Jazz In the Bay

The best live jazz in San Francisco Bay Area

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Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl

  • SFJAZZ Joe Henderson Lab 201 Franklin Street San Francisco, CA, 94102 United States (map)

Halvorson’s latest ensemble expands on the Thumbscrew trio of bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara with the addition of trumpeter Adam O’Farrill and vocalist Amirtha Kidambi. Named for a phrase uttered by Halvorson’s mentor Anthony Braxton, Code Girl represents Halvorson’s songwriter side, with several pieces featuring her lyrics. An artist whose range of experience includes both Hindi devotional music and free jazz improvisation, Kidambi brings a surefooted power and intimacy to the music, matched by the freewheeling trumpet of O’Farrill, whose fluency presents new harmonic and melodic possibilities. The band, with trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire in place of O’Farrill, recently released their self-titled debut double-album.

All About Jazz describes Halvorson as “the most impressive guitarist of her generation.” Blending masterful technique with a stylistic range encompassing the avant-garde, folk, psychedelia, and flamenco, Halvorson has established an estimable career as a bandleader, leading over 20 albums and fronting the Mary Halvorson Trio, the Mary Halvorson Octet, her solo project Meltframe, and her latest ensemble Code Girl.

Formanek is among the finest bassists on the scene, and a veteran of work with Tony Williams, Joe Henderson, Fred Hersch, and Stan Getz. He leads his own superlative quartet including Tim Berne, pianist Craig Taborn, and drummer Gerald Cleaver, and his latest album is the 2018 ECM release Time Like This, with his new Elusion Quartet.

With “a conception of the drum set as a full-canvas instrument, almost orchestral in its scope” (The New York Times), Tomas Fujiwara is a drummer of rare power and subtlety, leading numerous ensembles including The Hook Up, 7 Poets Trio, and Triple Double, whose 2017 debut made Best-of-Year lists from NPR and The Village Voice. His résumé includes work with Red Baraat, Anthony Braxton, Taylor Ho Bynum, John Zorn, and others.

Mary Halvorson
Adam O'Farrill trumpet
Michael Formanek bass
Tomas Fujiwara drums
Amirtha Kidambi vocals

Plenty of the improvisational intensity that fans of modern jazz have come to expect from a Halvorson project.
— Pitchfork
Clearly the work of an unpredictable mind, and a personality drawn at once to unruly possibility and fastidious detail.
Earlier Event: July 21
Shay Salhov Quartet
Later Event: July 23
Smith Dobson: Jam Session