Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl is an exercise in stepping out of one’s comfort zone. Halvorson has made a name for herself in NYC’s dense jazz scene with stunning licks, but with Code Girl she’s written lyrics, which differentiates the project from her mostly instrumental output. She worked with vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, bassist Michael Formanek, and drummer Tomas Fujiwara to record the project.
Over two nights this week, Halvorson recreated the magic at the Jazz Standard, a great room for listening in NYC’s Gramercy neighborhood. On Tuesday, we were lucky enough to catch Halvorson’s quintet as they performed nearly the entire project over the course of the early and late sets. Moments of grueling vocal intensity from Kidambi were matched with challenging Halvorson licks on cuts like “Deepest Similar” and “My Mind I Find The Time.”
The music was challengingly dark for the Jazz Standard’s supper-club atmosphere (and delicious chicken wings and chocolate cake, mind you), but fitting for the shit weather we’ve had in NYC this week. It felt great to hole up in the basement club with some food, drink, and boundary-pushing music courtesy of Code Girl, who stunned with their music even in lieu of a replacement trumpeter as Akinmusire was replaced by Adam O’Farrill for the shows. (O’Farrill, a great player, had no issue with rising to the occasion.)
Halvorson’s Code Girl is available to stream and purchase here.