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

Ingrid Laubrock - Serpentines

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.

         Grade  A-

         Grade A-

Favorite Tracks:
02 – Pothole Analytics Pt. 2 ► 04 – Squirrels ► 05 – Serpentines

Jazz Albums 2016 - Weekly Listening Jul 4-10

Another 6 fresh Jazz records to enjoy!


Ingrid Laubrock: tenor and soprano saxophones; Tom Rainey: drums. 

Two Brooklyn-based innate adventurers and partners, both in music and life, Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey are really impressive in the way they dominate their instruments and express themselves. 
By sounding so tight and natural, “Buoyancy”, let the couple’s perfect communication flow both in its fast and furious vindications or hushed sensitivities. It’s their new excavation of rhythms and sounds.
If you’re familiar with their work, you’re probably imagining that rhythm might take over melody throughout the four pieces presented here. Well, this is partly true, if we take into account that this genre lives mostly from the gradual rhythmic alternations, motivic ideas, and interchanges. Still, sweet melodic murmurs and lulls can be assimilated. 
“Buoyancy” is a special record, not only for its creators, but also for those who look for intensity, agility, and creativity in the expansive world of modern jazz.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Buoyancy  02 – Twenty Lanes  03 – The Museum Of Human Achievement


Lionel Loueke: guitar, vocals; Jason Lindner: piano, keyboards; Omer Avital: bass, oud; Daniel Freedman: drums; Gilmar Gomes: percussion.

The flexible New York drummer Daniel Freedman convenes a super multicultural band to play in “Imagine That”, a penetrating record that crosses the boundaries of jazz and world fusion. 
The Brazilian Gilmar Gomes, a member of Forro in the Dark, joins Freedman for the first time, in opposition to the Israeli-American bassist Omer Avital, the American pianist Jason Lindner, and the fantastic and influential Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke, who are longtime collaborators. 
The leader, who incorporated two compositions of Lindner, one of Loueke, and a remarkable interpretation of Radiohead’s “Codex”, boasts his West African and Middle Eastern influences with four dulcet pieces of his own authorship. Three of them were enveloped in cheerful demeanors and the remaining one was delivered with elegiac undertones.
The sum of the parts makes a solid whole, and the noteworthy “Imagine That” sparks as a universal festivity.

Favorite Tracks:
02 – Baby Aya 04 – Codex 05 – Mindaho


Chris Speed: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Red Wierenga: accordion, piano; Matt Moran: vibraphone; Drew Gress: acoustic bass; John Hollenbeck: drums.

Minimally composed and meticulously conceived, the music of The Claudia Quintet, led by the drummer/composer/arranger John Hollenbeck, is always difficult to categorize.
I describe it as a sort of cerebral jazz that merges with fragments of modern classic and folk music, and then is delivered in the form of ethereal, unobstructed, and hypnotic dances.
The tunes are more programmed than improvised, only occasionally opening space to Chris Speed’s non-aggressive saxophone/clarinet, which sound soars over the moods created by Moran’s vibes, Wierenga’s accordion, and the rhythm section. “JFK Beagle” and “Philly” are the tracks that better illustrate this exception.
Hollenbeck’s phenomenal percussive timbres match Gress’ subtle bass work in an irreproachable way. A generalized relentless symbiosis is created, emphasizing the whole rather than the individual.

Favorite Tracks:
02 – JFK Beagle 04 – Philly 10 – Mangold


Sara Serpa: vocals, piano, Fender Rhodes; Andre Matos: guitar, electric bass, percussion; Pete Rende: synthesizer; Billy Mintz: drums, percussion.

Dreamy and atmospheric, “All the Dreams” soars higher with every listening. 
Its airy, often sedative effect comes from the compelling melodies sang by Ms. Serpa, who spreads a sweet languor over the well-crafted textures delineated by her husband, the guitarist Andre Matos. The Portuguese duo, besides playing other instruments that aren’t normally associated with them, counted on the subtle-yet-determined synthesizer of Pete Rende and the percussive skills of the veteran Billy Mintz, in order to materialize their compositions.
Tinged with several influences - from pop to jazz to Middle Eastern music - and featuring the poetry of William Blake, Luis Amaro, and Alvaro de Campos, these tunes sound authentic, taking us to the very particular musical universe of Serpa/Matos. 
Get yourself ready to experience minimalism, complexity, and sophistication throughout this eclectic fusion.

Favorite Tracks:
02 – A La Montagne 03 – Estado de Graça 06 – Água


Brian Groder: trumpet, flugelhorn; Michael Bisio: bass; Jay Rosen: drums.

Brian Groder’s “R Train on the D Line” is an excellent follow-up to “Reflexology”, which was recorded with exactly the same partners in 2014.
The leader’s talking trumpet/flugelhorn evinces melodic consistency and a disarming eloquence regardless the pace and mood of the tunes. Groder's phrasing slides freely and whimsically over the non-static rhythmic masses created by the dauntless bassist Michael Bisio, a distinctive skipper in the pizzicato and bowing approaches, and the off-kilter drummer Jay Rosen. 
Attentive listeners will notice transitory swinging sections being intercalated with the more exploratory ones, an option that avoids steady routines by suggesting a different trajectory.
The super balanced trio approaches Groder’s crisp compositions with discipline, maneuvering the sounds and rhythms with perception, purpose, and accuracy. Multiple listenings will bring new discoveries.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – Quanta 02 – Retooled Logic 05 – Praxis


Lefteris Kordis: piano; Petros Kamplanis: double bass; Ziv Ravitz: drums; 

Greek pianist Lefteris Kordis takes us on a nice cruise, sailing on accessible waters that are shared by jazz and Eastern Mediterranean folk territories.
We can have a better notion of Korda’s beautiful lyricism in the tunes he plays in trio, with the double bassist Petros Kamplanis and the drummer Ziv Ravitz. Sometimes their sound reminisces Steve Kuhn’s textural compositions.
However, it’s not uncommon to hear exotic scales and allusions to flamenco played on top of the more traditional folk songs. This is achieved with the juxtaposition of some other elements such as a restless ney flute, a melodious harmonica, a moving accordion, a crying clarinet, or the medieval touch of a lute. To join these assorted combinations, Mr. Korda seamlessly jazzified “And I Love Her” by The Beatles, giving it a personal touch.

Favorite Tracks:
01 – In the Land of the Phrygians 02 – Yota 05 – The Raven and the Fox