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Dave Rempis: Communication, Improvisation and No Screwing Around

By Published: August 7, 2006
AAJ: Good thing, and it's a boon for the listener. These are now the venues that I check weekly for live music. Without this, I don't know what there would be.

DR: Yeah, right. One thing we've also tried to work on is just making the information more readily available and hopefully accurate. There are some great listings like Savage Sound (, with all the improvised music gigs happening in town. The website we're curating,, is more limited to the venues where we're booking shows, but we try to make sure that it's up to date and accurate—which is often not the case with the larger listings, since they have to incorporate so much.

AAJ: No, they often get the dates right, but they almost always get the personnel wrong.

DR: Yeah. It's pretty challenging to compile all that information unless you have the time to do it, basically.

AAJ: All of these venues and series have worked together to offer a real combination of Chicago's improv musicians—both the so-called North Side and South Side players—and a lot of visiting European players as well. Besides that, is there any philosophy to the bookings besides just presenting good improvisational musicians?

DR: I think that's the core directive. We are really trying to incorporate a wide range of people who are playing on these series, whether it's up-and-coming artists or famous visitors coming in from New York, or Europe, or wherever it might be. I think for all of us, we all are either up-and-coming or have gone through that phase of our careers. I know some people gave me some breaks when I was younger, and I got the opportunity to play, which is really how we learn our stuff. So I think we're all pretty aware of trying to provide gigs for everyone across the spectrum.

AAJ: I know you've also been working on the 2006 Pitchfork Festival, which is a whole different realm. Do you see yourself continuing to do this sort of larger-scale or rock-based work?

DR: Yeah, possibly. I'm working here more on the logistical side of it, rather than on the programming side. But its being a somewhat part-time position a lot of the year, and then being a sort of seasonal thing with one main event that we focus on, has the potential to fit in well with my musical schedule. I can go on tour for six or eight month of the year, and come back and do this for a while.

AAJ: What else are you going to do this year?

Dave RempisDR: In July, I'm taking some time off, because of my work helping to organize the Pitchfork Festival; that's kind of my day job right now, and it eats up a fair amount of time. I'm recording with the Engines, keeping the Percussion Quartet going. In the fall, I'll be doing some work with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, the bassist who has a quintet with some Norwegian guys. It sounds like Jeff Parker's going to join the group, so it'll be me, Frank Rosaly, Ingebrigt, Jeff Parker and a Norwegian violin player whose name I can't remember at the moment. We'll probably be doing some work and possibly touring Chicago in September. We'll probably do a short tour with the Engines in the fall.

We have some Vandermark 5 work coming up—actually, we're going to Malaysia in November. I've never been to Asia before, so that should be pretty amazing! It's the beginning of a tour that will take us to Europe as well, so that'll probably be [laughing] some horrible, horrible jet lag! I'm not quite sure how that's going to work out yet. From the sound of it, we may end up circumnavigating the globe, so that should be interesting.

I'm going to work on finding a label that's interested in putting out one of these live shows we did on the Percussion Quartet tour, and then perhaps try to tour again in the spring with that group. And the Territory Band is doing some work in Chicago in August. We're doing a concert in Millennium Park, and we'll probably be up in Milwaukee and a few other connected gigs around Chicago.

Selected Discography

Territory Band-4, Company Switch (Okka Disk, 2006)
Rempis Percussion Quartet, Rip Tear Crunch (482 Music, 2006)
Triage, Stagger (Utech, 2006)
Vandermark 5, Free Jazz Classics, Vols. 3 & 4 (Atavistik, 2005)
Vandermark 5, The Color of Memory (Atavistic, 2005)
Dave Rempis/Tim Daisy, Back to the Circle (Okka Disk, 2005)
Rempis Percussion Quartet, Circular Logic (Utech, 2005)
Vandermark 5, Alchemia (Atavistic, 2005)
Territory Band-3, Map Theory (Okka Disk, 2005)
Dave Rempis Quartet, Out of Season (482 Music, 2004)
Vandermark 5, Elements of Style, Exercises in Surprise (Atavistic, 2004)
Triage, American Mythology (Okka Disk, 2004)
Territory Band-2, Atlas (Okka Disk, 2003)
Triage, Twenty Minute Cliff (Okka Disk, 2003)
Vandermark 5, Airports for Light (Atavistic, 2002)
Vandermark 5, Free Jazz Classics, Vols. 1 & 2 (Atavistic, 2001)
Vandermark 5, Acoustic Machine (Atavistic, 2001)
Territory Band-1, Transatlantic Bridge (Okka Disk, 2001)
Triage, Premium Plastics (Solitaire, 2001)
Vandermark 5, Burn the Incline (Atavistic, 2000)
Vandermark 5, Simpatico (Atavistic, 1999)

Photo Credits

Color Photo: Cees van de Ven
Triage Photo: Lee Moore

B&W Photos: Joel Wanek

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