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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House - Roulette of the Cradle (Intakt, 2015) ****½

By Paul Acquaro 

Roulette of the Cradle, the latest release by Ingrid Laubrock's Anti-House - an ever expanding elite group of New York improvisors - begins with a solo drum. It soon switches to solo slide guitar, which then collides into the piano for a climatic ending.

The following track, 'Roulette of the Cradle', continues this game, and one wonders if in fact if there is an order or not, or just how the passages were scripted, if at all. It's hardly a question even worth pondering as the series of passages, passing from musician to musician, build up with a lurching intensity. The song that eventually emerges, with pianist Kris Davis leading the way, is a driving uptempo piece.

The Anti-House woodwind section has been enhanced with the inclusion of clarinetist Oscar Noriega, which creates a whole new set of choices and options for the group. Convoluted and intertwining, the musical lines of the title track lead knowingly into 'Face the Piper, Part 1', which begins lightly with Laubrock favoring the upper register of her soprano sax and Halvorson plucking out choice notes to shadow her. During the track, John Hébert's bass slides about thoughtfully in the background, along side Tom Rainey's rumbling percussive textures. The sonic landscape they create is unique - small crescendoing hills and meandering melodic brooks dot the horizon, until they reach 'Part 2', where they enter what I'll call the valley of dry bones. Here, Rainey's stick work and Halvorson's unvarnished tone deliver an introduction that keeps going until the the sax and piano breaks things up with a unison melody. 'From Farm Girl to Fabulous, Vol 2' apparently picks up from where 'Vol 1' ended on Anti-Houses' last recording, Strong Place. The tune showcases a sound-collage oriented side of the group - but not without also rocking out fabulously. Finally, 'Red Hook' benefits from both playfulness and pathos woven into its composition.

The compositional approach on Roulette of the Cradle brings together the best aspects of each musician's playing. It's most likely safe to suppose that they have all worked together enough now to interact purely on an intuitive level, but more so than just improvising, there is an arc and progression to the songs that speak to the leader's compositional prowess as much as the individual contributions. 

A highly recommended recording, no doubt! 


Martin Schray said...

The video link on youtube doesn't work on my computer (maybe it doesn't work in Germany at all because of the GEMA-youtube fight here). If it doesn't work on other computers as well, you can try this one:
Very good album, by the way, there is a real development compared to the other Anti-House recordings.

Paul said...

Thanks Martin - I updated the post with the Bandcamp preview. - Paul

Steve P. said...

This is definitely a must have recording. This is a true jazz super group in the making.