2017 FORT ADAMS LINEUP
SATURDAY AUGUST 4, 2018
Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl
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). Ms. Halvorson is best known for her longstanding trio, featuring bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith, and more recently for her solo guitar project, Meltframe. She has several other projects as a bandleader including a quintet, septet and octet. Collaborative projects include a chamber-jazz duo with violist Jessica Pavone, the avant-rock band People and the collective ensembles Thumbscrew (with Michael Formanek and Tomas Fujiwara) and Secret Keeper (with Stephan Crump). Ms. Halvorson is also an active member of bands led by Anthony Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, Trevor Dunn, Tomas Fujiwara, Ingrid Laubrock, Joe Morris, Tom Rainey, Mike Reed and Marc Ribot, among others.
Amirtha Kidambi is a vocalist, composer and improviser, playing in groups including the Early Music inspired dark folk band Seaven Teares, the analog percussion and light ensemble Ashcan Orchestra, and Darius Jones’ vocal quartet Elizabeth-Caroline Unit. As an improviser and collaborator, she has played with Matana Roberts, Daniel Carter, Darius Jones, Trevor Dunn, Jaimie Branch, Brandon Lopez, and many innovators in the New York scene. Recent projects and upcoming collaborations include the premiere of AACM founder and legendary composer/pianist Muhal Richard Abrams’ Dialogue Social, Darius Jones’ The Oversoul Manual at Carnegie Hall, a premiere of electronic composer Ben Vida’s work Slipping Control for voice and electronics with Tyondai Braxton at the Borderline Festival in Athens, Greece, the premiere of the late Robert Ashley’s final opera CRASH, and a commission from the Jerome Foundation for her own quartet Elder Ones (Matt Nelson, Brandon Lopez, Max Jaffe) at Roulette, followed by a residency at EMPAC to record the group’s debut album, with a November 2016 release planned. Amirtha is a 2016-2017 Asian Cultural Council Fellow, and will travel to India for intensive study in Carnatic vocal music.
Born and raised in Oakland, California, Ambrose Akinmusire (pronounced ah-kin-MOO-sir-ee) was a member of the Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble when he caught the attention of saxophonist Steve Coleman. Akinmusire was asked to join Coleman’s Five Elements, embarking on a European tour when he was just a 19-year-old student at the Manhattan School of Music. After returning to the West Coast to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Southern California, Akinmusire went on to attend the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in Los Angeles, where he studied with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Terence Blanchard. In 2007 Akinmusire won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, decided by a panel of judges that included Blanchard, Quincy Jones, Herb Alpert, Hugh Masekela, Clark Terry and Roy Hargrove. That year Akinmusire also won the Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition and released his debut album Prelude…To Cora on the Fresh Sound label. He moved back to New York and began performing with the likes of Vijay Iyer, Aaron Parks, Esperanza Spalding and Jason Moran. Akinmusire’s Blue Note debut When The Heart Emerges Glistening was released in 2011 to rave reviews. The Los Angeles Times praised his “chameleonic tone that can sigh, flutter or soar,” adding that “Akinmusire sounds less like a rising star than one that was already at great heights and just waiting to be discovered.” DownBeat described his playing as “spectacular and not at all shy — muscular, driving, with a forward sound, pliant phrasing and a penchant for intervallic leaps,” concluding that “clearly something very special and personal is at work here, a vision of jazz that’s bigger than camps, broader and more intellectually restless than blowing sessions.”
One marker of bassist Michael Formanek‘s creativity and versatility is the range of distinguished musicians of several generations he’s worked with. While still a teenager in the 1970s he toured with drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Joe Henderson; starting in the ’80s he played long stints with Stan Getz, Gerry Mulligan, Fred Hersch and Freddie Hubbard. The bassist has played a pivotal role on New York’s creative jazz scene going back to the ’90s when he notably led his own quintet and played in Tim Berne’s barnstorming quartet Bloodcount. Nowadays Formanek’s in the co-op Thumbscrew with Brooklyn guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Formanek is also a composer and leader of various bands. His principal recording and international touring vehicle is his acclaimed quartet with Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Craig Taborn on piano and Gerald Cleaver on drums, which records for ECM; 2010’s The Rub and Spare Change and 2012’s Small Places both earned coveted five-star raves in Down Beat. Formanek writes, and the quartet plays, compositions of great rhythmic sophistication that unfold in a natural sounding way – challenging music the players make sound like lyrical free expression. His occasional groups include the 18-piece all-star Ensemble Kolossus, roping in many New York improvisers he works with. Ensemble Kolossus recorded their first CD of all Formanek originals, The Distance, for the prestigious ECM label that was released in February of 2016, and received a Five Star review in Downbeat.
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 with Jonathan Finlayson, Brian Settles, Mary Halvorson, and Michael Formanek (Actionspeak, The Air is Different, and After All Is Said on 482 Music), the Tomas Fujiwara Trio with Ralph Alessi and Brandon Seabrook (Variable Bets on Relative Pitch Records), Thumbscrew with Halvorson and Formanek (Thumbscrew and Convallaria on Cuneiform Records), and his duo with Taylor Ho Bynum (True Events on 482 Music, Stepwise on Nottwo Records, and the self-released Through Foundation). He is also a member of the Taylor Ho Bynum Sextet, Matana Roberts’ Coin Coin, The Tomeka Reid Quartet, Mike Reed’s Living by Lanterns, Mary Halvorson’s Reverse Blue, and Michael Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus.