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On the Record with Tom Rainey

"When it comes together and it starts feeling really compositional, that's really kind of a satisfying experience."

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Drummer Tom Rainey played with numerous cutting-edge jazz musicians in New York before stepping out as a leader five years ago. He's currently on tour as part of an improvisational duo with his wife, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock. Each night, they play a set that's completely improvised on the spot.

With this duo, or any improv group, is there any discussion before you go onstage?

There's very little discussion about what we're going to do [beforehand, or] really, about what we've done afterwards. Other than, "That was really fun," or, "I had a hard time." There's no scheme. When it comes together and it starts feeling really compositional, I think that's really kind of a satisfying experience for us. I think audiences get that, too, because every night is a premiere. It's a piece of music that's never been played before.

Do you ever try to rework something from the previous night?

I try not to. For the same reason: Then you take it out of the moment. When something works really well, it's really tempting to try to recreate, but it never really seems to work out.

How does your personal relationship with Ingrid impact the music you make with her?

Consciously, it doesn't seem to really affect me. When we're playing, she's a musician and I'm a musician. Hopefully, it brings some depth to our interaction. We're pretty serious about what we do. That takes over when it comes time to play music.

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