Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House, Strong Place (Intakt)

15 May

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New York-based German saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock continues to assert herself as one of today’s most promising jazz musicians. Since the release of its debut, the unit known as Anti-House has expanded from a quartet to a quintet with pianist Kris Davis now being officially inducted into the group – she had previously appeared as a guest artist.

The band is probably a flag bearer for a new New York sound detached from what was known as the Downtown scene – ironically, none of the musicians is originally from the Big Apple. Laubrock, Davis, guitarist Mary Halvorson, and bass player John Hebert are all rising stars. And experienced drummer Tom Rainey whose name has been associated with countless sessions adds even more credibility.

Each piece would require a second-by-second description. Indeed, Laubrock’s compositions are dense and malleable patchworks of insistent codas, melody bits, dissonant and angular statements, or jagged rhythms and lines, and make use of the many tools that are part of each musician’s arsenal.

Anti-House makes challenging music but provides enough hooks to grab and retain the attention, most notable on the Henry Threadgill tribute, “Cup in a Teastorm.” Preeminently and perhaps facetiously featuring Davis’s piano – an instrument Threadgill rarely uses – Rainey’s busy and choppy drumming propels this faithful homage reminiscent of his Sextett days. Playfulness also comes into play, as evidenced in the middle of “Count ‘Em” at the injunction of Rainey, which underlines the authority that each musician can exercise to take the music in a new direction or to cue a new segment. Because what impresses most is how nimbly the band can negotiate shifts and, in particular, move from textures to a melody.

Finally, Strong Place will remain a great entry point to admire Laubrock’s soprano playing which is gaining in personality even if the fat lines she can conjure lean towards Joe McPhee.

– Alain Droulot

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