the listener plenty of variety from song to song. Upbeat numbers like "Barn Fire Slum Brew" and "Sampsonian Rhythms" bubble and boil with Formanek's lumbering bass lines and Halvorson's sinewy lead excursions and insistent comps, while "Cleome", "Trigger", and "Screaming Piha" offer darker, menacing tones, featuring avant-garde flavors, bits of free jazz, and brooding atmosphere. With many of the tunes here pushing 5-minutes and beyond, there's plenty of room for the trio to stretch out and explore, like on the complex, almost King Crimson-meets-Gentle Giant styled counterpoint of the title track, the weaving, elastic interplay of "Tail of the Sad Dog", the rumbling "The Cardinal and the Weathervane" (featuring some jagged rock licks from Halvorson), and the adventurous jazz of "Spring Ahead". Big props to Fujiwara, who is charmingly acrobatic throughout Convallaria, but just as impressive when he and Formanek lock into an insane groove and allow Halvorson to blaze with her fiery guitar solos.

These three are stellar musicians, all capable as lead players but it's the ensemble work that really impresses here. If you haven't yet checked out Thumbscrew, Convallaria is a great place to start, a highly addictive and adventurous slice of avant-garde jazz that works on all levels.

Track Listing
1. Cleome (6:15)
2. Barn Fire Slum Brew (7:06)
3. Sampsonian Rhythms (4:04)
4. Trigger (8:26)
5. Screaming Piha (5:50)
6. Convallaria (9:05)
7. Tail of the Sad Dog (7:01)
8. The Cardinal and the Weathervane (5:16)
9. Danse Insensť (5:27)
10. Spring Ahead (8:24)
11. Inevitable (6:10)

Added: May 22nd 2016
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 1698
Language: english

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