"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. "
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. "
Dave Rempis Solo
"Dave Rempis is a mid-career artist whose deep roots in the Chicago improvised music scene have by now stretched themselves out across the world through his multiple ongoing collaborations. But he waited a long time to put out this first solo recording. Highly aware of the singular statements in this context put forth by artists such as Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Joe McPhee, Evan Parker, Ab Baars, and Mats Gustafsson to name just a few, left him wary of taking this challenge on too soon. But in the fall of 2016, the time felt right. So he decided to combine the development of a unique solo vocabulary on his instrument into the larger goal of exploring and expanding the crucial network of artists, presenters, and fans that support improvised music in the United States. In the spring of 2017, he brought the idea to fruition by undertaking a massive journey across the country, performing thirty-one solo concerts in twenty-seven different cities, while also collaborating with local artists at each stop. This singular odyssey gave him the opportunity to delve methodically, night after night, into his own process towards solo improvisation. Those labors are documented on Lattice."
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. "
"The sixth release by Ballister, recorded live at the renowned Café Oto in London in March of 2015 finds a well-honed working unit that's settled into the deep groove of their stride on a long tour. Exactly halfway through the journey, on the eve of Rempis’ fortieth birthday, the band bursts out the gate screaming, spewing fire and ash into what might have otherwise been a quiet Monday in London. Although the band and these players are often characterized as working in “improvised music,” or “jazz,” or some other equally insufficient moniker, this music rocks in a way that “Rock” hasn’t in years. The trio’s rhythmic drive drags the listener along face first, at times with flat-out abandon, and at times in lurches and spurts. But overall trajectory for this concert, and this group generally, remains full speed ahead with no time to look back."
Rempis/Abrams/Ra + Baker
"This sophomore release by the working trio of Dave Rempis, Joshua Abrams, and Avreeayl Ra shows a band doubling down on the slow, patient approach to improvising that characterized their first release, 2014’s Aphelion. The trio continues to pulsate, expanding ever outwards, yet returning to a central core each time to launch their next adventure. The live sets presented on this new two-disc set document that musical expansion and contraction within the trio, but also take things a step further as the band adds enigmatic keyboardist Jim Baker to the fold as a special guest for disc two. Baker’s a logical choice to meet up with these three; his own trio with Abrams and Ra, although a sporadic grouping, dates back to the early aught’s, and he’s worked with both in countless other contexts across many years. Similarly, a multitude of collaborations between he and Rempis date back to the late 1990’s. On Perihelion, these two overlapping circles spiral seamlessly into focus to demonstrate the gravitational strength of a central core built by decades of shared history."
"This debut release by the working trio Gunwale matches veteran Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis up with two of the brightest up-and-coming stars from the next generation of Chicago improvisers. While Packard is known mostly for his extensive work as a composer and percussionist within the thriving contemporary classical scene in Chicago, Wildeman has achieved notoriety for his meteoric rise from novice instrumentalist to one of the busiest players around after relocating from the Netherlands in 2011 to immerse himself in this city’s broad-shouldered sound. With these varied backgrounds the two contribute noticeably fresh perspectives to the ever-evolving local artistic dialogue. As a trio, their voice is stark, and clear, combining a love for driving blasts of energy with a sensitivity to the smallest details, leading to music that can be a freight train one moment, and an insectoid microcosm the next. These intuitive abilities make sense when one considers the trio’s rare commitment to several months of weekly rehearsals before their first performance in December of 2015, a tradition they still continue when all three members are in town. So while Polynya may document a band in its early stages, its laser-beam focus leaves no doubt that these three know precisely where they’re headed."
"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."