Reprint from Downbeat Magazine
3/31/2014 – by Bradley Bambarger
John Coltrane’s sonic seeking in the months prior to his death in 1967 continues to inspire musicians today. On March 24 in New York City, the Evolving Music series (presented by Arts for Art) hosted “An Evening in Interstellar Space: Remembering Coltrane,” a concert featuring three jazz duos that aim to keep the questing flame alive.
The husband-and-wife pairing of Laubrock and Rainey—who play together and apart in myriad bands—concluded the night with a set that also served to mark the release of their first duo album, And Other Desert Towns (Relative Pitch), as well as to cap the saxophonist’s monthlong residency at Clemente Soto Vélez. Laubrock is a dauntless player—unafraid of paint-stripping skronk, for better or worse—and a sharp conceptualist. The veteran Rainey again proved that he is one of the world’s master drummers in this idiom.
Touchingly, the couple beamed at each other as one dramatic duo composition came to life after the other, the performance audibly impressing a crowd filled with aficionados. With loose-limbed virtuosity, Rainey drew music from all parts of his kit—rubbing the drumheads, rustling his sticks and mallets together, even drawing tones from the drum stool; meanwhile, Laubrock summoned an almost theatrical sound, crying, sighing and moaning through her instrument.
The aspect of ritual was evoked: Laubrock, with a sink-stopper in the bell of her horn, whistled through her tenor as if it were a griot’s quietly keening flute, with Rainey’s bass-drum bombs like the punctuations of a rite. The two conjured a whole aural world with their set, an ideal tribute to Interstellar Space.
Tom Rainey (left) and Ingrid Laubrock onstage at the
Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center in New York City on March 24.
(Photo: Peter Gannushkin