Wheelhouse was formed in the summer of 2005, when bassist Nate McBride first relocated from Boston, and was looking for some similarly-minded musicians to work with in Chicago. Originally formed with the idea of playing compositions, the band moved away from that tack in 2008, deciding to pursue a free-improvised approach instead. The slow simmer of the band’s development has allowed for an almost telepathic empathy between these players. All notable soloists and leaders on their own, in this context they pursue a more group-oriented sound where a leader emerges and retracts in unpredictable ways. Additionally, the lack of a drummer provides more sonic space and exposes many of the melodic and harmonic interactions that arise in the group, providing a setting that can move from passages that are remarkably austere, to ones that are highly energetic and dense. Their long-overdue debut recording, Boss of the Plains was released in May of 2013 as one of the first two recordings on Rempis’ own Aerophonic Records imprint.
The Wheelhouse album unfolds as a series of small epiphanies. It's the overdue debut release of a band that formed eight years ago, and has had plenty of time to find its footing. Mr. Adasiewicz, with his ghostly overtones and lightly clanking effects, provides the sonic glue, but all three members of the group are thinking critically about timbre and silence, and Mr. Rempis, playing baritone as well as alto saxophone, deploys a slippery narrative logic. -Nate Chinen, New York Times
A stunning piece of work – The record's intimate, entirely improvised chamber jazz underlines Rempis' foundations in bopon tune after tune, he explodes his buoyant, fast-moving bebop licks into starbursts of energy and abstraction, his bright, slightly acrid tone coarsening into a blistering squall. On certain pieces the three players work like a collective, cooperating to create propulsive masses of sound, while on others they focus on deft interaction. Adasiewicz's resonant note clusters fill the sound field with billowing harmonies, which McBride grounds with his bass; between them they give Rempis plenty to build on. -Peter Margasak, The Chicago Reader
The drummer-less trio invites stillness as its fourth member. Rempis delivers with a stoicism, eschewing volume for eloquence. He plots a patient path, blowing breathy passages and considerate extended technique. He cuts loose just once on “Song For Teens” spitting rapid fire notes against the pounding vibes and heavier plucked notes of Mcbride. When he swaps out his alto for a baritone saxophone on “Song Heaven,” the swathe of sound registers deep within the solar plexus. Both Adasiewicz and McBride act as resonant partners, delivering echoing passages to fuel the dream. -Mark Corroto, NYC Jazz Report