The Engines was a collaborative quartet founded in the spring of 2005. The group began as trio, featuring several mainstays of the Chicago improvised music scene: Dave Rempis on saxophones, Nate McBride on bass, and Tim Daisy on drums. In the spring of 2006, trombonist Jeb Bishop was added to the group for one concert. The dynamic of this lineup worked so well that Bishop immediately became a regular member of the band. The band performed regularly across Chicago at many of the venues associated with creative music including the Empty Bottle, Hideout, Elastic, Hungry Brain, and the Velvet Lounge, and they also toured extensively in the US and Europe from 2006-2013.
All of these musicians distinguished themselves as leaders with their own groups, but formed this band to purposely shirk that duty in favor of a more equal musical relationship that better reflects the nature of their improvisations. Each member contributed original compositions to the group, providing a wide range of expression from high energy jousting over driving bass vamps to quieter moments of melodic exploration. With McBride on both acoustic and electric bass, the band explored some of the sonic textures associated with the early AACM, or could also launch into hard-hitting Zeppelin-like grooves, and they used this range of possibilities to its fullest.
In the fall of 2007, their first self-titled cd was released on Okkadisk. The group toured the US and Canada in December of that year, and followed up with a European tour in the fall of 2008. Their second release, Wire and Brass was a live recording made at Chicago's Hungry Brain in April of 2008, and released by Okkadisk in February of 2010. The band finished a second tour of Europe in support of that release in March 2010. Their third cd, Other Violets was released in March of 2013 on Not Two, and features the legendary saxophonist John Tchicai as a special guest with the group. The band finished a two week, 13-concert tour of North America in April of 2013 in support of that release. After Bishop and McBride both relocated away from Chicago in 2012 and 2013, the band released one more digital-only recording titled Green Knights on Aerophonic Records in late 2015.
Rempis and Rosaly’s studied interplay lends even the most threadbare of skeletal themes a sense of foresight, making this fully improvised session one of the more concise and cohesive dates of its kind. – Troy Collins, All About Jazz
This album's vocabulary is vast! – Walter Tunis, Lexington Herald-Leader
Nowhere are expanded musical possibilities more present and more obvious than on Rempis and Rosaly's new disc, Cyrillic. From extended drones to hyperkinetic frenzies, and everywhere in between, it perfectly encapsulates their live interaction. – Logan K. Young, Columbia Free-Times
Rosaly and Rempis derive much inspiration from the European tradition of improvisation, and their duo work highlights their intention to chart a crossroads where abstraction, swing, and melody all intersect, albeit in inverted and decidedly off-kilter ways. With his frothing rhythmic calculus, Rosaly reaches far beyond the concept of the drum set as mere beat-making tool. Instead, he thoroughly re-imagines the instrument as a highly expressive, multi-faceted, and ongoing conversation with itself. Rosaly creates a dense thicket of sound for Rempis to hack through, and surely enough the pair manages to stir up a great deal of chaos as their trains of thought rub, collide, and burst in the squall. At the same time, the listener never loses the sense that theirs is a true conversation, and the chaos proceeds with an almost well-mannered cadence that recalls the feeling you get when overhearing an engrossing back-and-forth between old friends who know when it's okay to shout and when it's imperative to read between the lines and leave certain things unsaid. – Saby Reyes-Kulkarni, Rochester City Newspaper
Because saxophonist Dave Rempis and drummer Frank Rosaly are half of the splendid Rempis Percussion Quartet, you might imagine you’d only get half as much music from just the two of them. But the duo format actually affords them more freedom to explore divergent styles and dynamic extremes. – Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader
In the words of Jeffrey Tambor as the critic Clement Greenberg in Ed Harris’s film Pollock, "There is no representation, just paint." Or, in this case, just sound. This is free music, but also deliberate, disciplined. Like the action painters Clement Greenberg wrote about, Rosaly and Rempis are acutely aware of the relationship of mark to ground, sound to silence.
– Jon Garelick, Boston Phoenix
One of the 10 best releases of 2009 -Sam De Leo, Denver Post