4

Tom Rainey: Obbligato

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Tom Rainey has been a fixture in New York's Downtown scene since the early '90s. The stalwart drummer's current efforts have found him expanding his purview, collaborating with a new generation of creative improvisers. Working on original material with young Brooklyn-based artists like Ingrid Laubrock and Mary Halvorson, Rainey continues experiments in form and structure that he originally helped pioneer with his peers, including Tim Berne, Andy Laster and Tom Varner.

Obbligato is Rainey's second release for Intakt Records as a leader and a notable first for the intrepid percussionist since it features Great American Songbook material instead of rarefied originals, intriguingly reinterpreted by a multi-generational group of artists. Trumpeter Ralph Alessi and bassist Drew Gress are fellow Downtown scene veterans, while saxophonist Laubrock and pianist Kris Davis are prodigiously talented members of a younger generation. Using well-known standards as common ground, the five-piece ensemble embraces the harmonic foundations of familiar songs with a concerted focus on melodic invention. Together they reconfigure traditional tunes as impressionistic sketches, treating timeless themes as rubato obbligatos underpinned by supple group interplay.

Brimming with luminous passages of euphonious call-and-response and bold collectivism, the session unveils a multiplicity of approaches towards time-honored material. Two versions of "Just in Time" bookend the date, opening and closing the album with pulse-quickening excitement, as the quintet careens through the changes with free-spirited abandon. Renditions like Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way" offer a more sober experience; a relaxed gait accentuates the warmth and lyricism of the number's core motif, a sonorous line beautifully extrapolated by Alessi and Laubrock in a series of breathy exchanges. Even warhorses like "Prelude to a Kiss" and "You Don't Know What Love Is" are recast anew; the former unfolds as a phantasmagoric abstraction, the latter as a cinematic tone poem fortified by rhapsodic embellishments towards the coda.

Greater than the sum of its parts, the group's congenial rapport is emblematic of attentive listening and democratic interplay. Alessi's oblique lyricism, Laubrock's quixotic phrasing, Davis' pointed accents and Gress' pliant ruminations all work in collusion with the leader's wide-ranging dynamics. Though unconstrained by formal concerns, the musicians always maintain some key aspects of the underlying structure of each piece, be it melody, harmony or rhythm. Such awareness of the tradition enriches the depth of their interpretations, making Obbligato one of the most persuasive modern recordings of established standards in some time.

Track Listing: Just in Time; In Your Own Sweet Way; Long Ago and Far Away; Reflections; Secret Love; Prelude to a Kiss; Yesterdays; If I Should Lose You; You Don't Know What Love Is; Just in Time Again.

Personnel: Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Ingrid Laubrock: soprano and tenor saxophones; Kris Davis: piano; Drew Gress: bass; Tom Rainey: drums.

Title: Obbligato | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Intakt Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "A Cast of Thousands" CD/LP/Track Review A Cast of Thousands
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "Ugly Beauty" CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Troy Dostert
Published: March 6, 2017
Read "Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations" CD/LP/Track Review Aram Bajakian's Dolphy Formations
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "Madjafalao" CD/LP/Track Review Madjafalao
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 19, 2017
Read "Collider" CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "The Eighth Hour Of Amduat" CD/LP/Track Review The Eighth Hour Of Amduat
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 17, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.