Announcing the latest release from Dave Rempis’ Aerophonic Records, an aptly titled double CD, The COVID Tapes. Here’s an excerpt from Dave’s excellent liner notes:
“…the Hyde Park Jazz Festival (for which I also work as a producer…) invited Joshua Abrams to present an outdoor concert as part of their “Postcards” Series. He convened our trio with Tomeka Reid for this on August 14th, and we scouted out a location at a park two blocks from my house in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Seeing how well it worked, I continued this Friday evening series for the next two months. I mostly worked with Tyler Damon as a duo, sometimes adding Joshua on bass, and once adding Bill Harris for a double drum lineup. Matt Butchko, who I would refer to as a “superfan” of the music, generously came to each concert with the same portable mobile setup that he uses regularly at venues, with two small bud microphones positioned on top of his baseball hat. He managed to get good-sounding recordings, even outdoors. A huge debt of gratitude goes out to him for being there right up front for these and so many other concerts.
One of the interesting benefits of playing outside is evident on these recordings: all of the great background noises that play into the improvisations. Check out the overwhelming swells of sound from the chorus of cicadas, the punctuation of passing cars on Lake Shore Drive, and the cardinal calls at the end of the trio with Abrams and Reid for example. Or the truck beeping as it backs up at the end of the duo with Tim Daisy. Or the barking dog that passes through during the trio with Abrams and Damon. Those events all became a part of the music, and they’re presented here without any effort to filter them out, to give a better sense of what the experience of these concerts was actually like.”
Getting together for these impromptu shows and playing directly for an otherwise-atomized community week after week kept a fire in my belly through this mind-shattering time. I had always wanted to bring my music into the public sphere for the fun of it, anyway, so this was a perfect opportunity. I hope the music contained herein offers you respite like it has for me, a model for what is possible for live music even when barriers emerge for everyone in every direction. Preorder here:
Artwork by Robert Beatty.
What is there to report? On the bright side of things Kuzu (Dave Rempis / Tashi Dorji / yours truly) has a new LP out on Astral Spirits entitled The Glass Delusion. Classic Chicago record shop Dusty Groove says:
“Kuzu is fast becoming one of the more compelling settings for the saxophone talents of the great Dave Rempis – as the blend of sounds here really sets things apart from other improvised combos, even though the elements are all very familiar! Tashi Dorji has a way of handling the guitar that creates lots of sharp edges and bold moments – much fiercer than the legacy of improvisers like Derek Bailey or Fred Frith – and really full-on at moments when the drums of Tyler Damon take off! Rempis is as deft at these moments as he is in some of the sparer, more open passages – blowing alto, tenor, and baritone on the two long tracks on the record – “It Simply Becomes Jammed” and ‘Gnash.'”
Thanks to homie Robert Beatty for providing the excellent elemental artwork for the LP. Robert was at the very first duo show Tashi and I ever played (as well as one of the last Kuzu shows pre-COVID and many in-between) and it’s a pleasure to have his exceptional artwork gussy up the sleeve. I have copies available for those interested – drop me a line over at the CONTACT page if you’d like to order directly…
There is some hope that I will be playing some dates in Europe in August and November of this year and should have more information on that soon. For those interested, keep an eye out on my LIVE page…
I’ve “gone dark” as they say; you will no longer find me shamelessly self-promoting or offering graceless, pedestrian opinions on any social media platforms. This beacon, along with my Bandcamp page, seems like enough online presence to me. Content nausea hit me hard during the lost year. I’m trying to break out of the corner instrumental reason put us in and can no longer justify use of these platforms that flatten discourse & creativity and so on…
I did participate in a handful of online streams since this all started; I lacked the resources / know-how to do this effectively and ultimately found it diminished my work under these circumstances (the exceptions being the incidentally streamed outdoor sets Rempis & I did last year). I’ve felt little or no motivation to correct this, either. The idea of being more effectively online is, well…repellent to me. About as appealing as learning to code or joining the military. Being an “artist” at this juncture feels more like being a process manager or administrator, and I’m not sure I have the stomach for that path…certainly not the desire. It reminds me of the old Mitch Hedberg joke:
“Alright you’re a stand-up comedian…can you act? Can you write? Write us a script. They want me to do things that are related to comedy but not comedy…that’s not fair. It’s as though I was a cook and I worked my ass off to become a good cook and they say, ‘Alright, you’re a cook – can you farm?'”
