Ingrid Laubrock: saxophones, glockenspiel; Peter Evans: trumpet; Dan Peck: tuba; Craig Taborn: piano; Miya Masaoka: koto; Sam Pluta: electronics; Tyshawn Sorey: drums.
German-born Brooklyn-based saxophonist, Ingrid Laubrock, an active hipster within the modern creative jazz scene, who knows how to prod and when to loosen up, doesn’t stop to amaze me with her projects. Following a great duo record with the inventive drummer Tom Rainey, she presents five brand new compositions in the company of a debutant group. In Serpentines, she explores diverse sonorous landscapes and never sounds the same twice, giving her peers – trumpeter Peter Evans, pianist Craig Taborn, drummer Tyshawn Sorey, koto player Miya Masaoka, tuba player Dan Peck and electronics wizard Sam Pluta – the opportunity to intervene with fantasy, cohesiveness, and reverie.
The opening tune, “Pothole Analytics”, was split in two parts, working as an invitation for a variety of textures and calculated structures that will come next. The first part is sparse in movements, organic in its musical intercessions, and uniform in intensity. It moves in a sort of limbo, promising to explode any time with a provocative tangibility. The second part brings us the scintillating effervescence we always expected on the first one. The vivid interactions, suffused with irony and the polyphony generated by Laubrock, Evans and Peck, can be described as a controlled cacophony where no one stands out but the collective. Constantly searching for balance and carefully eschewing altercation, Masaoka and Taborn sketch agitated figures while Sorey confidently takes the rudder in his hands, propelling the starship into the vastness of space.
Their spectrum gets darker in the obscure “Chip in Brain”, a quasi-cinematic experience of startling textures. Surreptitiously, the tune evolves into a dreamy aura with the contribution of Pluta’s effects, Evans’s long notes, and Masaoka’s gentle touches.
“Squirrels”, a modern hymn, blossoms with tortuous lines of soprano sax and trumpet. Lurking in the corner, Peck’s tuba is attached as a guideline while Taborn balances everything with his monster creativity and freedom, well accompanied by Sorey’s fleet drumming. To better define the sections, unisons are injected as interludes, and the tune culminates with a diptych of Masaoka’s strumming and Pluta’s noise, before assuming the form of a prodigious march.
Chimerical and explorative, the title track bursts with rhythm, becoming cautiously atmospheric as the textures weaved by Taborn, Sorey, and Pluta invite Peck’s low vibes. The bandleader resumes the melodic contours with the help of Masaoka’s exotic sounds.
Accurately composed and wrapped in fantastic chemistry, Serpentines reaffirms Laubrock as an indispensable figure in the contemporary jazz. New York is her home, but this music has no borders, showing solid, serpentine roads paved with freedom and discipline, expansions and contractions, composure and convulsion.
02 – Pothole Analytics Pt. 2 ► 04 – Squirrels ► 05 – Serpentines