By Aaron Cohen | Published December 2019
Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock and pianist Aki Takase initially performed together at Jazzfest Berlin in 2016, and they turned that encounter into ongoing spirited dialogues three years later for their first duo disc. As with Takase’s recent solo album, Hokusai, and Laubrock’s small group albums, they unravel a series of sudden twists throughout a set of brief compositions. Serious technique supports that surface playfulness here, as does a warm mutual empathy.
With writing credits evenly divided, both Laubrock and Takase make the most of contrasting their runs with perfectly timed hesitations. Along with the mutual and quick-thinking blur of improvisation and composition, Laubrock’s higher-register flights set up a contrast with Takase’s darker rumblings. That combination becomes especially clear on “Chimera,” with Laubrock’s held notes descending to a great use of breath at the coda.
Some could connect Takase’s oblique forays to particular contemporary European free improvisers, and similarly, Laubrock’s oblique angularity sometimes recalls her mentor Anthony Braxton. But a big part of the joy in this disc—the title roughly translates as “haze”—are its playful and unknowable mysteries.
Kasumi: Kasumi; Andalusia; Brookish; Chimera; Harlekin; Dark Clouds; Scurry; Sunken Forest; Density; Win Some, Lose Track; Poe; Carving Water; One Trick Paper Tiger; Luftspiegelung. (50:07)
Personnel: Ingrid Laubrock, tenor saxophone; Aki Takase, piano.