Thumbscrew create a soundscape like no other…a sense that thought and action are simultaneous and acutely in the moment…but also a feeling that they just go about their business with a quiet and intense commitment that is righteous, yet serene in the knowledge of a deeply shared understanding of values that we are encouraged to access.
Every Thumbscrew album is an event. Not only are they three masterful musicians, but the way they play together and off each other also gives their music a seemless quality that shouldn't be obtainable with music this complex.
Thumbscrew are one of the essential contemporary jazz groups, and each of those last four words requires equal stress. They're an indivisible unit, permanently fresh and original, definitely playing jazz...and definitely essential."
– Brian Morton, The Wire
“Thumbscrew...are likeminded souls with decades of experience among them. Encapsulating a rare chemistry, their music offers a virtual masterclass of communal interplay.” – Point Of Departure
At the center of a spiraling musical universe, Thumbscrew is like a reverse black hole radiating brilliant constellations of overlapping ensembles. The all-star trio is at the core, and they’re marking their 10th year as a collective endeavor – 2022 – looking ahead to new sonic territory rather than taking stock of a prodigiously creative decade.
Celebrating this anniversary, Multicolored Midnight is the group’s seventh album, a set of 11 original pieces that oscillate between detailed composition, unbridled improvisation, and every gradation in between. It’s another step on an extraordinary journey by three of jazz’s most dauntless and resourceful artists.
The focus that each player brings to Thumbscrew and the dense web of experience they share is part of what makes the ensemble so extraordinary. Thumbscrew’s ongoing evolution is powered by a super-charged matrix of relationships, as all of the players also lead critically acclaimed bands built on the trio’s thrumming creative synergy. Beyond their work as a trio they’re the foundation for Formanek’s Ensemble Kolossus, Tomas Fujiwara & The Hook Up and Halvorson’s Thumbscrew bandmates are the foundation of her song-based band Code Girl. For Halvorson, Thumbscrew has become an invaluable creative foundation. “It’s one of my favorite rhythm sections to be a part of, the power and energy and everything we create together,” Halvorson said. “At this point, all of us have used this rhythm section as leaders.”
Multicolored Midnight features music that Thumbscrew honed during a three-week residency at City of Asylum, a Pittsburgh program founded as a refuge for writers in exile. Since expanding its purview to include musicians, City of Asylum has become the fourth wheel powering Thumbscrew’s all-terrain evolution as the triumvirate fully utilizes the sequestration to generate and refine new pieces. Three of Thumbscrew’s prior albums had also been generated at City of Asylum.
If there was an agenda for Multicolored Midnight, it centered on fully incorporating Fujiwara’s vibraphone work into the mix. Marking a decade doesn’t have quite the same panache as a diamond jubilee, “but we do feel like it’s a big deal,” Formanek said. “That’s a lot of time for a cooperative band, and the residencies are a big part of what’s allowed us to dive in deeper and keep creating new music.”
released September 30, 2022
Michael Formanek : double bass and electronics
Tomas Fujiwara : drums and vibraphone
Mary Halvorson : guitar
Recorded September 2-3, 2021 at The Bunker Studio, Brooklyn, NY by Aaron Nevezie.
Mixed by Aaron Nevezie.
Mastered by Alex DeTurk.
Produced by Thumbscrew.
supported by 151 fans who also own “Multicolored Midnight”
Mary Halvorson is a genius composer and guitarist who has developed her own musical language, and with Code Girl she has incorporated poetry into that language. Incredible compositions and lyricism (each track is a different kind of poem). Halvorson's playing is as great as usual, and all the other members of the band sound great. Robert Wyatt's singing in particular works extremely well in the tracks he's featured. Highly, highly recommend. rat