Early Bird Gets
"The Early Bird Gets is the debut album by this working trio, comprised of journeyman Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis alongside two of the brightest talents in a younger generation of improvising musicians. Bassist Brandon Lopez is a musician whose virtuosity knows no bounds, currently one of the most in-demand bassists on the New York jazz and improvised music scene. Percussionist Ryan Packard counters that depth with his own breadth of interests, working in contemporary classical ensembles, indie rock bands, and jazz groups alike around Chicago, not to mention his doubling abilities on electronics. These two together provide a formidable rhythm section that can veer from hard-driving grooves to luscious soundscapes with total ease. As a trio, these three have put forth a work that may be the “jazziest” project any of them are involved with; a result that even the band members found surprising. But after honing their sound through live gigs in 2017 and early 2018, it became apparent that their free-improvised conversation kept returning to a similar destination: a three-way exploration of rhythm and tempo that left them working solidly within the jazz tradition. Not the one fixed into predictable sylistic corners, but the one defined by a spirit of boundless curiosity and exploration. A tradition they stretched back and forth like so much taffy. "
"In the summer of 2013, guitarist Joe Morris decided to thoroughly acquaint himself with the vibrant Chicago creative music scene. Although he’d worked with plenty of Chicago musicians over the years, including regular collaborations with percussionist Hamid Drake and reedist Ken Vandermark, it had been many years since Morris had spent any significant time in the city. So he undertook a series of concerts, organized by Vandermark, which placed him in a number of different contexts alongside many of his Chicago-based counterparts, including this string-heavy date at Elastic Arts. From the start, this ad-hoc quartet took advantage of an unusual instrumentation to produce some austere and starkly beautiful music. Each member contributes quickly interweaving lines that occasionally burst to the fore, but tend more often to wrap themselves into one other, hiding in plain sight amongst the unified whole. Cloaking their individual timbres into a sinewy mass, the result is a tight and fascinating exploration of contrapuntal improvisation."
Hit The Ground Running
"On the traumatic day after the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States on November 8th, 2016, a recording session had been scheduled at Elastic Arts in Chicago for a new trio. Two members of the trio – Dave Rempis and Tim Daisy, had been working together in various contexts in the Chicago improvised music scene for years. They were invited by up-and-coming piano wunderkind Matt Piet to be a part of an ongoing series of first meetings that he’d released on his Amalgam imprint. (This recording soon came out as Cure For The Quotidian) The feeling in the room, in the city of Chicago, and around much of the United States was dark in a way no one had ever before experienced. The music that came out that day was an honest and direct expression of that energy. Afterwards, Piet threw out the idea of a benefit concert to coincide with the new “president’s” inauguration. Daisy spearheaded the charge, and put together a stellar event at Elastic Arts on January 21st, 2017, the same day as the monumental Women’s March that took place around the world. The concert featured a solo set by Darin Gray, the debut of Ken Vandermark’s new quintet Marker, the duo of Ben Lamar Gay and Ayana Contreras, and this trio. The energy of that evening was indescribable – the packed room felt defiant yet loving, angry yet calm, fearful yet fully empowered to take on the new reality of the unimaginable political situation in our country. And the music from each group reflected those feelings in a different and powerful way. "
"This collaborative trio featuring three mid-career artists with deep roots in the Chicago improvised music scene puts forth a stunning and austere debut, a chamber-like exploration in which their three voices intertwine seamlessly into one multi-headed unit. Although each member is no doubt comfortable as a soloist, with significant leader credits under each of their belts, here they shirk that approach in favor of a music that is unflinchingly interactive and group-oriented. In this context, solo explorations don’t drive the music, but instead the sum of the three parts together delivers an unstoppable momentum recalling the type of egalitarian interactions pioneered by the trio of Jimmy Giuffre, Paul Bley, and Steve Swallow in the early 1960’s. The resulting pieces, each one a thoroughly unique and cohesive landscape, deliver a strikingly clear example of what’s possible when musicians with broad interests in all types of contemporary musical expression combine their aesthetics in a non-genre and non-stylistically bound approach. Rempis, Reid, and Abrams deliver a wholly original sound on this recording, straddling the intersections of free improvisation, contemporary classical, jazz, and folk musics from around the world, without being contained by the precepts of any one of those influences."
