The members of Thumbscrew are nonpareil instrumentalists. Drummer Tomas Fujiwara easily balances ornamentation and propulsion at any speed; double bassist Michael Formanek plays with a woody tone whose bulk belies his ability to invest each note with its own expressive inflection; and guitarist Mary Halvorson employs fluid phrasing and adroit manipulation of delay effects that […]
No one else plays the pedal steel guitar like Susan Alcorn. She combines a command of the instrument’s orchestral range with an improvisational fluency that lets her take the instrument far beyond its usual idiomatic settings. She began playing professionally in Chicago country bars in the mid-1970s, then went on to hone her chops in […]
You don’t get a MacArthur “genius” grant just for thinking big; you get one because your big ideas work extraordinarily well. Mary Halvorson, who was awarded the grant last year, has earned hers by moving from strength to strength. Ever since she began recording in the mid-2000s, she’s projected a strikingly personal voice on the […]
Composer, multi-instrumentalist, educator, and conceptualist Anthony Braxton was born in Chicago on June 4, 1945, and the celebration of his 75th birthday has taken a major hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. At least nine 2020 events have been cancelled so far—the only live performance that hasn’t yet been stricken from the calendar for this year […]
Since trumpeter Russ Johnson moved to Milwaukee in 2011—and thanks to his comfort with the 90-minute commute to Chicago—the local jazz and improvised music scene has been injected with a brash yet thoughtful presence and an aesthetic that connects postbop fundamentals with freedom-seeking impulses. Another benefit has been Johnson’s vast network of collaborators from New […]
The trio of guitarist Mary Halvorson, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara releases its debut album.
The best shows to see through Sunday include Disclosure, Michael Formanek, Those Darlins, and Melt-Banana.
Veteran bassist Michael Formanek is operating at full speed again