Ingrid Laubrock’s Anti-House: London, UK, January 18, 2011
Rainey was a revelation. His prowess is well known, but it was nonetheless an education to witness how he not only rendered odd timbres with exactitude, but how he then assembled them into bursts of off-kilter swing. When needed, he manifested a controlled ferocity, as with his whipcrack interjection on "Quick Draw" heralding the knotty theme. Whether circling explosive patterns around his drum set, sizzling on cymbals or rubbing his wetted fingers across his drum heads for a booming sigh, he combined power and precision in one casually virtuosic package.
Laubrock shone even in this company. Although capable of breathy asides which would have pleased Ben Webster, she displayed a fondness for the sort of distorted tones which might have caused him to look rather more askance. Here she mixed false fingered shrieks with muffled cries and even stranger strategies, as when she removed the neck from her horn and blew directly into the body for a whooshing whistle, only to deftly replace the neck and mouthpiece for the next section. While she can shriek and overblow with the best, it seemed that this was just one more style deployed when required, rather than the default mode.
Special guest pianist Liam Noble joined for the third number, adding another layer to the absorbing complexity, taking the role filled by Canadian pianist Kris Davis on the group's CD. His inventive piano thickened the arrangements and extended the textural range, as when he answered Rainey's silvery tinkling glockenspiel with plucks on the piano strings on "Funhouse Glockwork." Unfortunately, I had to leave for the last train after just one piece from the quintet, but the show was recorded for BBC Radio 3, so there may yet be chance to taste what I missed as well as savor what I heard. And that would be very good, as this was a performance which could bear repeated listening.
All Photos: John Sharpe