Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

709

Ingrid Laubrock: A New Saxophone Colossus

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Ingrid LaubrockWith Sleepthief (Intakt, 2008), Ingrid Laubrock—a uniquely adventurous saxophonist and bandleader on the British scene since mid decade—has made an album so exceptional that the German-born, London-based musician hasn't gone so much global as galactic.



Deep, singular and utterly compelling, Sleepthief features Laubrock in a trio with British pianist Liam Noble and American drummer Tom Rainey, on a wholly improvised program in which she dazzles both with her brilliantly inventive playing and with the paradigm-shifting sonic vocabularies she is developing on the tenor and soprano. The disc completes a sequence of work—also including Forensic (F-ire, 2004) and Let's Call This... (Babel, 2006)—which confirms Laubrock as a weighty new presence in creative jazz, a superstar in all but mainstream breakthrough. Hopefully, the involvement of Rainey in the Sleepthief trio will give her a bigger platform in the US, where an important new audience awaits her.



In a previous interview with AAJ in August, 2005, Laubrock spoke about her life and music from childhood up until the release of Forensic and her guest appearance on Polar Bear's Mercury Prize-nominated Held on the Tips of Fingers (Babel, 2005). An open, generous and articulate interviewee, with an unassuming but unmistakable presence, she was a pleasure to talk to.



A few months later, in January 2006, Laubrock was awarded a Fellowship in Jazz Composition by Britain's prestigious arts funding body, The Arts Foundation. She released Let's Call This..., a program of duets with Noble, later the same year. In 2007, she was commissioned by the Jerwood Foundation to compose music for a nonet, Nein, to be performed at the 2007 Cheltenham Jazz Festival.



All the while, Laubrock maintained a busy schedule of live performances in Britain and Europe, leading her own bands and guesting with others. She has also made several extended trips to the US, studying, travelling and jamming with friends. She is one of Britain's most active performers, restlessly extending the boundaries of her music. It seems she lives to play.



AAJ spoke with Laubrock again in London in July, 2008—auspiciously, on the day Sleepthief was being pressed. Despite being a little jet-lagged after returning from the US just 36 hours previously, she spoke revealingly about the Sleepthief album and trio, the development of her playing, and her feelings about improvised and pre-structured music.

Ingrid Laubrock

All About Jazz: Let's start with the new trio, Sleepthief. You've been playing together for a year or so now, haven't you?



Ingrid Laubrock: We've been going since early 2007 or late 2006. It's been so organic I've kind of lost track of it. Tom and I had been playing, and I'd been playing with Liam for a while, and at some point we just decided to get together and play whenever Tom was in London and have some fun. Right from the start, the chemistry worked.



I called the band Sleepthief after we'd completed the album, when we were looking for tune titles. I'm terrible with these, and Sleepthief was something a friend had suggested. And I was listening to the album and I thought, maybe this works for the band too. There's a mysterious, dreamlike feel to some of the music—and also you can be torn right out of it.



AAJ: Did you decide not to have a bassist early on?



IL: Right from the start the band seemed to work without one. We tried playing standards once, just for the fun of it, and then we did miss a bass. But for improvisation, we felt that this combination of people, the way it interacts together, works well.



AAJ: The interaction between the three of you is extraordinary, so finely tuned.

Ingrid Laubrock Sleepthief l:r: Liam Noble, Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey

IL: I love playing with these guys. It's so important to be able to let go completely, to be able to express yourself without fearing that the other people aren't going to stay by your side to catch you. It's a situation that needs trust, where people are completely equal. With Liam and Tom I always get the feeling that they're so aware of the whole thing that it's possible to let go and take sidesteps and create all sorts of different scenarios along the way. I lead Sleepthief in the sense I started it, but I don't feel I'm leading it musically.



Liam is someone I've played with for a long time. I always have to be on my toes with him, because he's a very creative, very knowledgeable musician—he can really develop an idea. He can be quite knotty and brittle but soulful too, really lyrical. He's a great improviser despite coming from a more straight-ahead background. Even when we played standards, like on Let's Call This..., there was always this feeling of being on the edge and then catching each other. I have always been in awe of him. When I came out of college, Liam was someone I was eager to play with, and I really had to pluck up my courage to ask him.



Tom is an amazing drummer. It just feels really good playing with him. He's also one of the most creative people I know. He has such a strong feeling of shape and form, of where a track goes. He's just very architectural. I love that, and I especially love it in improvised music. And he has a really beautiful sound. He's such an amazingly experienced and special drummer. He knows how to take the lead but he's also a wonderfully supportive player. I can recognize him on anything, I think, even really old records in completely different styles.

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Album Reviews
Radio
Album Reviews
Multiple Reviews
My Favourite Things
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Two Works For Orchestra With Soloists

Two Works For...

Intakt Records
2018

buy
Contemporary Chaos Practices

Contemporary Chaos...

Intakt Records
2018

buy
Serpentines

Serpentines

Intakt Records
2016

buy
Ubatuba

Ubatuba

Firehouse 12 Records
2015

buy
Roulette of the Cradle

Roulette of the Cradle

Intakt Records
2015

buy
Zurich Concert

Zurich Concert

Intakt Records
2014

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jan31Thu
Ava Mendoza, Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey, Adam Lane,...
H0l0
Ridgewood, NY

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Interviews
David Crosby: A Revitalized Creativity
By Mike Jacobs
January 22, 2019
Interviews
Chuck Deardorf: Hanging On To The Groove
By Paul Rauch
January 19, 2019
Interviews
Satoko Fujii: The Kanreki Project
By Franz A. Matzner
January 9, 2019
Interviews
Ted Rosenthal: Dear Erich, A Jazz Opera
By Ken Dryden
January 7, 2019
Interviews
Jeremy Rose: on new music, collaborations and running a label
By Friedrich Kunzmann
January 6, 2019
Interviews
Ronan Skillen: Telepathic Euphoria
By Seton Hawkins
January 5, 2019
Interviews
Ron Carter: Still Searching for the Right Notes
By Rob Garratt
December 30, 2018