The second disc by the Chicago collaboration known as The Engines is a live date recorded at the Hungry Brain in April of 2008. Each player, a talented leader in his own right, adds equal measure to create music that dodges inside and out of composed direction and free form improvising.
Originally organized as a trio by saxophonist Dave Rempis (the yin to Ken Vandermark's yang in the Vandermark 5), The Engines' drummer Tim Daisy ( the saxophonist's duo partner and member of the Rempis Percussion Quartet), and bassist Nate McBride (FME, Spaceways Inc., Bridge 61). Before their first self-titled recording for Okka Records in 2008, trombonist Jeb Bishop joined to created a very balanced grouping of musicians.
It is the interplay between Bishop and Rempis that fuels this date. Each player supports the other's soloing, then replies with his own contribution. While the music is composed, and McBride's huge bass sound sustains the architecture, the band tends towards flights of improvisation that are penetrating and shrewd. Daisy's "Red Cage" changes directions several times and is a perfect example of what this band is all about. The scheme for multiple time signatures to jigsaw the track, swapping horn interactions with bebop flavors and machine gun energy music that can stop on a dime, reminds that while the piece is composed, sonic mayhem is possible. Daisy has that maelstrom encoded in his DNA, playing loose and almost sloppily, until his patterns are realized.
Bassist Nate McBride maintains the energy center here. On both "Red Cage" and "Free Range," the he displays soloing skills on acoustic and electric bass, sparking the band and providing some intriguing electric static on the final piece.
The highlight here is the overtly confident track "Next Question" which is powered by heavy call-and-response from tenor and trombone. Bishop, with plunger in hand, begins by squirting notes into Rempis' bluesy Brotzmann-like honking saxophone, until McBride and Daisy open up a bebop groove that further fuels the back-and forth. Thrilling stuff here.
Personnel: Jeb Bishop: trombone; Dave Rempis: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Nate McBride: acoustic bass, electric bass; Tim Daisy: drums.