Posted by: theatrociousspeller | September 28, 2011

Mary Halvorson, (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb)

First before we get into this, a few links;

That salad eating bastard thought it would be a good idea to stop blogging, as seen by this and his post on Circle Magazine, you see why I am so angry.

A picture post and a few cool links about William Burroughs.

Dr. Lewis Porter gives a look into the development of Louis Armstrong. That is all i’m going to say about that pt. 1 pt. 2

I still get choked up watching this video.

If anyone is going to be in NYC for this, I will trade you my testicle(s) to go with you. No Joke

So, Mary Halvorson. Let me count the ways.

Photo by Amani Willett

My introduction to Mary Halvorson was thanks to Trevor Dunn. I was checking out his other projects (besides Mr. Bungle/etc) and I stumbled onto this group called Trio Convulsant. In the first 4 seconds, I heard a sound that I seriously had wet dreams about afterwards. Its was jagged, lyrical, intense, quiet, firey, super super dry, (no reverb whatsoever) and it had all this weird portamento stuff going on. Ladies and gentleman, the beast from the east: Mary Halvorson.

She had everything I ever wanted. At this time, I was really struggling with the fact that I couldn’t bridge all the music I loved and that I really enjoyed playing due to genre restrictions. I felt like I had to choose “my poison.” This was right before I was going to enroll into Capital University for a Jazz Studies degree in Guitar. I love hxc/grind, noise, jazz, European Art music, improvisatory music, electronic, etc but I felt I needed to comprimise my upbringing and what I had become musically in order to fit in, and become what others call a “real musician.”  I realized as soon as I heard the track Liver Colered Dew, I didn’t have to, and for heaven’s sake I shouldn’t.

As you can see in the interviews i’m posting underneath this blurb, she went to school for music, and just got sick of playing in an academic enviroment, and just went head first into whatever she wanted to do, (noisy/free/whatevs). As she said, this really shaped who she became as a musician. Obviously, hearing her after the fact, it totally changed my perspective on the instrument, and my musicality, specifically with the “what’s good/bad/these are the right notes/etc.” This is one of the reasons why I performed Trevor Dunn’s tune Liver Colored Dew for my junior recital at Capital. This track, and how everyone played with/off each other, the influences of past music and playing on the compostion made me start to realize, I didn’t have to worry about being part of a scene really. I could be part of a fraternity of fellow musicians, and do whatever I wanted. I just need to be honest with myself, and my peers. Saying that, yes, I do play a lot of “straight ahead” gigs, but I don’t feel cornered anymore. I know deep inside I play sound. I know this seems pretty juvenile, but I was having a breakdown before I started my undergrad. It was terrible. So thank you Mary, thank you Trevor, and thank you Ches Smith. If you havent heard her Dragon’s Head, or Saturn Sings record, stop sleeping. I’m hoping to get a lesson with her in December when I visit NYC with a friend, and fellow blogger Aditya Jayanthi. I have transcribed all of her tunes on Dragon’s Head, and I feel kinda weird about it. But jesus christ, they are just that good.

Here are some links to some of my favorite stuff online dealing with Mary Halvorson.


Jazz Session



Ten Questions

At Length


These Arches (Ches Smith’s group)

Trio Convulsant (Trevor Dunn’s group)

Quintet (via Roulette, includes a little interview)

With Weasel Walter, and Peter Evans (This is the Electric Fruit group. Dan DiPiero fell out of a chair listening to this record)

Playing a Christian Marclay composition

13th Ensemble (Taylor Ho Bynum’s group)

Anthony Braxton Septet (this is 1 of 7, if you have time, just check out the whole concert. Will. Not. Disappoint.)

Mary Talks about guitars and stuff  (Follow the links for the other parts)


Her website

Her blog

And this is just the beginning.




  1. I do love me some salads.

  2. Anyway, I changed my mind.
    P.S. This is like a definitive Halvorson resource.

  3. Dan, you melt me like american cheese.

  4. […] Aaron has posted a definitive guide to discovering Mary Halvorson. […]

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