CD review

Ingrid Laubrock and Kris Davis – “Blood Moon”

Ingrid Laubrock and Kris Davis – Blood Moon

(Intakt Records CD345/2020. Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

“Musically, we are kindred spirits,” says saxophonist  Ingrid Laubrock of her duo with pianist Kris Davis in the sleeve note for this disc. They come from different backgrounds but both are now based in New York where they are prominent participants in the contemporary jazz scene. Kris. the younger of the two, was born in Vancouver, Canada, grew up in Calgary and studied jazz piano at the University of Toronto. She moved to New York in 2001. Ingrid is from a town in Northern Germany near the Dutch border, she studied in London on the Guildhall jazz course, then stayed in London for a further decade and a half after graduation, and was a  key member of the F-Ire Collective in its heyday. She moved to New York in 2008.

The music on this album has that wonderful combination of composition and improvisation where the one moves effortlessly into the other and the listener can never be quite sure where the transitions are. Both players are excellent composers and their musical and personal empathy ensures that the compositions truly bring out the character of the two players. There are, however, some differences in their compositional styles; Kris’ tunes seem quirkier and more likely to play with the form of the piece.

There are 9 tracks, all relatively short in length, and to the point musically. The opening track, the aptly named Snakes and Ladders, is a good example of this with its up-tempo start and then its change towards the end into a much more sombre mood. Flying Embers features a more atmospheric texture-based tune by Kris.

Ingrid’s tunes seem rather more straightforward, somewhat more melodic than Kris’ more rhythmic approach. The title track, Blood Moon, is a case in point; it is an attractive tune that creates a very suitable setting for the improvisations. But this is an over-simplification, and I’m sure that in a blindfold test I would probably not be able to say correctly who composed which tune.

Two of the tracks, Gunweep and Elephant In The Room seem to be totally improvised and it is particularly in these tracks that we hear how well the two players interact with each other. Their improvisations – and indeed the whole album –  have a real sense of freshness and spontaneity,  yet the way they are able to interact and dovetail is remarkable.

This is a very attractive album full of great musical conversation between two fine players.

Blood Moon at Intakt Records 

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