Ingrid Laubrock’s music – whether for solo saxophone, duos and this instance – for quintet +1 is rooted in her unique singing style, which encompasses a wide and expressively varied range of non-verbal ‘vocal’ sounds. Beneath the seeming ‘minimalist’ simplicity of her forms lies a wealth of detail, nuance and gesture. The opening selection on this composer (and label) produced disc, “That’s All She Wrote” features quick, rapid flurries on saxophones and, in the guitar, ostinatos that play against syncopated bass notes. Next follows “Roulette of the Cradle” a darkish and whimsical song which is more harmonically static, enhanced by telling shifts in register and texture. The more propulsive two-part “Face the Piper” is equally kinetic while some processional-like chords lurk in the songs shadowy interior evoke the plain-spoken yet tangy sound world of a Bartók-like Mikrokosmas.
Ingrid Laubrock’s strong performance throughout the album incorporates dynamic, tempo and expressive changes that have been made to the score of each song, which are not immediately obvious. But she uses such subterfuge with a clever deliberateness. For instance, the translucent reading of “Silence…” comes off sounding more foreboding and mysterious next to its neighbour “…and Light” which is altogether genial and lyrical. Not that the former is not lyrical, but here you have an example of subtlety of shade and tone colour that informs that broad palette employed by Ms. Laubrock in her complete mastery of the two (tonal) ranges of the saxophones which she plays with utter distinction. And whilst she has a rich ensemble her musical doppelgänger is the brilliantly insouciant Mary Halvorson.
There is a stately pace to the album throughout, but I also like immensely the somewhat faster interpretation of the composer’s witty and almost sardonic piece “From Farm Girl to Fabulous”. This is a quite exquisitely angular piece and reflects a wonderful aspect of Ingrid Laubrock’s personality, which suggests to me that she can be quite entertaining when she wants to be without losing her bite that lies in the tail so to speak. In the final track, despite a rather plain title “Red Hook” mystery still abounds. Here too Ms. Laubrock and Mary Halvorson share a scrupulous austerity that brings out the music’s (I believe…and that’s just me) Satie-like undertones.
Yet there’s something to be said for the lighter, more conversational nature in the music that unfolds throughout this premiere recording featuring Ingrid Laubrock and Mary Halvorson again. The two unquestionably satisfy the composer’s desire to fuse expressivity and restraint. Pieces here are played just right, Nothing is over-emoted. Compositions are carved up with introductions and epilogues and rich harmonics and rock-steady tempos through the middles. Of course nothing is a given throughout, There are no mind-numbing, suffocating repetitions that some of Ms. Laubrock’s contemporaries seem to cultivate. Even when the music is played from a monochrome palette, with harmonics and timbres like light and shade there is a rich tonality, which when suspended in mid-air literally takes my breath away. And that is why this record is a favourite of mine yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Track List: That’s All She Wrote; Roulette of the Cradle; Face the Piper, Part 1; Face the Piper, Part 2; Silence… (for Monika); …and Light (for Izumi); From Farm Girl to Fabulous Vol. II; Red Hook
Personnel: Ingrid Laubrock: tenor and soprano saxophones; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Kris Davis: piano; John Hébert: bass; Tom Rainey: drums; Oscar Noriega: clarinet (5 & 6)
Label: Intakt Records
Release date: May 2015
Running time: 50:29
Buy music on: amazon
About Ingrid Laubrock
Originally from Germany, Ingrid Laubrock resides in Brooklyn, NY. Between 1989 and 2009 she was active as a saxophonist and composer in London/UK. She performed and/or recorded with: Anthony Braxton, Dave Douglas, Kenny Wheeler, Jason Moran, Tim Berne, William Parker, Mark Helias, Tom Rainey, Mary Halvorson, Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, Evan Parker, Luc Ex, Django Bates’ Human Chain, The Continuum Ensemble and many others. Read more…