Unboxing Music: People featuring Mary Halvorson – 3xaWoman (2014)

There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation after reading the name “Halvorson” in the promo email. Mary Halvorson is one of the jazz world’s most consistently interesting guitar players. So what’s this trio record all about?

People – 3xaWoman

  • Mary Halvorson – guitar, voice
  • Kevin Shea – drums
  • Kyle Forester – bass
  • Horns: Peter Evans, Sam Kulik, Dan Peck

Release date: 6/17/2014, on Telegraph Harp Records



First of all, the word “jazz” is sort of misleading. I mean, the opening track “Prolegomenon” does feature the horns standing alone, building up a theme that wouldn’t have been out of place in David Byrne’s The Knee Plays. But then “These Words Make Up The Lyrics Of The Song” takes over, with the trio getting into something of an extended argument with the horns. There’s a lot of skronking and honking, with the occasional lyric tossed in to break up the fight.

3xaWoman goes on to put People’s gloriously schizophrenic nature on display: sometimes a jazz band, sometimes indie-rock (whatever the hell that even means), sometimes garage rock. That these multiple personalities often show up inside one song makes everything that much more fun. Twisted melodies, distorted guitar, surrealist lyrics…it’s all there.

After only a single listen, I’ve got to say that what really stands out to my ears is how this band manages to fit in the humor without it feeling campy. Especially hilarious is “The Lyrics Are Simultaneously About How The Song Starts,” during which Halvorson and Shea (and maybe even Mr. Forester, it’s sort of hard to tell) announce what they are about to play as the song unfolds. So much fun.

To read/hear more about 3xaWoman, check out our sneak peek of the track Piles For Miles. June 17th. It’ll be a great day.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.