“Everyone plays the guitar . It’s a great instrument to play because it is not genre-specific, it can be heard in context from classical to folk, to jazz, to rock, and beyond. One’s options are wide open when playing the guitar, which has been crucial in my search for creative self-expression because I don’t feel locked in one genre. It is also a challenge: how do you say something that millions of other people aren’t saying?”
Mary Halvorson, “State of the Axe”, Ralph Gibson, pag.118
After several years of intense and honored career Mary Halvorson realizes her first solo record dedicated only and exclusively to her guitar. I could say “finally” because for a long time I hoped that Halvorson would confront herself in a struggle like that. Talented guitarist, characterized by a very personal approach to the instrument and to its increasing use in different contexts, both improvisation and composition, well… I was secure that Mary Halvorson would be able to make listen to something really interesting and new. As often happens in these cases patience has been richly rewarded, her latest recording effort is an excellent job in every way. No wonder that the Halvorson has preferred however to compete with compositions and standards signed by other musicians, all 10 songs recorded here do not belong to her, but are the prerogative of musicians such as Oliver Nelson, Annette Peacock, Noel Akchoté, Ornette Coleman, Duke Ellington , Carla Bley, McCoy Tyner, Chris Lightcap, Tomas Fujiwara and Roscoe Mitchell. In the past, other guitarists had preferred to experiment with songs of other people, as it is in the tradition of jazz and also Halvorson provides to pays her tribute to standards like Coleman’s Sadness and Solitude by Duke Ellington, while other songs are not so famous and less played. This did not surprise me so much, what fascinates me listening to cd, it is her ability to regenerate and re-reading of each of the songs from her reinterpreted. In a recent interview on the PremierGuitar Halvorson, as generations of jazz musicians before her, has confirmed that she has played and continues to play standards to improve her ability about harmonics. But here we go over. I have often wondered about the different way a jazz musician and a classical musician can play the same song. Leaving aside unnecessary controversy about who can perform better (if this possibility always exists) what has always struck me about jazz players was their ability to metabolize and hybridize the music each time transforming it into something new. The operation carried out by the reinterpretation Halvorson goes beyond a “simple” interpretation: the musical material here is reworked, filtered, dismantled and rebuilt generating something new that is something more than a “simple” personal reading or a “simple” point of view. In this sense, I read her notes written on the photo book by Ralph Gibson, along with other guitarists, “State of the Axe.” I believe that, as in the book, even to this record, the concept of “creative self-expression” is the cornerstone of this work. A record that maybe will not get all of his listeners but I think that requires more than a few honest and sincere listenings. Mary Halvorson is a particular guitarist and maybe you could not like her, but I do not think it is right to liquidate her hastily: her visions, her musical structures are curious, fascinating and above all never dull or repetitive, as her use of guitar, the distortion , or the possibilities offered by electronic effects. Very personal, yes, this is definitely it, but I do not think this is a flaw!
“With Meltframe, Mary Halvorson not only establishes a privileged place in the recent history of music for solo guitar; she also continues to make clear that she is an artist with the vision to imagine nw worlds, and with the courage and genius to built them.”
Sergio Piccirilli from the notes inside the Meltframe cd.