“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
The trio Thumbscrew came about by accident, after bassist Michael Formanek subbed in a band including guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara. Something special happened among them right away, so they formed a trio, a co-operative in the truest sense. They play originals by all hands, compositions whose rhythms may surge or lag or veer sideways according to their own internal logic. Bass and drums solo within the ensemble, not in quarantine. No one needs to be loudest. The blend is tight: one string (or metal) sound may bleed into another. It’s something to hear—something twisty and turny and always on the move.
Convallaria Released May 20, 2016
Creative artists aren’t subject to state persecution in the United States, but indifference can exact its own cost, just as generous support can pay steep dividends. Thumbscrew spent two weeks honing the tunes on Convallaria at City of Asylum, a residency program in Pittsburgh, and for Thumbscrew the opportunity for intensive, undistracted work and woodshedding yielded a particularly striking body of music.
Already closely bonded by extensive collaborations in a variety of overlapping ensembles, the powerhouse triumvirate got to spend the kind of concentrated time together that’s “almost unheard of these days,” says Formanek. “I’ve done some composition residencies working on my own. But we were all there together, working on music every day, trying things out. I miss that from my younger days.”
“It was amazing,” agrees Halvorson. “Everyone’s so busy. Even with my own band it can be like pulling teeth to get one rehearsal together. For two weeks we played every day and worked on all the new music. It really helped us to take the band to the next level.”
Convallaria is the work of a true collective with all three players contributing compositions and taking equal responsibility for shaping the music’s flow. While exploring an array of improvisational spaces, the band has honed a sinewy sound marked by transparent textures and astringent rhythms. It’s music that pushes outward and snaps back into unexpectedly altered forms. Press Release: Thumbscrew "Convallaria"
Thumbscrew Thumbscrew’s first CD, Thumbscrew, on Cuneiform Records. Released January 21, 2014.