Brooklyn-based saxophone and drum duo meld composition and improvisation seamlessly | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Brooklyn-based saxophone and drum duo meld composition and improvisation seamlessly


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Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and drummer Tom Rainey have been married to each other since 2010 and playing together since 2007, working as a duo as well as within larger ensembles, where they’ve collaborated with avant-garde jazz musicians such as Tim Berne and Mary Halvorson. Though the duo initially focused on improvisational music, a 2016 tour inspired them to incorporate more composition into their work. This is evident on their third album, 2018’s Utter (Relative Pitch), which is largely improvised but adds three composed pieces: Laubrock wrote “Chant II,” and the two of them collaborated on the opening and closing tracks, “Flutter” and “Shutter.” “Flutter” opens boldly, with muffled gurgling and breathing through a saxophone over rustling drums that could be mistaken for radio static or vinyl crackle. The two voices gradually build, until Laubrock’s measured honks seem to instigate cascades of pounding drums. “Shutter” shows off a different side of their compositional voice—instead of stringing together cues and figures, it features ostinato saxophone melodies and drum grooves that tug at each other. At this show, Laubrock and Rainey will be improvising freely, but even to the trained ear, their musical conversations can be hard to classify definitively as either composition or improvisation—they ride the line, thanks to the rapport they’ve built playing together in countless contexts for more than a decade.   v

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