"This transatlantic trio combines musical sensibilities derived from their experiences in two world capitals of improvised music, Chicago and Amsterdam. Rempis and Rosaly, both longtime staples of the Chicago scene, have partnered for more than 15 years, most significantly in the Rempis Percussion Quartet and Rempis/Rosaly Duo. The two met guitarist/bassist Jasper Stadhouders at the Moers Festival in 2009 where the three shared a stage on the legendary “morning sessions.” Despite being only 18 years old, Stadhouders was a presence to be dealt with, his energy and aesthetic already developed into a cohesive whole. "
"There was nowhere to hide during this recording session, every note staring back at its creators with fearless eyes. And the resulting musical tension is palpable, as the band tosses ideas up into the air between them, and sets them spinning off into the ether, each one on their own unique path. credits "
The Chicago Reed Quartet
"Four generations of Chicago saxophonists join forces in this collaborative quartet, each one separated in age by almost exactly ten years. This wasn’t a calculated decision when Rempis and Vandermark first brainstormed the idea of the group in late 2013. The lineup came together based purely on the musical affinity of the personalities involved. (Oddly enough, Mazzarella and Williams had also been discussing the idea of forming a saxophone quartet at that time). However, the complex web of musical collaborations between these four musicians in countless combinations dating back twenty-five years, as well as their differing perspectives on composition, improvisation, and the instruments themselves, combine to reveal a truly cross-sectional perspective on the Chicago improvised music scene. Although an unintended consequence of the lineup that Rempis and Vandermark initiated, this accidental result may be one of the most intriguing perspectives from which to look at the quartet’s music. These eight pieces, two compositions from each of the band members, were workshopped extensively in 2014, with regular rehearsals and concerts in Chicago throughout the winter and spring. This recording was made mostly in one day, all in single takes, on a laid-back, closed-door, summer afternoon session at Chicago’s Hungry Brain. And within these eight pieces, one can hear an ongoing artistic dialogue that stretches back for decades."
"This particular recording was made over two nights in December of 2012 live at Chicago’s legendary Green Mill Cocktail Lounge as part of trombonist Jeb Bishop’s 50th birthday celebration, and it does a great job of showing these tactics at work. Although in this context – a packed weekend house at a more traditional “jazz” venue - the band opted to begin each improvisation with one of their tunes, you can hear them employ these arrangement tactics over and over once they make it through the first lap. So although you’ll hear a couple of the same compositions performed from one night to the next, that material is sandwiched in between the other pre-composed material in drastically different ways with no pre-conception or roadmap of what might come next. "
The Rempis Percussion Quartet
"Interestingly, as each member’s path diverges further, the quartet tours that take place once every year or so provide the backdrop by which to measure those tectonic shifts. The music on Cochonnerie demonstrates exactly that type of shift, without moving an inch. A band that hasn’t played a gig for over a year convenes in Chicago to get reacquainted over two nights at the start of a two-week North American tour in the fall of 2015. But the idea of having a warm up period flies out the window as these four dive in fearlessly as ever. Whatever the difference in the sonic output may be on this record compared to previous outings, their fundamental commitment towards reconciling individual ideas into a coherent and compelling sound is exactly what continues to fuel the laser-beam focus and relentless energy on display here. "
Cash and Carry
The Rempis Percussion Quartet
"On August 31st, 2014, The Rempis Percussion Quartet celebrated its tenth year in existence with an increasingly rare hometown concert at Chicago’s venerable Hungry Brain, a bar whose dark, relaxed, and frequently hard-drinking atmosphere helped to define more than a decade of the Chicago improvised music scene. The band had cut its teeth with regular performances at the Brain in the mid-aughts, but sadly, this would be the last time they hit the stage before the bar’s impending closure at the end of 2014. To up the stakes a bit further, that night also marked the end of the 2014 Chicago Jazz Festival. As usual, the multitudes of fans and world class musicians visiting for that event packed in with the Chicago regulars to hear what the local guys might deliver on their home turf. The band didn’t disappoint. The talking ceased immediately as they hit the stage, channeling the significant emotional energy of the evening directly into two sets of fiery music, once again taking the reins as one of the hardest-hitting bands to emerge from the Chicago scene in the past decade. On this document of the night’s festivities, you can hear the group dive in face first, working over every facet of the simple melodies and grooves that form the underlying basis of their extended improvisations, tearing them apart, and reconstructing them in a multitude of new ways."