You’ve worked with Tom Rainey before on the album And Other Desert Towns, how is your latest album with him different?
“Tom and I have worked together since 2007. We play in a number of groups and have played a lot of composed as well as improvised music together – our duo being one of them. Both And Other Desert Towns and Buoyancy are freely improvised. The second duo album Buoyancy was recorded at the end of a 17-date tour which took us all over the US, as far north as Minneapolis, then south to New Orleans via Tennessee and Alabama and west to Texas and New Mexico with many stops along the way. It was an unforgettable journey, both personally and musically speaking – it made me feel much more at home here.”
“Our penultimate concert was at a venue called Audio for The Arts in Milwaukee, which is a recording studio with enough space for a live audience. It was really great to have had the chance to capture the music after so much playing together, it had grown and matured and feels very intimate, yet still fresh to me.”
You’re appearing together at the Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival. What can we expect to hear?
“Hopefully you can’t expect anything in particular, as we’ll improvise and want to keep the element of surprise. But we have been working on writing our next record. At the moment we are rehearsing for it every day a bit like a rock band would – we write together and memorize as we go along, as we don’t want to have any paper on stage. The plan is to play this material on our next tour which starts at the end of September and covers San Diego to Seattle all along the west coast of North America. You never know, maybe some of this material will find its way into our concert in Brighton.”
What challenges and rewards are there from playing as a duet with just drums?
“Tom Rainey is such a master, he makes the drums sound like an orchestra, I don’t usually feel the lack of anything when I play with him. But the challenge is the same there always is – keep it moving and hopefully interesting. In a duo, this takes a lot of focus, energy and creativity.”
You’ve lived in Germany, London and New York. How do they compare?
“I grew up in Germany but wasn’t a musician when I left and lived in a very small town, so that sets it a little apart. I loved living in London and all the different scenes I worked my way through, trying to learn as much as I could. I also have so many friends and memories there, it’ll always be a special place for me. I miss a lot of people/musicians who live there. I think the main difference between London and NY is that the scene in NY is a lot bigger. Musicians from all over the States as well as from abroad flock to NY, even if only for a while, so there is a constant flux – that part feels healthy. That happens in London too, but to a lesser extent. On the downside, the balance between ‘supply and demand’ is even more out of whack than in other cities else, there is literally no support for artists or low-income earners and the city is really expensive. A lot of musicians here have day jobs.”
Tell us about the different projects that you’re currently involved with.
“I have a new record coming out in November, called Serpentines, which is also the name of the band. I am super excited about it as I was able to put a dream septet together for it – Craig Taborn, Tyshawn Sorey, Peter Evans, Miya Masaoka, Dan Peck and Sam Pluta. They are all amazing musicians and played great on the album! This November, a quartet version of my group Anti-House is going on a European tour – that group features Kris Davis, Mary Halvorson and Tom Rainey and we’ll be playing new compositions. I am also currently working on my second orchestra piece, which is slowly coming into focus.”
“Over the past few years, I have been extremely blessed to perform a lot with Anthony Braxton, in all sorts of formations ranging from quartet to opera. Apart from our duo and my own groups, I play in many bands I am really excited about – Mary Halvorson’s Octet, Kris Davis’ Capricorn Climber, Tom Rainey Trio + Obbligato, Nate Wooley’s Battle Pieces and Perch Hen Brock & Rain among them. There are also two new trios, both just recorded. Stephan Crump (b), Corey Smythe (p) and myself is one of them, a trio of three soprano saxophonists: Jon Irabagon, Dan Blake and I the other.”
What plans do you have for the future?
“I am happy to be back in the UK in April 2017 with my trio Sleepthief with Tom Rainey and Liam Noble and a tour for my quintet Ubatuba is being planned for May 2017.”
“The orchestra piece I am working on is going to be performed at a major European festival in June. The piece involves a classical orchestra, vocal ensemble and a cast of chosen improvisers from here. Unfortunately I can’t talk about the details yet, but will include them on my website when the festival announces its program early next year.”
Ingrid Laubrock and Tom Rainey appear at The Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival on Friday 9th September at The Old Market, Hove.