There is something sudden and immediate about Ingrid Laubrock‘s music. Her percussive style of playing tenor sax, her quick attacks, and her keen awareness of where her sound is in relation to her band mates together manifest an in-the-moment feel.
It is a rare treat to hear Laubrock’s trio, Sleepthief, with drummer Tom Rainey and London-based pianist Liam Noble, perform in New York City. Last night at Korzo, the three musicians played four superb originals. The first piece opened gradually with the three players and then featured a sophisticated duet between Rainey and Noble that exhibited direct rhythmic forays as the two built off of each other. As Laubrock rejoined them, the piece took a relaxed, contemplative turn, benefiting from the saxophonist’s full sound. The irregular pulse of the music was refreshingly original and made great use of Rainey’s diverse talents.
The second piece again climbed to the apex, with Laubrock making vertical ascents and plunges over the pulsating and shifting rhythms underneath. The song contained numerous exclamations from all three musicians while maintaining tight execution. After such an exertion, the third piece adopted a more playful feel with Rainey utilizing wine and water glasses in addition to his drums, to provide a bright, fresh sound. The song was churning with conversation between the three who despite an intimate knowledge of each other, seemed to continue to explore and create new avenues of insight and understanding.
The last song had a translucent quality as each musician spread their sound out like butter over bread. Laubrock played parts of the piece without a mouthpiece, producing an array of microtones. The piece then gradually evolved into a shimmering interchange between the three that receded into silence.
Laubrock continues to reach ever higher in her live performances which are always multifaceted. As living organisms, her songs constantly defy standard dimensions in each and every micro-moment, by growing and moving in multiple directions at the same time.
Sleepthief plays again next Tuesday, June 25, at Spectrum for two sets at 8 and 9:30 pm. If you were unable to see last night’s performance, make sure not to miss this trio before Noble returns to the UK!