Combine German-born Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock with New York luminaries Mary Halvorson, Kris Davis, John Hebert, and Tom Rainey, and the result is almost guaranteed to please those with an ear for the exotic. Nonetheless, on this release, her second as a leader under the Anti-House moniker, Laubrock goes to lengths avoiding the conventional.
It is sometimes difficult to separate her charts from the group’s improv, as the two styles blend almost seamlessly. Laubrock seems to have a telepathic link with Halvorson and Davis, as the three women avoid playing on top of each other even though they mainly play at the same time. Rainey is in rare form on this release, his dexterous drumming a constant factor, fitting whatever tone is set by his bandmates.
The first track, An Unfolding, begins with Laubrock holding notes while the others contribute punchy chords and motifs. Eventually, Laubrock solos over their contributions, resulting an a fresh, spontaneous feel. From Farm Girl to Fabulous Vol. 1, on the other hand, features the caustic chaos of a Halvorson intro, followed by Davis laying down lines complemented by the rest of the group. Perhaps the most “out” piece is the title track, featuring strong bass from Hebert, and spiky disconnects throughout.
While this release isn’t blatantly experimental, Laubrock pushes her cohorts into the uncomfortable, left-of-center places in which they shine. A prime example of contemporary “New York creative jazz,” many rewarding listens will be necessary to discover its treasures.