Jessica Pavone & Mary Halvorson, Vox Arcana, DJ John Corbett | Hideout | Jazz | Chicago Reader

Jessica Pavone & Mary Halvorson, Vox Arcana, DJ John Corbett Recommended Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Wed., July 29, 9:30 p.m. 2009

Guitarist Mary Halvorson and violist Jessica Pavone are two of the most exciting figures in New York’s jazz and improvised-music community. They’ve played heady, rigorous music in ensembles led by the likes of Anthony Braxton and Taylor Ho Bynum, and in their duo—though it’s by comparison a relaxed, intimate, and informal setting—they create work of comparable depth and seriousness. They combine elements of jazz with folk and pop without privileging one over the other, like a pair of front-porch pickers who just happen to engage in jagged free improvisation and radical explorations of harmony. Half the songs on their third album, Thin Air (Thirsty Ear), include vocals—simple, straightforward, usually ragged, often in unison—and though you’d be complimenting either woman by calling her a singer, Halvorson and Pavone are definitely bucking a long-standing orthodoxy in improvised music by daring to use sung melodies. The substance of their work is still instrumental, however: stark strumming and coarse double-stops form nuanced but accessible architectures that routinely fall in on themselves, tangling with a knotty harmonic richness worthy of Derek Bailey. Onstage they’re charmingly casual, no matter how heavy the music gets. Vox Arcana opens and John Corbett spins. —Peter Margasak

Price: $7

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