Ingrid Laubrock Octet/Zürich Concert SWR NewJazz Meeting

Ingrid Laubrock Octet/Zürich Concert - Intakt CD 221 / 2014


  • Ingrid Laubrock Tenor + Soprano Saxophone 
  • Mary Halvorson Guitar 
  • Liam Noble Piano
  • Ted Reichman Accordeon
  • Ben Davis Cello
  • Tom Arthurs
  • Drew Gress Bass
  • Tom Rainey Drums + Xylophone

$16 + pp

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Recording track list

  1. Glasses
  2. Novemberdoodle
  3. Blue Line and Sinker
  4. Chant
  5. Matrix
  6. Nightbus
  7. Der Zauberberg

all compositions by Ingrid Laubrock except #3 by Reichman/Gress/Rainey


Ingrid Laubrock Octet/Zürich Concert: release info

Intakt CD 221 / 2014



Ingrid Laubrock: ss, ts · Mary Halvorson: g
Tom Arthurs: tp · Ted Reichman: acc · Liam Noble: p Ben Davis: cello · Drew Gress: b ·Tom Rainey: dr, xyl

Recorded December 10, 2011, at Rote Fabrik, Zürich. Recording engineer: Wolfgang Bachner, SWR. Sound engineer: Max Federhofer, SWR. Mixed by Elvin Opsvik, mastered by Andrew Tulloch, The Blue Studio, London. Recording production: SWR2 Redaktion Neue Musik/Jazz, Reinhard Kager. Liner notes: Reinhard Kager. Photos: Peter Bastian, Produced by Ingrid Laubrock and Intakt Records, Patrik Landolt.

Intakt CD 221 / 2014

The unmistakability of its voices is one of Jazz’s greatest virtues. Only the one who stands out of the almost bewildering number of piano players, saxophonists, trumpet players, bassists or drummers through his own characteristic sound has a chance of being recognized on an international level. The tradition of Jazz has shown that developing this kind of characteristic musical language in most cases only works in collaboration with experienced artists in the field of improvisation. While legions of young musicians practice their licks at music school, Ingrid Laubrock chose to leave Germany already at the age of eighteen and head for Great Bri- tain in order to find a broader improvisational playing field in the F-IRE collective in London and an experienced private teacher in Jean Toussaint, a former Art Blakey Jazz Messenger.

This courage has been well worth-while. Nowadays Laubrock can be seen as one of the most significant voices of the younger Jazz players. And, furthermore, as one of the most creative. All this with a kind of music which continuously moves back and forth bet- ween the poles of compositional calculation and improvisational freedom: wild and controlled, gentle and enigmatic at the same time, in this respect comparable to the gestures in her playing, driven by an inner energy, which unexpectedly switches between precision and dislimitation. Not uncommonly, this results in thrilling nightmarish scenarios, most notably when Laubrock improvi- ses freely, together with drummer Tom Rainey and pianist Liam Noble, in the trio Sleepthief which, since 2007, has been something of a musical homeland for the musician hailing from the small provincial town of Stadtlohn in the Mun̈ sterland region of Germany.

Curiously enough, this distinctive voice in Jazz was hardly known in her native land while in London she was long-since conside- red an integral part of the rich British improvisation scene and had recorded for the Swiss Intakt label. It was only her performance on the JazzFest Berlin 2007 which aroused the interest of a wider public in Germany. The award of the prestigious SWR Jazz Prize in 2009 was an almost logical consequence.

The result was this particular project for the annual NEWJazz Meeting of the SWR2 Jazz department which culminated in a con- cert at the Rote Fabrik in Zürich. True to the original idea of Joachim- Ernst Berendt, these “Meetings” in Baden-Baden is where musicians come together who have not worked before in these constellations, and develop a new project within the framework of a week-long workshop which is then presented to the public in the form of a short concert tour. It gave Laubrock the opportunity to bring together musicians from her new living situation in New York, where she has been based since 2009, and musicians from London who had already been members of her first large ensemble “nein”. As with her earlier nonet, the trio Sleepthief with the Bri- tish pianist Liam Noble and the American drummer and percussionist Tom Rainey is part of the Ingrid Laubrock Octet. The other members include cellist Ben Davis and trumpet player Tom Arthurs from London. The new octet is completed by three musicians from the USA: guitar player Mary Halvorson who is also a member of Laubrock’s quintet Anti-House, bass player Drew Gress and accordionist Ted Reichman.

This instrumental line up already indicates that for Ingrid Laubrock this project is by no means about standard Power Jazz, but about subtle sound structures. The saxophone player brought eight compositions to the rehearsals in the SWR studio in Baden- Baden, seven of which are to be found on this present CD. With the exception of “Blue Line & Sinker” which is a freely improvised introduction to the composition “Red Hook”, some of the pieces are strictly notated and, due to their complexity – as in the case of “Matrix” – were even conducted (by Tom Rainey). Most of the compositions, however, despite their precisely notated formal struc- tures also leave large open spaces for improvisation. Since these improvised passages developed with more and more gusto over

the course of the concert tour of the NEWJazz Meeting, Laubrock decided to release the more ‘colourful’ Zur̈ ich live concert on CD instead of the perfect studio recordings. It starts with a medley of three pieces: “Glasses” is a subtle improvisation, played by six of

Ingrid Laubrock Octet. Photo: Peter Bastian

the eight musicians on tuned water-filled glasses. Out of the tender glass harmonica sounds, in line with the dull winter weather during the concert tour, a melancholic “Novemberdoodle” develops, determined by the sound of the accordion which remains dominant also in the concluding improvisation “Blue Line & Sinker”. “Chant”, on the other hand, gives guitarist Mary Halvorson an opportunity to play one of her weird distortion solos – which incidentally were totally different on each of the four public performances of the octet.

Whosoever feels that these compositions focus too much on sound processes will get their money’s worth in the second, more rhy- thmically oriented part of the concert. This does in fact begin with finely conceived duets in which the trumpet player Tom Arthurs first plays with drummer Tom Rainey and later with Ingrid Laubrock on tenor, but subsequently leads into this afore mentioned, rhythmi- cally intricate “Matrix”, putting considerable demands on Tom Arthurs, Ted Reichman and Mary Halvorson. It is followed by “Nightbus”, the most ‘groovy’ piece on this recording: a lurching ride through the dark of night, accompanied by a persistently repeating theme. Also the final piece, “Der Zauberberg”, after an initial passage of glass harmonica, has a rhythmical structure, although it is more remi- niscent of Minimal Music than Jazz. And this is exactly what constitutes the strength of Ingrid Laubrock’s music: it is not easily pige- onholed but takes its impulses from the most diverse genres. And this kind of refreshing versatility is exactly what counts in today’s improvised music!

Reinhard Kager. Translation: Isabel Seeberg & Paul Lytton