Chicagoan longtime collaborators – sax hero Dave Rempis and master drummer-percussionist Avreeayl Ra recorded their duo album «Bennu» in February of 2021 after both of them had been locked down for the entire winter, and neither one having played with another musician for several months. This was the longest break either of them had from performing with others since they first started playing music decades ago. Obviously, this meeting captured the feeling of rebirth and a much-needed joyful reunion but it was also contemplative and ebullient.
Rempis and Ra have solidified their rapport through fifteen years of working together, most regularly in a trio with bassist Joshua Abrams, which later expanded into a working quartet with the addition of pianist Jim Baker. «Bennu» is titled after the Bennu Bird was an ancient Egyptian deity/symbol that was likely the predecessor to the Phoenix of ancient Greece. The Bennu Bird was said to have created itself out of the darkness at the dawn of time. Subsequently, the sound of its call as it landed on a rock while flying over the primeval waters of chaos known as Nun initiated the creation of the world itself. «Bennu» was recorded in one take for an online stream at Constellation in Chicago and is released in a limited edition vinyl of 500 copies in a Rippled Sky swirl-colored vinyl.
«Bennu» begins with a bluesy ballad «Persea», where Rempis, who plays the alto and tenor saxes, and Ra patiently slow-cooking their reflective, conversational dynamics, relating to the recent chaotic events in the US such as the presidential elections and Black Lives Matters protests. «Fire and Ash» intensifies even deeper their telepathic interplay, as both propel melodic veins and polyrhythmic patterns into a fiery, ecstatic dialog. The last «Divisions of Time» goes deeper into the soulful vibe of the opening «Persea» and suggests a meditative plea for a better compassionate world. Throughout «Bennu», Rempis and Ra sound as continuing the most inspiring lineage of spiritual free jazz, channeling their art to say a lot about our chaotic world and motivate a positive change, and clearly offering some hopeful light to the current dark times.
Dave Rempis (as, ts), Avreeayl Ra (dr, perc, v)