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Mary Halvorson Quintet: Bending Bridges

One of the year’s most eagerly anticipated albums, the Mary Halvorson Quintet’s Bending Bridges has its work cut out for it in topping the band’s 2010 poll favorite, Saturn Sings. But the new recording, which benefits from the band’s first serious stretch of playing together live, is even deeper and edgier than its predecessor. It confirms Halvorson as an artist whose originality as a guitarist is no fiercer than her originality as a writer. Simply put, no one is making music like this.

You never know how Halvorson’s songs, scripted adventures in sound, will unfold. That has been especially true since she expanded from the trio on Dragon’s Head, the 2008 album on which she launched her current cycle of compositions, to a quintet with the addition of trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon. In addition to giving her a wider palette to work with, the horns have enabled her to expand her vision as an arranger.

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