THIS REVIEW HAS ALSO BEEN WRONGLY POSTED BY AMAZON FOR THE ALBUM "OURS" ALSO JUST RELEASED BY THUMBSCREW. THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE ALBUM "THEIRS", A SET OF COVER TUNES BY THUMBSCREW. I HAD SEPARATE REVIEWS READY FOR POSTING FOR EACH ALBUM ON RELEASE DAY, BUT THE "OURS" REVIEW IS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. GET WITH IT AMAZON!!
Fans of Thumbscrew (Mary Halvorson-guitar, Tomas Fujiwara-drums, Michael Formanek-double bass) will be excited to hear a new set of music from this fine trio. But this set is a bit different from the group's other recordings--it's a set of cover tunes--that's right--not an original tune in sight. But anyone familiar with this trio will know that this album isn't full of just typical variations of the original songs. While the basic melodies are here, the trio approaches each song in their own idiosyncratic way.
The tunes are from well known jazz artists Benny Golson, Herbie Nichols (hear his Blue Note trio recordings), Wayne Shorter, Stanley Cowell, Jimmy Rowles, and others like Misha Mengelberg, Evelyn Danzig, Brooks Bowman, and Jacob Do Bandolim. This album is about as close as Halvorson/Thumbscrew get to something like straight ahead jazz--by sticking to the basic melody of each tune which anchors what the trio does. Halvorson is one of the best post post modern guitarists playing today and her band mates are equally fine players. And their long time association helps bring a new slant to these songs.
Listen to "Benzinho" or "House Party Starting" for a look at how the trio straddles the line between their own usual style of music and the original tune. But even with a traditional sounding rhythm section, Halvorson gets in her patented sound that gives these tunes a fresh sound. Rowles' "The Peacocks" is a restrained, beautiful version of this fine composition--listen to the brush work by Fujiwara, the open bass work, and the guitar work which is actually quite emotive and thoughtfully played. "East Of The Sun" is closer to the trio's normal sound and approach, with a fuller, busier sound from the trio. "Buen Amigo" is another tune played close to the original melody but with both Halvorson and Formanek injecting their own sound to good this good little tune. Shorter's "Dance Cadaverous" is suitably open and almost pensive sounding (typical of the introspective self-effacing Shorter's tunes) but gives the group a chance to put their own stamp on this song with space between the notes--listen to the drums open yet pushing sound all through this song--with Halvorson getting in a lot of subtle licks with Formanek's warm double bass filling in nicely.
This album is one of two released simultaneously--the other album, titled "Ours"--is a set of trio originals (hence the album titles)--recorded during the same sessions. This album is wonderfully recorded--clean with a non-sterile warmth (hear the bass) which accents the music. The disc snaps into a tray inside the cardboard wallet style holder. There's no notes, just song titles, and recording information. But no notes are needed--the music and performances can stand on their own.