TOM RAINEY TRIO – Pool School

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Theoretically led by drummer Tom Rainey, this trio is a democratic affair involving him with saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock (on tenor and soprano) and guitarist Mary Halvorson. The general feel is one of complete improvisation, though I’m not aware if pre-composed structures were utilized at some stage. The musicianship is obviously top-notch; no time should be wasted anymore by repeating how both Rainey and Halvorson – in different periods – have characterized the respective instruments’ evolution in recent (or less) times. On the other hand, Laubrock is a first meeting for this reviewer. It’s a pleasant discovery, a reedist who’s not gazing at her image in a mirror and does not try to resemble anyone else, interested as she is in clever melodic development and contrapuntal interrelation more than in becoming a hyper-technical clone. The twelve pieces range from nervous circularity in moderately spastic pulse-fracturing (Rainey’s wrist control is downright scary) through relatively delicate exchanges in which the artists recur to the softer nuances at their disposal to create intriguing superimpositions of moods. A piece such as “Three Bag Mary” probably represents the kind of stuff that is going to attract the largest crowd of curious observers: starting with jumpy angularity bathed in gawky straightforwardness, it ends with the scattered fragments of a still-to-be-created hymn to the absence of a better definition. With its recipe of atonal snippets that sound coherent as a planned investigation, and apparently easier paths that instead hide a good number of traps, Pool School is not that easy to appreciate right away. Patience and attentiveness are the keys to the revelation of an unpretentious flair.

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