Dragon's Head is acclaimed Brooklyn-based guitarist/composer Mary Halvorson's debut recording as a bandleader. Recorded at Firehouse 12's state of the art studio in New Haven, it features ten new original compositions written specifically for her working trio with bassist John Hebert and drummer Ches Smith. She has previously composed music for recordings with her chamber music duo with violist Jessica Pavone and the avant-rock duo, People, with drummer Kevin Shea, but this is her first release alone at the helm of her own ensemble.
"I have always gravitated towards the guitar/bass/drum trio format," writes Ms. Halvorson in the liner notes. "I have wanted to write for this instrumentation for years, but this project is the first time I have actually attempted it. This trio is also a great excuse to work with two of my favorite musicians; I wrote all of these songs with Ches and John's playing in mind. I also took it as an opportunity to experiment with different compositional forms, as well as varying harmonic, melodic and rhythmic components."
The New York Times' Ben Ratliff writes, "It took only a few seconds to see the good sense in the band: no matter how abstruse the music can get, it rested on a strong, simple principle of balance and contrast." Guitar Player's Elliott Sharp adds, "While the group uses acoustic bass and clearly lies within the 'jazz' camp, it sounds like no other...dissonant arpeggios melding into pounding odd-meter repetitive grooves, spidery textures becoming cracked melodies, and jazzy vamps fragmenting into vicious free-form interactions, with Halvorson wrenching blistering lines and rude sounds from her guitar."