Chicagoan sax hero Dave Rempis’ trio with cellist Tomeka Reid and double bass player Joshua Abrams, all experienced composers and bandleaders in their own right, may be considered a strings trio but its free improvising dynamics are far from being a chamber outfit. Allium (a genus of monocotyledonous flowering plants that includes hundreds of species, as the cover art designed by Lasse Marhaug, demonstrates) is the sophomore album of this working trio, following Ithra (Aerophonic, 2018), and was recorded at the Elastic Arts in Chicago in January 2022.
The nine short pieces, all titled after plants, highlight the deep and conversational rapport that this leaderless trio has established and its organic way of transforming its immediate and spontaneous interplay into instant compositions with total clarity, sense of purpose, and assurance. The dynamics of this trio are always thoughtful and always in service of developing further the music. Each piece explores its own sonic territory, just the title of the album suggests, with like-minded voices and colors.
You may notice immediately the great focus, deep listening and tension in this trio interplay. Rempis’ sax tone, which is usually fiery and loud, adapts itself to the subtle, high register extended bowing techniques of Reid and Abrams and employs its own extended breathing techniques and often sounds reserved and introverted. But there is always a strong sense of risk-taking in the way Rempis, Reid and Abrams sketch each piece with nothing predictable or familiar in their playing. Miraculously, each piece finds its own inner logic and loose but surprisingly poetic structure. And as Rempis concludes so wisely: «this artistic statement carries meaning much greater than just the sounds you hear, delving deep into the ethical, political, spiritual, and philosophical underpinnings of their unique process».
Dave Rempis (as, ts), Tomeka Reid (c), Joshua Abrams (b)