Away with You

Released

After a solo album, 2015’s Meltframe, guitarist Mary Halvorson reconvened her already larger-than-average group and added a player, creating an octet with trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson, alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, trombonist Jacob Garchik, bassist John Hébert, drummer Ches Smith, and the surprising new element: pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn. The almost even balance between strings and horns makes the music fundamentally different than on any previous Halvorson recording — her interplay with Alcorn, the contrast between fast, jabbing runs and almost pastoral drones and sweeps, is at the center of the music, and the horns are often reduced to squabbling commentary. And some pieces, like the title track, feature some of her most conventionally beautiful melody writing. This is a glorious, expansive flowerbed of an album. (As always, the compositions are numbered, in this case running from 52 to 59.)

Phil Freeman

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