Album reviews

Ingrid Laubrock/ Tom Rainey/ Brandon Lopez – ‘No Es La Playa’

Ingrid Laubrock/ Tom Rainey/ Brandon Lopez – No Es La Playa

(Intakt Records CD 376. Album Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)

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Ingrid Laubrock, originally from Germany, studied in the UK, was a key member of the F-Ire Collective in London where she also led her own groups before relocating to New York.  She has become one of the most inventive improvisers and composers on that scene, often in partnership with Tom Rainey, originally from California, who is the contemporary jazz drummer in New York working with the likes of Tim Berne, Fred Hersch and many others. Bassist Brandon Lopez is from North-Western New Jersey, has a Puerto Rican family heritage and is another major presence on the New York scene, “working at the fringes of jazz, free improvisation, noise and new music,” according to his biography.

The very comprehensive notes in the CD booklet tell us that their trio came together in 2017 in a small gig at Barbes, an atmospheric bar in Brooklyn with a rather less atmospheric back room.  It was immediately apparent that something special had happened that night, and the three players resolved to continue playing together. 

The result is this CD from the Swiss Intakt label.  The music is totally improvised with six tracks of medium length rather than one extended improvisation as is often favoured by free improvisers.  This is entirely appropriate for a CD, and there is a pleasing variety in the moods of the different tracks with one or two more towards the free jazz end of the improv spectrum with others at the improvised music end.  The first track of the album, the title track, begins with an extended note played on Laubrock’s saxophone backed by repeated rhythms from Lopez and Rainey, but gradually the mood changes into a highly interactive swinging improvisation with a groove. 

The second track, When The Island is a Shipwreck, has a different vibe; it begins with a bass intro before Laubrock enters with a high pitched note on the saxophone (tenor, I think).  This is followed by a passage that features a rumbling sound with saxophone and bass almost in unison accompanied by interesting patterns on the drums.  About half way through the track the tempo increases and the trio moves into a full on blast which winds down nicely at the end.  Overall there are some intriguing sounds on this track. 

This pattern is followed on the rest of the tracks with movement between more idiosyncratic sounds and more upbeat melodic and rhythmic passages; this often occurs within a given track.  The final track, The Black Bag of Want, is a good example of how the music changes direction within the track.  Above all, this CD provides an excellent example of a trio who clearly get on well together, and of how this translates into a brilliant interactive set of music.

The album is released today, 18 February 2022

LINK: No Es La Playa at Presto Music

No Es La Playa at Intakt Records’ Bandcamp Site

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