Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey-Buoyancy_First Impressions

Ingrid Laubrock is one of the many big voices in Brooklyn’s avant-garde jazz scene.  Her 2015 albums “Ubatuba” and “Roulette of the Cradle” signified milestones in her career as both were lush with intriguing composition for unique ensemble structures with an emphasis on improvisation.  On her most recent project “Buoyancy,” Laubrock’s musicality is put to a different test: an intimate conversation with her husband and drummer Tom Rainey.

Rainey’s astounding ability to root a music in a sensible meter structure pushes the music forward.  His attention to detail in accompaniment also deems him a melodic drummer.  Tom playing accompanies saxophone phrasing perfectly as ideas constantly bounce back between each voice.  In the beginning of “Twenty Lanes,”  Laubrock plays a role of accompaniment as her slow, droning melody lays the groundwork for Rainey’s textural percussive phrasing.  Eventually  Laubrock somewhat takes center stage, but the communication remains very strong, neither musician standing in the other’s way.

The duo remains quite subtle.  Although Laubrock has the ability to belt out high notes, she seems to be going for a different sound on this record by focusing more on the beauty of subdued playing.  Rainey backs her up perfectly, only pushing into groove states at well selected intervals.

One of my issues with the jazz community sometimes is the obsession with putting albums out constantly.  It creates stagnation because musical growth takes time and by constantly releasing records, jazz musicians might lose out on some of the evolution that can happen when music is allowed to breathe.  The record doesn’t seem to stray too far from the tropes of Laubrock’s style last year.  Her melodies and licks remain in very modern-rooted harmony with screaming extended techniques bringing out the more intense expressive moments.  Again Rainey plays all over his kit weaving textures and tones together.  Aesthetically there’s no change.  Both musicians are entirely acoustic with no production techniques being used to change around the album’s sound.

My first reaction to this record was quite positive.  It held my attention the whole time and once again Laubrock and Rainey have showcased their magnificent musical ability, but it is difficult to predict how this record will stand the test of time.   Many might say that the production value of an entirely free-jazz, duet record may be too low when compared to the more composition-rooted, big ensemble “Roulette of the Cradle.”  There is also validity to minimalism.  More listens are necessary to unlock more of the nuance on “Buoyancy.”

DB

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