The second volume by this collaborative quintet follows up on the limited edition, LP-only release Of Things Beyond Thule Vol. 1 that came out in February 2020. It presents the remainder of the material performed at a familiar Chicago haunt on a warm and intimate night in December of 2018, performed by a like-minded cross-generational grouping of stellar improvising musicians. In comparison to volume 1, a long-form piece in which slow development and pacing took precedence, the band brings the fire on Volume 2; one that burns magnesium bright.
This extraordinary lineup came together almost by chance. Nilssen-Love was in Chicago after finishing a US tour, and he and Rempis, frequent collaborators for the last 15 years, planned a duo concert for the Sunday night Transmission Series at the Hungry Brain. When Rempis spoke with long-time friend and collaborator Tomeka Reid and found out she’d also be in town, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, and the duo became a trio. Brainstorming a bit further, Rempis and McPhee had been talking for years about doing a project together. McPhee’s longstanding relationship with Nilssen-Love in their duo pairing and as a guest with The Thing made the idea even more logical, and the trio became a quartet. Finally, Rempis knew from several years of regular work with New York bassist Brandon Lopez that he would be the perfect voice to round out this remarkable quintet.
On this volume, McPhee’s love for simple melodies, and a staggeringly gorgeous sound on every instrument he touches, still brings the outing by the quintet into quick focus. But on these pieces, you hear the damn burst, as Lopez and Nilssen-Love unleash their ferocious power as a rhythm section. Reid dives back and forth into those waves, sometimes digging in deep as a section member, and sometimes riding on top as provocateur. Rempis takes the opportunity to utilize his full arsenal of sound, at times hitting the accelerator, and at times wrapping his lines around McPhee’s stark melodies to create lush harmonies full of cinematic and pastoral beauty.
And of course, McPhee. Joe is someone who plays only when he feels compelled to do so. He’ll sometimes stand on stage for the lion’s share of a set and not play a note. But when he does, watch out. He’ll bowl you over by surrounding you in that warm dark tone. A velvet curtain wrapping itself around you, the picture of elegance and wisdom where a single phrase interjected at the end of a piece can bring it all together as one.
Of Things Beyond Thule vol. 2 is a must own for fans of these musicians – a telling insight into the give and take of five individuals asserting themselves as forces to be reckoned with, while never losing sight of their collective mission. A genuine understanding of how to be responsible to and for one another.
Aerophonic Records is a 100% artist-run label created by well-known Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis (Rempis Percussion
Quartet, The Engines, Ballister, Vandermark Five) to document his ongoing work. His intent with the label is to give him more direct contact with his audience, more control over how his work is presented, and more synchronicity between touring schedules and recorded output....more
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So happy to see a new album from this band. I've long been a fan of Mazurek and Parker's work in Tortoise, on top of the CUQ... Anyhow, if you're curious about contemporary jazz, this is a terrific place to start.
Two fifths of the acclaimed group Irreversible Entanglements create a revolutionary LP celebrating Latin and Afro-Caribbean influences through intricate drum and brass arrangements. Bandcamp Album of the Day Oct 21, 2020