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Ingrid Laubrock - The Last Quiet Place (Pyroclastic)

30 March 2023

Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock is one of a thriving group of modern jazz iconoclasts – musicians who see tradition as a starting, not an end, point, and aren’t afraid to get free and freaky when moved to do so. She’s joined on The Last Quiet Place (title inspired by author Elizabeth Kolbert) by several fellow travelers: cellist Tomeka Reid, violinist Mazz Swift, bassist Michael Formanek, drummer Tom Rainey and rules-ignoring guitarist Brandon Seabrook. On songs like the title track, “Chant II,” and “Grammy Season,” Laubrock lets her crew pick and claw at the tunes, finding their own way through her wandering melodies whether they clash or caress. The string players saw, Seabrook scratches, and Rainey clatters, all while Laubrock spurts and soars and Formanek holds the center in place. None of this makes the music a free-for-all, mind you – it’s unclear whether Laubrock is guiding them towards her end goal through gentle coaxing or sheer force of will, but she’s definitely got them going in her preferred direction. The result is a splendid mutation of avant-garde jazz and string quartet (duo?) sounds that nods to free jazz tradition, but comes off like no one’s vision but Laubrock’s own. The Last Quiet Place sounds like a really fun place to be.