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Mary Halvorson and the art of intuition

Mary Halvorson, who brings her ensemble Reverse Blue to the Albright-Knox Art of Jazz series on Jan. 29, studied with master saxophonist, educator and music-philosopher Anthony Braxton. Which explains a lot.

Braxton is the man behind “The Tri-Axium Writings,” a collection of on-point intellectual musings which, according to his web site’s explanation,  posits the notion that “creative thinking cannot be reduced to dichotomies, but must embrace multiple perspectives,” among them the understanding that “music is not only composed or improvised, but also includes intuition.”

You can hear the influence of such a musical metaphysics in Halvorson’s guitar playing, which has been widely hailed as among the most adventurous and genre-bursting sounds to have emerged from the jazz sub-culture over the past 15 years.

Described by the New York Times as “unflinching and full of grace,” Halvorson has relentlessly pursued the outer reaches of the avant-garde, while simultaneously offering consonant, song-based motifs.

“When I first heard about Mary, I called around to everyone I knew in that new jazz scene, and it was unanimous,” said University at Buffalo music professor Jon Nelson, who books the Art of Jazz series. “They all said ‘She’s amazing, she’s the real deal.’ When we had her perform at Pausa Art House, as part of a duo with bassist Stephan Crump, I thought, ‘This is some of the most transparent music I’ve ever heard in my life.’ It was contemporary, it was accessible, it was thoroughly composed, and it made me feel like I was hearing music for the first time in my life all over again.”

Mary Halvorson's Reverse Blue performs at 3 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Tickets are $29 general, $24 for gallery members.


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