LOCATION: the Mothlight AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Dave Rempis
Rock-n-Roll is a young man's game. Most pop stars over 50 are required to remind everyone why they matter whilst simultaneously not embarrassing themselves or tarnishing their legacy. Jazz, though, has a model more based on apprenticeship. Truly talented, unknown phenoms are rare beasts. Most up-and-comers are over 30, having spent a decade or more gigging as sideman with a wide variety of more established players.
For 12+ years, Dave Rempis was best known as a member of the Vandermark 5, which he joined in 1999. Since I was an avid follower of Ken Vandermark from my years in Chicago, I've been hearing Rempis' playing for well over a decade. He's been leading groups since the turn of the century but I took serious note of his extracurricular activities upon hearing Ballister, his trio with avant-cellist Fred Lonbgerg-Holm (fellow V5 alum) and the ubiquitous free jazz drummer, Paal Nilssen-Love (the Thing). From there it was off to the races—I've tried to keep up with his release schedule ever since. Rempis' duo with electrician Lasse Marhaug made my best-of-2014 list, and I've been keen to catch him live (again) for some time.
Where his old boss, Ken Vandermark, seems to have sworn off touring the US in favor of the more hospitable climes of Europe, Rempis has taken up the 'get-in-the-van-and-drive' mantle. I caught him this night, on a solo trek across the country. Rempis can be a fiery saxophonist—with a vocabulary full of loud honks and pinched squeals—but like many bombastic free players, he shows a more melodic side when playing solo.
Any sense of narrative within the tune, invention or change in dynamics and texture are all down to the individual, making a solo performance a rite of passage for even the most accomplished player. It's a test Dave Rempis passed easily. I mean, he's been training for this for years. I look forward to hearing the album these nights on the road were workshopping towards.
NOTES: Dave Rempis; Tashi Dorji