The Thirteenth Assembly musicians

Bob Burnett: I just recently re-upped my subscription to Wire Magazine and it's a good thing I did. One of the first articles I read in the recent issue was Howard Mandel's profile of the members of the Thirteenth Assembly. (Taylor Ho Bynum, Mary Halvorson, Jessica Pavone and Tomas Fujiwara) The group is part of a larger collective of Brooklyn/NYC-based players who pool their skills, touring, resources and album releases in a variety of ways to make exciting, innovative and thought-stimulating improvisational-rooted music. The players all seem to be connected to Anthony Braxton--either as a teacher or as players of his music. Taylor Ho Bynum is probably the most previously noted of the group having released an album with Braxton a few years back (Duets Wesleyen 2002) when he was in his mid-twenties. He has a marvelous sextet album out called The Middle Picture, released on his Firehouse 12 label. Another Firehouse 12 release that I have been immersed in is guitarist Mary Halvorson's Trio Dragon's Head. I am finding a ton to like about this album--open playing, creative improvisation---or as Elliot Sharp said about Halvorson and the trio:

"Dissonant arpeggios melding into pounding odd-meter repetitive grooves, spidery textures becoming cracked melodies, and jazzy vamps fragmenting into vicious free-form interactions"

I know this group of players is being jammed into the "jazz" cubbyhole but I'm hearing a much wider, more involved strand of connections---In addition to the avant jazz realm I'm hearing shards of other ensemble/improvisational groups from a few decades back such as Etron Fou leloublan, Universe Zero and Henry Cow. I'm downloading or buying cd's left and right by all the members as well as the players they work with--but wanted to get something out to c60 readers so you can explore the music for yourself.

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