By Peter Margasak | Published July 2019
By expanding his pool of collaborative constellations, Chicago reedist Dave Rempis has found a variety of contexts in which to explore his fiery improvisational aesthetic. And there’s no shortage of heat produced on The Early Bird Gets, his first recording with the trio of New York bassist Brandon Lopez and Chicago percussionist Ryan Packard. On “Archae Opteryx,” upper-register tenor cries braid with piercing bowed screeches over a distant bed of choppy electronic tones, courtesy of Packard. During his early days in The Vandermark 5, Rempis betrayed a Lee Konitz influence that seemed to vanish over the years, but it pops up here and there, singing bright-toned, boppish melodies on the closing track, “Gansus.” And although his baritone lines at the start of “Raho Navis” are wonderfully brawny and jagged, there are moments of Serge Chaloff’s mentholated cool that break through. Frequently, though, the trio privileges a rhythmically ferocious approach that leaves plenty of room for buoyant exchanges. On “Confucius Ornis,” the band contracts and expands around the groove, embracing sleek propulsion and muscular stomp at the drop of a hat, reminding us that countless attacks are easily within reach.
The Early Bird Gets: Crypto Vo Lans; Raho Navis; Archae Opteryx; Confucius Ornis; Yan Ornis; Neo Aves; Gansus. (50:55)
Personnel: Dave Rempis, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Brandon Lopez, bass; Ryan Packard, drums, electronics.