Tiny Desk

Mary Halvorson Quintet

Mary Halvorson Quintet: Tiny Desk Concert

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/172713493/172904832" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Today, when you see a saxophonist and a trumpeter in front of a jazz group, it's par for the course. It's a particular combination that's defined many landmark recordings: Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Done right, it's a classic meat-and-potatoes sound: open to reinvention, comfortable with tradition.

Guitarist Mary Halvorson didn't come to this standard practice just by playing standards. As a sidewoman, she's often tapped to play in open improvising situations; her mentors include the unclassifiable composer Anthony Braxton and the free-jazz guitarist/bassist Joe Morris. Among her sonic signatures are craggy distortions, bent strings and delay-pedaled blurts through a hollow-body guitar.

Yet Halvorson has now recorded two albums with her quintet, one with alto saxophone (Jon Irabagon) and trumpet (Jonathan Finlayson) up top. (The rhythm section is also among New York's finest, with John Hebert on bass and Ches Smith on drums.) From the way her songs balance order and entropy, you can hear that she's studied how golden-era hard bop blended those voices, and how later generations morphed, rephrased and imploded those ideas.

We thought we'd spring this particular sound of surprise on the Tiny Desk. So when they showed up in town to perform, we invited Mary Halvorson and her quintet to NPR Music's headquarters, where they got comfortable enough to get rad.

Set List

All compositions by Mary Halvorson.

  • "Love In Eight Colors" (No. 21)
  • "Hemorrhaging Smiles" (No. 25)

Credits

Producer: Patrick Jarenwattananon; Editors: Denise DeBelius, Gabriella Garcia-Pardo; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Denise DeBelius, Christopher Parks, Lauren Rock; photo by Ryan Smith/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzon-Montano performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 3, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Gabriel Garzón-Montano

Gabriel Garzón-Montano spent three years writing and recording his beautiful, dense album Jardin -- but for his Tiny Desk visit, he stripped it all down to two elements, the piano and his voice.

Julia Jacklin performs a Tiny Desk Concert on May 1, 2017. (Claire Harbage/NPR) Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Tiny Desk

Julia Jacklin

A restrained, whisper-soft Tiny Desk concert from Australian singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin with songs taken from her debut album Don't Let The Kids Win.

Troker performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 5, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Troker

Mexico may not be known for its jazz, but the young lions of Troker are a promising hope to make the country and its capital city a destination.

Tim Darcy performs at Tiny Desk Concert on April 21, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Tim Darcy

Tim Darcy of Montreal band Ought brings his mysterious solo work, from the album Saturday Night, to the Tiny Desk. The record he says, was his chance to "get back to my roots, in my own voice."

Danilo Brito performs a Tiny Desk concert on April 10, 2017. (Ariel Zambelich/NPR) Ariel Zambelich/NPE hide caption

toggle caption Ariel Zambelich/NPE

Tiny Desk

Danilo Brito

Danilo Brito and his band brought their dextrous expression of choro music to the Tiny Desk, a long-established musical style that has its roots in the streets and backyards of Brito's native Brazil.

Aimee Mann performs at Tiny Desk Concert on Apr. 20, 2017 (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero /NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero /NPR

Tiny Desk

Aimee Mann

"This song is called 'You Never Loved Me' — it's another cheery, optimistic number," says Aimee Mann, introducing the second of four songs in this Tiny Desk Concert.

Peter Silberman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Apr. 7, 2017. (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Tiny Desk

Peter Silberman

A strange condition hushed the life of Peter Silberman, resulting in what may be the quietest Tiny Desk Concert ever.

Antonio Lizana performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Jan. 25, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Antonio Lizana

The traditions of flamenco and jazz are disparate, but in the hands of a few Spanish jazz musicians, these two worlds commingle and find common ground.

Chicano Batman performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Mar., 30, 2017. (Marian Carrasquero/NPR) Marian Carrasquero/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Marian Carrasquero/NPR

Tiny Desk

Chicano Batman

Chicano Batman comes with a sound that perfectly captures dark lounges, quinceñera dances, car shows and backyard parties.

Back To Top