The spring-going-on-summer 2020 cancellation of live performances has hit jazz fans hard and it has hit musicians even harder, denying them their main source of income. Nonetheless, the response of many players has been selfless, making available morale-boosting livestream performances, most of which it is possible to watch for free, sometimes with the option of giving a donation via a tip box.
Brooklyn-based saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock
and drummer Tom Rainey
have had an equally generous and timely idea: a series of newly made home-recordings going under the generic title Stir Crazy
, which you can obtain for free through Bandcamp. So far, the duo have released four episodes. You can find the first three here
and the fourth here
. The plan is to carry on releasing episodes at roughly one-week intervals.
The initiative is, says Laubrock, helping she and Rainey keep sane while also staying in touch with fans who are avid concert goers and who the duo miss playing for. Whenever they do get donations, Laubrock and Rainey give 50% or more to charities dealing with the health crisis and do a little grocery shopping with the rest.
As a duo, Laubrock and Rainey are as deep and as engaging as that other exceptional saxophone and drums partnership featuring Binker Golding
and Moses Boyd
, joint auteurs of London
alternative jazz scene. The Stir Crazy
recordings were made with a Zoom handheld device, so, as Laubrock points out, they are not of audiophile quality but they are honest and heartfelt musicallyand as has ever been the case, it is what is in the grooves that counts.
Laubrock and Rainey are modern masters with a lengthy history of playing together and, as you might anticipate, Stir Crazy
offers music of rare and profoundly symbiotic beauty. Hearing musicians playing together with such extraordinary rapport is always uplifting, and it has probably never been more so than in April 2020. The series is a promise of the pleasures to come when public performances resume. Meanwhile, it is great medicine for the heart and soul.
Stir Crazy Episode 1; Episode 2; Episode 3; Episode 4.