Ingrid Laubrock: Sleepthief (2008)
Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock is one of a handful of musicians who have plotted a disparate course through the music whilst ensuring that not an element of their trajectory sounds contrived. There's also an enviable lack of contrivance about her work, and this disc offers abundant proof of that. Furthermore Intakt is a label with built-in quality control and as such this meeting between musician and label feels so right.
Laubrock has already had the opportunity to build up an exceptional rapport with pianist Liam Noble and that relationship yields abundant fruit here. Drummer Tom Rainey is not in any way excluded however, as this is a trio in the best and indeed the freest sense of the term. Thus the profoundly real time sense of "Oofy Twerp," shot through with Rainey's deft use of mallets, is the work of a trio at ease with itself, though not to the point at which the music is overtly comfortable.
Any sense of unease which that lack of comfort might imply is put to rest by "Batchelor's Know-How" where the music is at one and the same time tautly wound yet loose enough to be permissive of air. That point is underscored by Laubrock on tenor sax. She seems to share with Joe McPhee a predilection for savoring the air around the notes she's making, which lends the music a contemplative air even in its most highly energised moments.
It's abundantly obvious also that Laubrock has found her voice. Her soprano sax on "Social Cheats" hints only slightly and obliquely at Lol Coxhill and it's clear that in common with her cohorts she's acutely aware of the value of silence and space. When the music takes on momentum seemingly out of next to nothing it's one of the most uplifting moments of the whole program.
In near solo for part of "Never Were Not" Laubrock is joined by Noble in a dialog of notable austerity, offering a music purged of both edifice and gesture. It makes for demanding listening, as does the closing "Amelie," where what might be mistaken for indecision actually masks the process of music being coaxed out of nothing. In that respect at least this is heavy creativity indeed. In the rhetorical sense, it's also a declaration of the abiding value of collective, spontaneous music making.
Track Listing: Zugunruhe; Sleepthief; Oofy Twerp; Never Were Not; Environmental Stud; The Ears Have It; Batchelor's Know-How; Social Cheats; Amelie.
Personnel: Ingrid Laubrock: saxophones; Liam Noble: piano; Tom Rainey: drums.