«The Early Bird Gets» is the debut album of a new working trio of Chicagoan prolific sax player Dave Rempis – known from other groups as Ballister with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and his Percussion Quartet with bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, featuring New York-based double bass player Brandon Lopez, who recently played as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, and fellow-Chicagoan percussionist Ryan Packard who doubles on electronics, working in contemporary classical ensembles, indie rock bands, and jazz groups.
All three musicians have accumulated extensive experience in free-improvised formats but this trio found that its improvised interplay is drawn again and again to ecstatic jazz realms. And that this trio actually excels in exploring different aspects of rhythm and tempo, moving fast and organically from tight and hard-driving grooves to independent, luscious soundscapes. This trio revisits and updates the legacy of seminal sax trios, beginning with the acrobatic solos of Sonny Rollins and concluding with the nervous and brutal assaults of Peter Brötzmann.
Still, this trio take its groove very seriously and with no intention to adhere to simple rhythmic conventions, but as something to turn upside down, inside out, and ass backwards, as they expose every last facet of it. The trio enjoys riding on the high-energy and hard-swinging grooves of «Crypto Vo Lans», «Raho Navis» and «Gansus» (all pieces are titled after prehistoric winged dinosaurs and predators birds). But it can also search for more lyrical and abstract manners to express its rhythmic alliance on «Archae Opteryx» and «Neo Aves», where Packard adds electronics to the minimalist sonic palette, and it can dive deep into the soulful fire of «Confucius Ornis».
Rempis himself may be considered as a kind of «early bird», compared to the younger Lopez and Packard, But all three musicians happen to be a new breed of firebirds, ready to set a volatile and fiery groove at any given time, as long as this fire will keep the rhythm swinging.
Dave Rempis (as, ts, bs), Brandon Lopez (b), Ryan Packard (perc, elec)