Think you know what to expect with Ingrid Laubrock - daring, experimental avant language informed by Ornette Coleman more than John Coltrane as one jumping off point? Wrong but not that wrong. More right but even not that much given that the US based German saxophonist has a habit of confounding all second-guessing is to instead forget all you know about this remarkable player and approach this recording as if in a state of mindfulness. Empty your mind if you can beforehand.
However glibly trotted out your preamble and however zen you can approach this, Laubrock isn't suddenly going to start playing smooth jazz or whistling Dixie. Get a grip. Long term musical and life partner drummer Tom Rainey is as so often an inventive anchor and he is very important in the sound here. At times the drums do play to the sax but there is a helluva lot more going on too that you can't strip down. A sonic sheen to the crackle of atmosphere contained in the opener is one way to open your account. But Laubrock is more scrabbling and sarcastic - if you can be sarcastic (breaking news - this just in, you can) when you play the saxophone. And on 'Grammy Season' which is really freebop with the guitar of Brandon Seabrook acting as a lubricant the pace of the band interplay suddenly ramps up as the irony levels gain maverick traction.
Mazz Swift's violin playing is a big factor on the title track as Seabrook strums. 'Delusions' is more like a track you'd expect to hear Mary Halvorson playing. And it's no surprise really given that Laubrock and Halvorson have worked together in Laubrock's own Anti House band. Cellist Tomeka Reid's part is most important in the modernistic chamber classical-esque piece 'Afterglow' while bassist Michael Formanek's concept of beat is often hidden in plain sight but most significantly surfaces when the improvisers enter territory Brit ''free improv'' players are more likely to be familiar with also contained within the myriad of competing directions of The Last Quiet Place. Listen to a Rachel Musson record - like Reeling - for a good point of comparison for this seam pushed to the bulldozing max. The rendering when that concatenation does happen is less squeaky gate, more a ferocious unpeeling. 'Chant II' is too long but redeems itself enough when it enters woozy Albert Ayler territory. As thought provoking as ever The Last Quiet Place isn't diffident or even that hush laden at all. And you get the feeling the saxophonist has in her work begun not only a new pioneering chapter but a whole new book whose spine is not even anywhere near destructively cracking.
- Laubrock and Milne 'Equanimity' track review - 2022
- Tom Rainey Obbligato 'Stella By Starlight' - 2021
- Laubrock's Dreamt Twice, Twice Dreamt - 2020
L-r: Tom Rainey, Tomeka Reid, Michael Formanek, Mazz Swift, Ingrid Laubrock, Brandon Seabrook. Pic: publicity