We find Ingrid Laubrock back on this other trio with Kris Davis on piano and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, another unusual trio line-up, for an album of equal quality despite its different approach. All eight tracks contain elements of composition and structure, and they are almost equally distributed among the trio : three by Davis, three by Sorey, two by Laubrock. Yet composition and structure act as footholds on an adventurous journey, the rocks which help you cross the stream.
In contrast to the Tom Rainey trio, the general nature of the music is more welcoming, more gentle, more organic in its development. The intensity can change dramatically in one and the same piece, evolving from high energy towards calm moments, yet it is the open nature of the pieces that is its strongest characteristic. Sorey's "Slow Burn" is indeed slow, with the least number of notes necessary to create a great atmosphere full of tension. The tones are stretched, and remain open, waiting for silence to evaporate them or to be replaced with new ones, quietly, slowly. On "Canines", the open nature remains, with silence dominating, fractured by some bluesy chords and incredibly sensitive blowing by Laubrock, possibly one of her biggest strengths, yet slowly a theme emerges, the tempo increases, and the piece gets some harmonic development, like a story being told. A musical story. The whole album is like this, with linear story-telling, careful attention to detail and overall effect, without falling back on easy patterns.
The biggest effect comes from the slow tension-building silences that define the overall sound : there is no hurry, the pace is measured, each note ripens fully and almost individually. The density of the album shifts repeatedly, but regardless of the moment, it is always very lyrical and with three musicians working as one on the same concept. Really great.
For those interested in the album's title : the paradoxical frog is also called the shrinking frog, because the tadpole can have three to four times the size of the adult animal.