field report no.100419

LOCATION: the Mothlight AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Kuzu

OBSERVATIONS:
Dave Rempis is a latter-day free jazz ambassador. A prodigious collaborator, he’s one of the only members of his storied Chicago jazz scene who still regularly tours the country (as if he were some kind of indie-rock band). Which is how Kuzu came to be, the trio of Rempis with the Asheville duo of guitarist Tashi Dorji and Taylor Damon. I’ve seen Dorji often: Asheville has a very small scene. If you’re going to any advanced jazz show, it’s a good bet Dorji’s is a part of one of the warm-up acts.

The Kuzu combination brings more out of Dorji—he’s seems more giving. It’s possible Rempis raises the game or at least provides a fresh sparring partner. Live, Dorji was even more nuanced than on record. Perhaps without Rempis amplified, Dorji dialed it back giving everyone more room to hear. Damon was also impressive—placing bells on his drum heads he evoked gamelan in one sequence, (and still managing to hit some of the drum head as well). Each of the players was pliable and intuitively responsive this night.

NOTES: Kuzu (Dave Rempis, Tashi Dorji, Tyler Damon); Bruce Lamont; Kevin Hufnagel
PRESENT: AMS

field report no.100317

LOCATION: the Mothlight AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Ballister

OBSERVATIONS:
A mere six months after catching Dave Rempis solo, his long-running trio, Ballister, rolled through Asheville. The group features fellow Vandermark 5 alum, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello and tenor guitar, as well as the ubiquitous Norwegian, Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. Ballister's is a powerhouse sound, cast in the mold of bombastic FMP-era groups, but after 8 albums and 7 years of touring, they've developed a nuanced communication only well-heeled bands have access to.

In this raucous context, Rempis dips into his gut-bucket skronk more than he did on the solo set. Lonberg-Holm frequently plays the wildcard, pushing the trio over the precipice, sawing at the cello and running it through guitar pedals for a metallic edge. Nilssen-Love, for all his power, never just pummels his kit. He punctuates, deftly finding open spaces, even in an all out scrum.

NOTES: Ballister; Omnicaster
PRESENT: AMS

 

field report no.042417

LOCATION: the Mothlight AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Dave Rempis

OBSERVATIONS:
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
PRESENT: AMS