Jazz Poetry: Thumbscrew

Sunday, October 9, 2016 @ 7 p.m.
FREE RSVP 2016-10-09 7 p.m. 2016-10-09 America/New_York Jazz Poetry: Thumbscrew 318 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212 Alphabet City

Join us for an evening of avant-garde jazz with Thumbscrew.

Featured Musicians: 

Thumbscrew: Mary Halvorson (guitar), Michael Formanek (bass) & Tomas Fujiwara (drums)

Thumbscrew is a cooperative trio consisting of new jazz leaders Michael Formanek (double bass), Mary Halvorson (guitar), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums). The band’s name might conjure a fearsome image, but Thumbscrew makes inviting music full of wonder and discovery from creative catalysts on jazz’s adventurous frontiers for more than three decades.

“Completely democratic, both in terms of compositions and in playing, the threesome brings [Halvorson] together with bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Tomas Fujiwara, perfectly simpatico playmates…The interplay on Thumbscrew is super, and the tunes are suitably germinative… Halvorson…is on such a tear it’s hilarious…4 1/2 stars”



“Of course they throw punches—any band with Formanek guiding it through the rocks is going to have a feisty side. But from Halvorson’s increasing poise to Fujiwara’s deep agility, even the rumble purrs now and again”

-“The Hot Box”, Downbeat


“Thumbscrew implies a more intense form of free improvisation that these three could easily deliver, yet, with a few exceptions, this music often relies on subtle interaction, lower volumes and expansive compositions.”



“The barrage of riffs are both epic and melodic, the low end beefy and the percussion massive. Expect nothing less than magic from these three avant purveyors.”

-The Village Voice


In one sense, Thumbscrew can be seen as a nexus between a mid-career master and two rising powers. It’s a collaboration that works beautifully, producing music greater than the sum of its parts. Thumbscrew is refreshingly original, and works as a strong composer’s vehicle. While many cooperative bands draw on material recycled from other projects, “One of the things we said at the beginning is let’s just write music for Thumbscrew and it will only be Thumbscrew music,” says Formanek. “It really is a three-composer trio, and all of our tunes have our basic aesthetics attached. But we want everybody to have input. Nobody’s afraid to make a decision. It’s one of the first co-ops I’ve been in where everyone’s really willing to take control at any given moment.”


The trio’s self-titled release on Cuneiform, Thumbscrew, encompasses an array of textures and strategies, ith each musician contributing three tunes, while maintaining a consistently open and transparent sound. Generating tremendous intensity without necessarily increasingly volume or density, Thumbscrew buzzes and crackles, burns and croons. The group is both open and composerly. Part of what makes the band’s music so engaging is that they draw widely and deeply from any number of sonic sources.

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Event Details

October 9, 2016 @ 7 p.m.
318 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh PA 15212

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