Birmingham Post – Oriole and Ingrid Laubrock live @ The Glee Club, Birmingham
Clearly, there were challenges to be overcome. The heat had melted the silver screws in Ingrid Laubrock's saxophone ligature, it was extremely warm under the stage lights, and if the air conditioning fan was merely moving warm air around within the Glee Club it was still making quite a noise in the process. On top of that World Cup barbecue hangovers and continuing glorious weather had slimmed the Birmingham Jazz audience to the valiant few. These two bands are from the London-based F-ire Collective and share a number of players, but their characters are strikingly different. We started out in the darker, trickier world of the German saxophonist. Laubrock was recently awarded an Arts Foundation Fellowship for composition and it is easy to hear why. She is pushing hard to find new ways of writing jazz and encouraging improvisation. The accent is not on extensive solos and much more on group interaction and overall structure - not the sort of music where the audience applauds each soloist as they take their turn. Some pieces split the band in two with half taking one theme and the others playing a contrasting line that crosses it, interlocks, sometimes undermines it. There is a dark humour here, a touch of Weill, even when the rhythm is from Brazilian carnival. The overall impression is that a macabre clown lurks somewhere just out of sight. If Laubrock's music has a shadowy, north European feel to it, the music of guitarist Jonny Phillips' Oriole is all southern sunshine. The Spanish guitar roots it, the distinctly Brazilian uses of the electric piano adds further nuance and the drumming of Sebastian Rochford filters all kinds of Latin rhythms through his inimitable style. In both bands, the rich textures offered by harmony lines from tenor saxophone and Ben Davis's cello offer great delight, though Phillips' music indulges them more fully. An excellent and long (exceptionally good value!) evening of some of the freshest sounds in jazz.