Dave Rempis Solo
Performing solo is one of the biggest challenges facing any improviser. It’s the most exposed and revealing setting for a musician, and presents a unique set of problems. Without other musicians to respond to and interact with, the improviser is left to discover a vocabulary completely of their own creation. Following in the tradition set by Coleman Hawkins and Eric Dolphy, along with living masters of the solo saxophone such as Anthony Braxton, Joe McPhee, Evan Parker, Mats Gustafsson, and Ab Baars, Rempis has made the seemingly unwise decision to attempt some solo performances of his own over the last few years. Aside from several solo engagements in Chicago, he’s also performed solo during two tours of Europe in 2011 and 2012, with concerts in Berlin, Poznan, Warsaw, Krakow, and Paris. In the spring of 2017, Rempis undertook an extensive thirty-one date solo tour of the United States to develop this work further, and to establish connections with improvisers in each city he visited by performing with local musicians in every locale. The working title of this project was “Lattice,” also the name of his first solo recording which came out int fall of 2017 on Aerophonic Records.
I recall an interview with a lionized baby boomer saxophonist, who told the story of listening to side one, and only side one, of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965). He was reluctant to turn the LP over (this was in the pre-digital era), thinking side two could never match the majesty of "Acknowledgement" and "Resolution." One could have a similar experience with track one of saxophonist Dave Rempis' Lattice. His six-minute take on Billy Strayhorn's "A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing" is presented as a sort of hallucinatory purr, or dream. Rempis shepherds his baritone saxophone with an intimacy of breath that turns the listening experience into a bit of voyeurism....The notes to this recording indicate these tracks were culled from 31 concerts recorded in 27 cities. Let's hope there is a second volume forthcoming! -Mark Corroto, All About Jazz
Regaling listeners in a recent podcast conversation, trumpeter and erstwhile Chicagoan Jaimie Branch waxed warmly about saxophonist Dave Rempis and more specifically his long-standing role as a linchpin of that city’s improvised music scene. Similar impressions abound. Stories of Rempis’ generosity and self-effacing efforts for others are as common as the gigs that seem to reliably pack his calendar. That proven ability to foster and amplify connections feeds right into the aptly named Lattice while creatively reflecting the converse condition as well....Solo improvisation is naked expression. Rempis isn’t the least bit ashamed to exhibit his art sans accompanying attire. -Derek Taylor, Dusted
Lattice, the product of his extensive tour and the 14th album on his own label, frames Rempis' aesthetics within the great legacy of solo sax improvisations. Rempis acknowledges the seminal influence of sax greats Coleman Hawkins and Eric Dolphy and of innovative, living masters such as Anthony Braxton, Steve Lacy, Evan Parker, Joe McPhee, Ab Baars, and Mats Gustafsson. The recording, culled from several live performances from the latter half of the second leg of this solo journey, offer multiple perspectives for playing solo - on the alto, tenor and baritone saxes. Altogether these improvisations sketch an informal, yet complex artistic network in Rempiss - and the listener's - mind; a lattice. -Eyal Hareuveni, Free Jazz Blog
Chicago reedist Dave Rempis is well established as one of the city’s finest improvisers, a player who can adjust and adapt to fluid, unexpected musical situations with stunning alacrity, sensitivity, and ingenuity. But his ability to live in the moment doesn’t mean he’s not a thinker and a planner. Rempis has developed a strong practice as a musician through years of toil and focus, and he looks at the big picture with wide-eyed vision. In his liner-note essay for his recent album Lattice (Aerophonic) he admits that he took his time to enter the fray as a solo saxophone improviser, remarking on the lineage of artists that have excelled in the format. He finally took the plunge this past spring, embarking on an extensive U.S. tour that allowed him to both share and sharpen his solo performance skills. He also engaged in the kind of community building that’s made him such an important figure on Chicago’s scene as a key figure behind Elastic Arts; most of his 31 solo sets among 27 cities he visited were complemented with collaborative performances with local musicians. The sometimes fiery, sometimes pensive performances on Lattice reveal the value and rigor of his approach. The percussive pops, rude snorts, key clacking, and tightly coiled upper-register sallies of “If You Get Lost in Santa Paula” and the high-octane blasts, split tones, and screams of “Loose Snus” both convey the kind of muscular, paint-peeling aggression Rempis is known for. He’s one of the loudest saxophonists I’ve ever heard, but it’s the more gentle, more lyric side of the collection that has kept me most riveted. The album opener, a surprising rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s ballad “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing,” is suffused with tender patience and a foggy tonal aura, its melody emerging from sibilant clouds of sound. “Linger Longer” expresses its lyric soul both directly and through elaborate circular breathing, which creates mosaic-like constructions of glimmering tones. -Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader