Sometimes a band hits a stretch, much like an athlete with a hot hand, and produces a string of special recordings. Sud Des Alpes is The Rempis Percussion Quartet's tenth release and it follows Cochonnerie (Aerophonic, 2017). Like all the quartet's releases except Montreal Parade (482 Music, 2011), it captures a live performance. This at AMR in Geneva, Switzerland in 2019 as part of a European tour and the unit's fifteenth anniversary. Little has changed, except for the replacement of bassist Anton Hatwich with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, but that was more than a decade ago.
Proof of that hot hand is quite evident here. Even though the four musicians have relocated to different parts of the planetFrank Rosaly to The Netherlands, Flaten to Texas, leaving Tim Daisy and Dave Rempis as the Chicago anchors, The streak of intense music making continues. Like their previous releases, expect lengthy tracks, but with with Sud Des Alpes there is no excess fat to trim from these improvised pieces. "There's A Jam On The Line" opens with Flaten's bowed bass responding to the echoing saxophone of Rempis. The 18-plus minute track progresses from the meditative to the manic by way of a ceremonial progression, passing through a blues iteration and a hypnotic groove. Credit the combination of swinging drums of Rosaly and the rattle accents of Daisy. Next, they cover The Art Ensemble Of Chicago's "Theme De Yoyo" from 1970, which acts as a launchpad for "Evacuation" and Rempis' display of his firebrand tenor saxophone technique. When he pauses, Daisy and Rosaly maintain the momentum with their conjoined twin drumming, until Flaten and Rempis rejoin and turn a simmer into a boil. The gift here is how the four improvisers accomplish this cooking groove throughout, connecting each improvised piece into a whole. "Late Arrival" opens with Rempis pushing overblown saxophone boundaries, Flaten slashing arco notes, while the drummers attack from every angle. This barrage exhausts itself in a return to the same meditative mode that opens the performance. When you're hot, you're hot. The Rempis Percussion Quartet's streak continues.
There’s A Jam On The Line; Theme De Yoyo / Evacuation; Late Arrival.