Tom Rainey Obbligato is drummer Rainey's jazz standards group. Untucked In Hannover is the first live album of a triptych. It follows Obbligato (2014) and Float Upstream (2017), both on Intakt Records. Great American Songbook tunes hammered and bent and stretched away from expectations into new shapes is the name of the game, an approach which runs parallel to that of Lee Konitz, especially the alto saxophonist's late career outings, including Live At the Blue Note (Half Note, 2012) and Standards Live: At the Village Vanguard (Enja, 2014).
With Rainey, a "standard approach" may seem outside of his wheelhouse; he is known for his work in the freer side of jazz, in collaboration with saxophonists Tim Berne and Tony Malaby, and Ingrid Laubrock, who is the saxophonist in Obbligato. And hearing him shift from the searing intensity of Berne's Big Satan group to a more melodious form of expression in his Obbligato is a tip of the hat to a respect for the tradition, even as he and his quintet grab that tradition by the lapels to give it a good shake.
Trumpeter Ralph Alessi and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock are the front linethough nobody seems positioned "out front" here. The ever versatile Drew Gress (an inside/outside, whatever-the-situation-calls-for guy) plays bass, and Jacob Sacks sits in on piano, replacing Kris Davis, who played on the earlier Obbligato sets.
It is hard to imagine this music being rehearsed beyond a cursory effort. This is spontaneity, cubed. No extended solos, no grandstanding, but rather a loose and flexible group articulation that sometimes slips straight into the melody, but more often stretches it out of its familiar shape, sometimes beyond recognition. Rehearsal might tighten things up and take the gleam off the freshness.
And sometimes a song morphs: "What's New" evolves into "There Is No Greater Love;" "Just In Time" pivots to Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." The quintet closes the show with a rollicking take of Jerome Kern's "Long Ago and Far Away," with Rainey pounding away like a rhythmic lunatic (with a method to his lunacy), laying down a rhumba-gone-wild groove inside the wailing horns. You cannot wrap up a show in a better fashion than that.
If I Should Lose You; Stella By Starlight; What's NewThere Is No Greater Love; I Fall In Love Too Easily; Just
In TimeIn Your Own Sweet Way; Long Ago And Far Away.
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