Saturn Sings is guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson’s highly anticipated follow-up to her acclaimed 2008 debut, Dragon’s Head (Firehouse 12). It documents a new book of music written for her latest ensemble, the Mary Halvorson Quintet, which adds fellow New Yorkers Jonathan Finlayson (trumpet) and Jon Irabagon (alto saxophone) to her longstanding trio with bassist John HÃ©bert and drummer Ches Smith. These compositions, her first for a band with horns, employ harmonies influenced by such diverse inspirations as Clifford Brown, Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers, Marvin Gaye, Thelonious Monk, Alexander Scriabin, Archie Shepp, Dmitri Shostakovich and Robert Wyatt.
“Saturn Sings is a continuation of the concepts and ideas heard on Dragon’s Head,” Ms. Halvorson explains. “My interest in harmony has grown and I’m attempting to build on the foundation of guitar, bass and drums while writing a lot of close-knit and often dissonant horn lines. There are now many other directions to go in, and the horns push the trio into different realms and vice-versa. The more we perform, the more the music gets both looser and tighter; tighter because we are working on developing a band sound, and looser because we are comfortable and trust each other, which allows us the freedom to take chances and to explore within the framework of the piece.”