It’s true, it isn’t “fair,” not that fairness is relevant or even matters. Another disruption some will bend to and some won’t, though if this is the New Way™ I might just stick to playing drums for people in my direct vicinity. That said, participating in well-executed live streams with technologically knowledgeable operators at the helm was a pretty-alright experience (as a stand-in for the visceral nature of live music with an audience physically present) and I’m grateful for their efforts. Thanks to Nolan & Ed at Constellation & Ben at Elastic for hosting a couple of first-time outings with me on the tubs (a trio with Gerrit Hatcher & Joshua Abrams and a quartet featuring Mars Williams, Brian Sandstrom & Steve Marquette):
Both units plan on having a future together, so keep an ear to the ground if you find promise in either of the above ensembles…
“Tim has recently been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease (EOAD). Over the past 2-3 years, his symptoms have become more defined, affecting his ability to recall words and concepts and express himself verbally. He has issues with concentration, using technology, and spatial and simple math problems. After two years of medical testing resulting in an unclear diagnosis, Tim and Erica sought help from the Mayo Clinic. The doctors there believe EOAD is the best fitting diagnosis at this time.”
I was and am deeply saddened to hear this news. Beginning with his (unfortunately defunct) DIY performance venue, Louisville’s Dreamland, Tim was incredibly encouraging to me as a young musician trying to find my place in the broad world of free / experimental music and the effect it had on my development is incalculable. I can only imagine that if you ask around you will hear countless stories from other artists about the profound impact he had on them as well. I have witnessed it enough first hand to know this is true. His solo CD All Acoustics, released on his own Quakebasket label in 2002, remains a strong, unique statement in the realm of solo percussion almost two decades later and is held in high esteem by drummers ranging from Chris Corsano to Glenn Kotche. I could go on about Tim’s wide ranging contributions to independent music in general, but would rather encourage you to listen for yourself and, if you’re able, to please donate to alleviate some of the burden on Tim and his family:
Lastly, my longtime friends/collaborators/cohorts at Indianapolis’ Medium Sound label have released their first “sheet music” compilation with a small contribution from me. My “piece,” a kind of map of my work from 2018 entitled Successes & Failures Both Public & Private is featured amongst “…sheet music and visual scores from Gnat Bowden, Tyler Damon, John Collins McCormick, Mac Blackout, Nick Yeck-Stauffer, Jordan Munson, Mark Tester, and Landon Caldwell.” It is available to order here: https://mediumsound.bandcamp.com/merch/medium-sound-sheet-music-one
Thanks for checking in. ‘Til next time…
April 17, 2021 [permalink] Astral Spirits, blog, Brian Sandstrom, Constellation, Dusty Groove, Elastic Arts, fundraiser, Gerrit Hatcher, Joshua Abrams, kuzu, Mars Williams, Medium Sound, Mitch Hedberg, modernity, Robert Beatty, Steve Marquette, stream, Streaming, streams, Tim Barnes
Photo by Ricardo Adame. Margate Park, Chicago, September 2020
Dave Rempis and I have been shaking the rust off for about an hour every Friday evening over the past month, hitting on occasion with Josh Abrams on bass. Setting up on Chicago’s north side adjacent to Lake Michigan, we have been performing for friends and strangers alike and have relished the opportunity to do so safely during the pandemic. Dave has been streaming these via his Instagram page if you’d like to check them out: @daverempis
Ken Vandermark wrote of one performance:
“Jazz On A Summer’s Day 2020: Thanks to Dave Rempis and Tyler Damon for bringing challenging music to a safe place to listen on Friday afternoon, August 21st. It was a beautiful day and a group of listeners, masked and safely distanced, met to hear the duo under a canopy of trees in the park near Foster and Marine Drive. Based on the current circumstances and projections on the near future, it looks like this may be one of the only viable ways to make live music possible in front of an audience sharing the same space for a while. Much appreciation to Dave and Tyler for giving an example of how to work through this period as a musician, and for playing with passion under challenging circumstances.”
Many thanks Ken!
Photo by Ricardo Adame.
To Catch A Bird In A Net Of Wind, my latest LP with Tashi Dorji released this past April on Austria’s Trost label, was recently reviewed in Wire Magazine #440 in conjunction with a broader feature on Tashi’s excellent new LP on Drag City, Stateless. Marc Masters reports:
I hope you’re all staying sharp of mind and healthy in body and spirit.
With no end in sight, and the unavoidable prolonging of this tragedy due to the criminal negligence and inhumane cruelty of many of our alleged leaders (and the spineless kowtowing to mounting fascist power of the so-called “left” establishment), it is difficult, nay impossible, to predict when we might all be able to (safely & responsibly) commune again for the sake of music and camaraderie.
That said, here are a couple of new quartet releases from March and May of 2019 recorded here in Chicago which exist solely in the digital realm to hold you over until we can get back to in-person communion (click titles or album art for links):
Michael Foster – soprano & tenor saxophones
Dave Rempis – alto, tenor & baritone saxophones
Jason Roebke – upright bass
Tyler Damon – drums/percussion
Recorded live at Hungry Brain, March 17th, 2019 by Dave Zuchowski.
Joshua Abrams – upright bass
Tyler Damon – drums/percussion
Forbes Graham – trumpet
Ava Mendoza – electric guitar
Recorded live at May Chapel, May 4th, 2019 by Dave Zuchowski as part of Dave Rempis’ Exposure Series. Mastered by Weasel Walter. Artwork by Forbes.