Ingrid Laubrock

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Reviews of Ingrid Laubrock


25/05/2010 FreejazzStef

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.


01/03/2005 Lara Bellini, BBC Music


Already known for her collaborations with the Brazilian-oriented NOIS 4 and the BBC Awarded F-ire Collective, saxophonist and composer Ingrid Laubrock shows an inextinguishable curiosity, testing stylistic boundaries both as composer and interpreter. Her investigative (indeed, forensic) approach to jazz shapes the album from head to toe, dissecting it under a playful scalpel.

Forensic employs the entire kaleidoscope of Laubrock's talents: she plays soprano, alto, tenor, baritone saxophones; she sings; she writes all the pieces (apart from three group improvisations). Still she is a selfless frontwoman: she knows when to step aside, and has that rare gift of being a great listener. All the band (F-ire recruits Ben Davis on cello, Karim Merchant on piano, Larry Bartley on bass and drummer Tom Skinner) are given plenty of room. If, as Dave Liebman would say, the most fulfilling role of a frontman is to guide and enhance one's fellow musicians' progression, then Laubrock must be contented indeed.

In terms of composition she leaps into the choppy waters of avant-garde jazz: a multilayered and spacious improvisational playground for Laubrock. We get zesty, contemporary classically derived high-pitched dissonance; unbounded sheets of sound; post-bop frenzy; post-rockish drumming; dry, minimalist sax riffs; stumbling piano improvs: they are all part of her musical diet.

With this wide, varied dynamic of styles Laubrock is urging us to dare to be playful; and intelligent. Ultimately, to stay curious.

It's a proposition that's hard to resist.

Reviewer: Lara Bellini


01/02/2005 Chris May/All AboutJazz.com

Forensic Darkly beautiful and breathtakingly inventive, Ingrid Laubrock's third own-name album is one of the very best to come out of the UK in recent months, and also the one which heralds the arrival of the London-based saxophonist as a major player on the international jazz stage. Mysterious, moody and close to the edge, Forensic plays like a new take on the noir tradition. It's astringent and shadowy, like you'd expect from noir, but it's also visceral, hot and exhilarating, like you probably wouldn't. A new noir for a new world disorder. The vibe starts with the cover art--a series of “crime scene” type photographs ranging from the enigmatic and vaguely menacing (a burnt-out basement) to the overtly symbolic (the shadow of a sewing machine), plus a remarkable shot showing fire and light exploding wild aura-like around Laubrock's head--and continues through her performances and those of her outstanding band of young London lions. A chorister and pianist in her native Germany, Laubrock took up saxophone on relocating to London as a teenager in '89, studying for a year with Jean Toussaint. Now an assured stylist on soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, her approach--poised and audacious, harmonically advanced, texturally rich and relishing individual and collective risk-taking--carries traces of such diverse players as Coltrane, Konitz and David S. Ware. But it is ultimately entirely her own, both in the tradition and at times riotously out of it. Likewise with her band. Karim Merchant's piano straddles everything from Jelly Roll to the present and recalibrates much of it (on the title track, for instance, he dissects first Monk and then the stride style which informed him). Ben Davis is an awesome, unprecedented delight on cello. Larry Bartley and Tom Skinner are imaginatively muscular, playing inside, outside and around the beat but always driving things forward. Forensic is released on the righteous but fledgling, musician-run label F-IRE, which despite punching well above its weight--other ranking bands who make up its governing collective include Acoustic Ladyland and Jade Fox--is still without proper UK, let alone international, distribution. As a result the album has got kind of lost under the winter avalanche of major label releases and has yet to penetrate much beyond the sharp end of the UK jazz scene. But great art will always make itself heard, and the buzz around Laubrock and Forensic is certain to grow.


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