The release of «Sud Des Alpes» is a cause for celebration. It is the tenth album of the long-standing working band The Rempis Percussion Quartet – sax player Dave Rempis, drummer Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly and Norwegian bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (who joined the Quartet on its sixth album, «Montreal Parade», 482 Music, 2011, and replaced Anton Hatwich). The album was recorded live at AMR in Geneva, Switzerland in March 2019 during the Quartet’s 15th-anniversary tour. It is also the thirtieth album of Rempis’ independent label, Aerophonic. And, obviously, «Sud Des Alpes» captures the Quartet in its top form.
The titles of the three pieces of «Sud Des Alpes» tell about the Quartet’s misfortunate travel to Geneva when its train lost the use of its brakes and blocked train travel all over Switzerland for several hours, much to the embarrassment of the exquisitely punctual Swiss nation. The Quartet survived this ordeal, not before Håker Flaten had to carry his suitcase and enormous bass flight case up and down the stairs and through the narrow aisles in eight double-decker train cars to reach the sole evacuation point at the far end of the train, and from there to another train that took the Quartet to Geneva. This experience did not affect the compelling performance of the Quartet. These four resourceful improvisers act like a close family and harness their shared history to create musical interactions of uncommon depth, and yield an ever more refined version of their shared vision.
The Quartet slowly builds its powerful, rhythmic grind on the opening «There’s a Jam on the Line». Beginning with the percolating, polyrhythmic patterns of Daisy and Rosaly, continuing with the mighty and often fiery bass playing of Håker Flaten, the tireless locomotive who always keeps the Quartet on its toes, and to the soaring, soulful blows of Rempis. All four improvisers know how to hold the core together, dive into massive, driving grooves, but also employ the individual dialects for tension building. The second piece is composed of a cover of The Art Ensemble of Chicago’s classic «Theme de Yoyo» (from the score «Les Stances a Sophie», Pathé-Marconi, 1970) and the Quartet’s «Evacuation». The Quartet channels the addictive funk-meets-free-jazz version of The Art Ensemble of Chicago into its own infectious rhythmic grind, including with a drums solo of Daisy and Rosaly, and another powerful and driving bass playing of Håker Flaten, adopting the role of Malachi Favors and pushing Rempis, Daisy and Rosaly forward and higher. Rempis sets the urgent tone of the last «Late Arrival», soon contradicted by the bowing work of Håker Flaten, and the free pulse of Daisy and Rosaly. But somehow this tension is employed by the Quartet first into an explosive and ecstatic improvisation and later into a quiet and lyrical invocation, both segments filter out the tasking travel experiences.
Another day on the road. Another triumphant survival. Another great album of The Rempis Percussion Quartet.
Dave Rempis (as, ts), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (b), Tim Daisy (dr), Frank Rosaly (dr)