2018 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.
Tomas Fujiwara is a Brooklyn-based drummer and composer. Described as “a ubiquitous presence in the New York scene…an artist whose urbane writing is equal to his impressively nuanced drumming” (Troy Collins, Point of Departure), Tomas is an active player in some of the most exciting music of the current generation, with his bands Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up, The Tomas Fujiwara Trio, and his newest project Triple Double (with Ralph Alessi, Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson, Brandon Seabrook, and Gerald Cleaver), who’s debut was on Best-of-2017 lists by NPR, The Village Voice, and All About Jazz among others; his collaborative duo with Bynum; the collective trio Thumbscrew (with Halvorson and Michael Formanek); and a diversity of creative work with Anthony Braxton, Matana Roberts, Joe Morris, Nicole Mitchell, Ben Goldberg, Tomeka Reid, Amir ElSaffar, and Benoit Delbecq. In The New York Times, Nate Chinen writes, “Drummer Tomas Fujiwara works with rhythm as a pliable substance, solid but ever shifting. His style is forward-driving but rarely blunt or aggressive, and never random. He has a way of spreading out the center of a pulse while setting up a rigorous scaffolding of restraint…A conception of the drum set as a full-canvas instrument, almost orchestral in its scope.”