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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Tom Rainey Trio @ The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle - Jan. 22

Tom Rainey (drums); Ingrid Laubrock (alto sax/soprano sax); Mary Halvorson (guitar).
(Review by Lance/Photos courtesy of Ken Drew - link).

I occasionally dispense with the safety net and check out what's happening at the pointy end. One set is usually enough before I head to the hills or, to be more precise, the nearest bar bemoaning what these infidels have done to the music that I have loved for so long.

I feared last night might well turn out to be more of the same and I'm pleased to say I was totally wrong and in complete agreement with the crowded upper room at Newcastle's Bridge Hotel who gave this transatlantic trio a resounding roar of approval after the opening improvisation.

No tunes, no absurd titles, just free playing. The two girls, master technicians, wove intricate patterns around each other driven on by Rainey's drumming. At times powerhouse, at other times subtle and inventive.

In retrospect, I shouldn't have expected anything less given that Halvorson is invariably at the top, or the near the top in several sections of the annual DownBeat polls including, naturally, best guitarist. Laubrock also charts in the saxophone sections whilst Rainey deserves to be right up there. 

Dissonance was at a minimum - some might class that as a criticism  - but when it did emerge it sounded just right for that moment in time. Laubrock had frequent bursts leaving us in no doubt that she could play, her solos often totally consisting of harmonics - those notes that you won't find in your A Tune a Day saxophone tutor! At other times she just breathed into the instrument and all you could hear was the sound of pad against brass.

For me this was almost a "Damascus moment" and I very much enjoyed this latest JNE promotion. I look forward to the next one - Joe McPhee (Feb. 2).
Lance.

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