Mary Halvorson Octet

Away With You
(Firehouse 12 Records)

love Mary Halvorson in this setting. This is art music on a large scale. Halvorson’s compositions and arrangements take twists and turns that you don’t expect, leaving you to wonder how on earth she’ll make them work. She always does. After all, Halvorson is masterful in turning the ordinary into something amazing and new. On Away With You, the 36–year–old guitarist assembles an all–star cast of the avant–garde scene, including Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet, Jon Irabagon on alto saxophone, Ingrid Laubrock on tenor, Jacob Garchik on trombone, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar, John Hébert on bass and Ches Smith on drums. It’s a cast of leaders who all chip in to do incredible ensemble work. “Spirit Splitter (No. 54)” is a mind–bender. The title track, “Away With You (No. 55),” is a surf–pop tune from an alternate universe. “The Absolute Almost (No. 52)” takes a slow–flame approach to the inner soul. “Old King Misfit (No. 57)” displays Hébert’s mastery on bass. “Safety Orange (No. 59)” is anything but safe, a majestic piece of magic with some wonderful arranging. And “Inky Ribbons (No. 53)” closes this eight–track set with a slow pulse and laid–back groove that brings the album to a perfect close. Halvorson has become a critic’s favorite in creative music for very good reason. She’s a fine guitarist, a thoughtful musician and a far–reaching artist.