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Ingrid Laubrock: Ubatuba

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With four weighty, gnarly horn stylists (and her husband Tom Rainey on drums), Ingrid Laubrock gives new meaning to the phrase “heavy breathing” on Ubatuba. Indeed, the lead track, “Any Breathing Organism,” opens with a series of long gusts through saxophones (Laubrock and Tim Berne), trombone (Ben Gerstein) and tuba (Dan Peck), only some of which animate notes from the instruments. It is a different approach for Laubrock, who is accustomed to composing on, and playing alongside, a piano. In the brief liner notes to Ubatuba, she says she wanted something more “polyphonic … like a big living organism washing over the listener.”

Mission accomplished. While each of the six songs are marvelously differentiated, all share a visceral connection to the diaphragm-and to the connective tissue of Rainey’s creative clatter. “Homo Diluvii” delivers a series of horn voicings that come and go like images from a projector, before sliding into a pleasantly pulsating cacophony that fans of Berne will recognize and love. “Hiccups” doesn’t give the terse eruptions its title suggests, but neither is there the sort of braying that seems inevitable in what sounds like a spirited group improvisation. By contrast, “Hall of Mirrors” feels the most through-composed, a chamber-brass piece with a spatial sense akin to Henry Threadgill’s Air. “Any Many” revels in dynamic contrasts of caterwaul and quietude, and the closer, “Hypnic Jerk,” is a 16-minute suite of playful cavorting and moodier fragments, plus a wonderful but brief solo from Rainey.

Laubrock, a 45-year-old German native, has become increasingly adventurous since coming to the U.S. in 2008. Her work in Paradoxical Frog and Anti-House marked her as a force to be reckoned with. Ubatuba ratifies that reputation with unique, tactile music that pricks the senses as much as it piques the intellect.

Originally Published