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Miami’s venerable M Ensemble is a company that sometimes dips into its rich history to mount fresh productions of past shows. For its second production in its versatile new home at the Sandrell Rivers Theater in Liberty City, the troupe is revisiting Darren Canady’s “Brothers of the Dust.” Winner of the 2012 M. Elizabeth Osborn Award from the American Theatre Critics Association, the ..

“El cuento de Rene,” actor and director Larry Villanueva’s adaptation of Cuban writer Rene Ariza’s short stories into a work of theater, is more than an homage. It’s a statement on oppression. Ariza was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to send manuscripts abroad. He was banned from creating theater in Cuba and condemned as “counter-revolutionary.” Ariza served five years of h..

Those who attend film festivals aren't looking for the mainstream, Cineplex offerings. That isn't the goal. Amid the indie films, the foreign entries, documentaries, and the world premieres, there's another reason to canvass the program for something you might not see anywhere else. Given the Miami Film Festival is the only major film festival to be produced by a college or university..

{This interview was conducted before the film making team went on to amazing Oscar success.} Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney and filmmaker Barry Jenkins are nine miles away from the Liberty City housing projects where they both grew up, but they are worlds away. They are at the picturesque Standard Hotel to talk about the new movie "Moonlight," with a screenplay by Jenkins base..

First things first. Actor-playwright Elena María García does explain the meaning of “¡FUÁCATA!” somewhere deep into the 90-minute running time of Zoetic Stage’s “García Or a Latina’s Guide to Surviving the Universe.” The familiar Cuban term, she confides from her perch on Michael McKeever’s Mondrian-evocative set, suggests the sound of a slap. As in, “¡Fuácata! You really stepped in i..

Sales of George Orwell’s chilling dystopian novel “1984” have soared during the early days of the Trump administration, the headlines pouring out of Washington having repositioned a 1949 literary classic as a 21st century cautionary tale. The late Czech president and playwright Václav Havel brought his deeply observed, hard-earned perspective on life under totalitarianism to the stage..

“Carousel,” which contains some of the most gorgeous and memorable songs ever written for a musical, may be a musical you’ve never seen, though it has been around since 1945. The follow-up to “Oklahoma!,” Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II’s hugely successful debut as a composer-lyricist team, “Carousel” requires a huge cast by today’s standards, an orchestra that can do that gl..

Before women like movie star Melissa McCarthy, Chrissy Metz of NBC’s “This Is Us” and Whitney Thore of TLC’s “My Big Fat Fabulous Life” became widely embraced personalities, Josefina Lopez wrote a play titled “Real Women Have Curves.” Lopez’s 1994 comedy, made into a 2002 movie that marked America Ferrera’s film debut, is about many things. Its subjects include the fears of undocument..

Stephen Adly Guirgis won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for drama for his darkly comic “Between Riverside and Crazy.” Two years later, as GableStage’s sizzling new production so abundantly demonstrates, the play feels completely of the moment – in part because its characters traffic in “alternative facts.” Retired New York cop Walter “Pops” Washington (Leo Finnie) refuses to settle an eight-..

Neo-Impressionist Georges Seurat was an influential visionary whose pointillist work launched a movement before his untimely death in Paris in 1891 at the age of 31. He spent two years painting his masterpiece, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” in which tiny dots of juxtaposed color viewed at the right distance transform into a host of Parisians relaxing on an island ..

Miami choreographer Augusto Soledade has been a fixture in the local dance world since he arrived here in 2004. His cast has shifted over the years and he continues to challenge himself artis..

In one duet, two dancers use their bodies as counterweights, springing forth from each other’s bodies with explosive power. In another, dancers form a sharp line before torsos undulate and fa..

Teacher, choreographer and activist Dale Andree is known for her ability to merge activism with dance. Andree founded and directs National Water Dance, a site-specific project that joins danc..

In 2016, Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance company crossed their 25-year mark. To celebrate, the company returns to Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts with a 25th anniversary..

From singers like Joan Baez to poets like Maya Angelou to anonymous knitters of pink pussy hats, creative women have played an essential role in this country as agitators and activists. Likew..

