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Tom Rainey: Obbligato

Obbligato opens with a joke: Drummer Tom Rainey and company are in such a hurry to be “Just in Time” (on the Jule Styne classic) that they begin at full speed, seemingly in mid-tune, awash in open-ended improvising. When they finally do get (back) to the melody, they offer a mere snippet of it and stop in their tracks, ready to take apart another tune.

Indeed, this set of reconstituted standards, performed by a group that doesn’t play them often, is full of offbeat moments. The band includes pianist Kris Davis, trumpeter Ralph Alessi, tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and bassist Drew Gress, who have played together so often, in varying combinations, that they can pick up on each other’s signals and alter their course at will.

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