If Cream and Nirvana had played instrumental jazz... they might have sounded like Thumbscrew. ...electric guitarist Mary Halvorson (just about every jazz critics favorite new six string goddess), double bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara forge a sound that is both heavy and melodic, qualities shared by those iconic power trios. In terms of jazz legacy, Thumbscrew obliquely bridges the guitar elegance of Jim Hall and the skronk of Marc Ribot, with Halvorson negotiating a tone on her hollow-body Guild that moves from fluid, ringing, and clean to brittle, bent, and blurry- and cant be mistaken for anyone elses. ...nine original pieces, some of which feel like songs while others range more wildly like free improvisations. ...its the taught rhythmic and harmonic interplay - as if the musicians are strapped tightly together in a roller coaster car - that makes the albums 55 minutes unrelentingly gripping through passages both quiet and lilting and insanely fast and furious. 4/5 music, 3/5 sonics
- Derk Richardson, Absolute Sound, April 2014
The barrage of riffs are both epic and melodic, the low end beefy and the percussion massive. Expect nothing less than magic from these three avant purveyors."
The Village Voice
Thumbscrew is a very exciting group that highlights intricate and emotionally-driven compositions focused on intense interactions between instruments. One of the most exciting bands currently playing
Cisco Bradley, jazzrightnow.com
Pardon me while I gush. Mary Halvorson reminds me what there is to like about the guitar. No matter how pyrotechnical her playing gets...it never loses a sense of the palpable. ... Behind the motion and ideas, you detect a guitar and a physical presence. ... This trio offers a fabulous first course if youre not already schooled in Halvorson. Completely democratic, both in terms of compositions and in playing, the threesome brings her together with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fjiwara, perfectly sympatico playmates. ... The interplay on Thumbscrew is super, and the tunes are subtly germinative. ...Halvorson..is on such a tear its hilarious. Out of the blue, at the end of the drummers cool Nothing Doing, the trio breaks into a prog-metal riff. The guitar muscles through nastily, but mostly Halvorson maintains a light, brilliant linearity... 4 12 stars.
John Corbett, The Hot Box, Downbeat, April 2014
... Although freewheeling improvisational detours abound, the project is primarily composition driven...each work was specifically conceived for this lineup, instilling stylistic cohesiveness... Despite mirroring the instrumentation of Halvorsons own trio, Thumbscrew explores similar thematic territory with a greater dynamic range and a concerted focus on collective improvisation. A magnanimous collaborator, Halvorson's urbane compositions tend to favor the rhythm section's supple interactions in this intimate setting... Balancing sophisticated writing with adroit improvisational interplay, Thumbscrew is a captivating document of the harmonious chemistry shared by three master musicians. Following in the footsteps of recent releases from vanguard artists like Living By Lanterns,Rob Mazurek and Jason Robinson, Cuneiform Records continues to issue some of the most compelling modern jazz of our time... 4/5 Stars
- Troy Collins, All About Jazz, February 21 2014
Michael Formanek - Double Bass - http://www.michaelformanek.com
Tomas Fujiwara Drums - http://tomasfujiwara.com