When Dimensions Dance Theatre of Miami (DDTM) takes the stage this weekend, it will present a program rich in the cultural milieu of Miami. Co-founders Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra i..

It is an awe-inspiring experience to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancers perform. They are well trained dancers, athletes and artists. Not often known is that some of the dance..

Back for an 8th season in Miami, the legendary Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater packs the house every year. With Liberty City hometown hero Robert Battle in his fifth year, we have many rea..

Awash in sunlight, around 50 women stand in a circle on the rooftop performance space of Casa Gaia in Old Havana, Cuba, as part of a belly-dance festival. Biodanza facilitator Karen Rodríguez..

Versatile Guitarist Mary Halvorson Flies Solo For Miami

Photo: Photo by Peter Gannushkin
Written by: Tracy Fields
Article Rating

Variety is the spice of guitarist Mary Halvorson’s musical life.

Consider her taste in music. Asked what she’s listening to now, she reports having just gone through a “really heavy Elliott Smith phase,” referring to the late singer/songwriter with a dark bent best known for his Oscar nomination for “Miss Misery” in 1998 for the movie Good Will Hunting. She’s listening as well to the late jazz guitarist Johnny Smith; Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, saxophonist and flutist Henry Threadgill; the new record by the bassist Stephan Crump, a bandmate in one of the many ensembles of which she is part – and there’s the new Fiona Apple, which she likes a lot.“I go through so many phases,” she explains.

Halvorson is one of a growing number of women players in improvised music, in an arena that used to associate women mostly as vocalists. When she appears in Miami on Thursday, Oct. 27, as part of Tigertail Productions’ season, she expects to present a program “leaning toward more experimental forms of jazz, avant-garde jazz, and a lot of rock music influences.”

Her website lists the bands with which she’s involved; their names don’t fit on a single screen. They include Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House, the Tomeka Reed Quartet, and the Tom Rainey Trio. At avant-garde composer and saxophonist John Zorn’s upcoming Bagatelles marathon, she’ll lead her own quartet and perform with another led by pianist Kris Davis.

Halvorson, now a resident of Brooklyn, tours at a break-neck speed. She has performed in over 130 concerts just this past year in the United States and Europe, including at festivals. A glance at that prolific touring schedule reveals performances with a mind-boggling number of ensembles – quartets, octets, trios and more, some playing music described as avant-rock, or improvised, or jazz. So one wonders: when does she sleep? She laughs. “It’s actually not quite as crazy as it sounds. None of them are performing all the time.”

But Miami will get something even a little extra and different -- it’ll just be her and her custom-built traveling guitar. “Playing solo is something I’ve only started doing in the past couple of years,” says Halvorson, who released “Meltframe,” her first solo album, last year.

“As part of my practice routine I’ll often work on jazz standards,” she explains. “As I was practicing that stuff without the intention of turning it into a performance, I started thinking about ways I could arrange these songs for solo guitar that might be different.”

This search for uniqueness is to be expected from one mentored by musical innovator and multi-instrumentalist Anthony Braxton, with whom Halvorson studied at Wesleyan University. She also has played in some of his ensembles, including his trio, septet, and 12+1tet.

“One thing that I really took from him was he would tell all his students, go out and make mistakes, really you can try anything, there’s no limit on what you can do musically.”

Braxton’s work challenges categorization, and some members of the jazz establishment have decreed it is not jazz. Halvorson also operates beyond the strictures of genre. An improviser, she does not call herself a jazz guitarist, though that’s what she studied in college and she is often referred to that way.

“I guess labels are complicated,” she says, adding that if her work had to be put under some large umbrella, jazz would probably be the closest.

“I guess I’m not too bothered whether it’s jazz or not.”

Whatever it is categorized, it will expose Miami to one of the most intriguing guitarists around today.

‘Mary Halvorson solo guitar,’ Thursday at 8:30 p.m., On.Stage Black Box at Miami-Dade County Auditorium, 2901 W. Flagler St., Miami. Tickets $30; VIP table seating is $50; www.tigertail.org.

 


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About The writer

Tracy Fields is a reporter, writer and host of Evenin' Jazz

A member of the South Florida media for more than two decades, Tracy Fields has been a reporter/editor for The Associated Press and a freelance wordsm..

About the Writer

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