Ingrid Laubrock - Contemporary Chaos Practices

Label: Intakt Records, 2018

Personnel includes Ingrid Laubrock: saxophone, composer; Eric Wubbels: conductor; Taylor Ho Bynum: conductor; Mary Halvorson: guitar; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Kris Davis: piano; and many more.


Not everything is chaotic in Contemporary Chaos Practices, the new visionary work from immensely talented saxophonist/composer Ingrid Laubrock, an indispensable name whenever creative jazz is the topic. Ms. Laubrock, who is German but Brooklyn-based, ventures into the large ensemble format (42 musicians), conceiving two works for orchestra with two conductors - Eric Wubbels and Taylor Ho Bynum - and first-line soloists such as guitarist Mary Halvorson, pianist Kris Davis, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and herself.

The first work gave the album its title and is divided into three tracks that decrease in time but not in motivation or vitality. The opening piece “Part 1 & Part 2” is affected by a magical gravity that will take you to a different dimension where eerie vibrations are commingled with punchy frisson. After Halvorson’s introduction, the bandleader sounds as expressive as ever on tenor, filling the air with excited exclamations uttered with a solid tonal control and spiced by an effective usage of extended techniques. Each distinct segment is shaped by a careful selection of instruments, which ably move through different stages, leading to moments of whether composed candor or organized orchestral convolution.

We find deep sounds on “Part 3”, which contrast with Davis’ shrill punctuations. This happens before a rushed collective passage breaks out, carrying a wide sense of urgency and urbanity that may be associated with the city of New York.

Lasting approximately three minutes, “Part 4” completes the so-called practices, having vibraphone, strings, and woodwinds bestowing a dreamy intonation apart from the sensation of danger and restlessness that substantiates its cliché-free orchestration.

The nearly 18-minute “Volgelfrei”, meaning outlaw, is an independent composition on the album, a cinematic narration with two distinct sides: one ethereal, here reinforced by the vocal choir, and one earthly, whose matrixes of sound fall somewhere between the clean and the dirty. In this odd framework of splendor and drama, be ready to come across with unheralded rhythmic manifestations, unrelenting circular movements, and glorious crescendos subjected to abrupt fractures. The final section decelerates like a locomotive when is almost reaching its destination.

Continually oozing energy and following an impressive narrative arc, this progressive big band recording is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Grade  A-

Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
01 - Part 1 & Part 2 ► 02 - Part 3 ► 04 - Volgelfrei