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Dave Rempis / Brandon Lopez / Ryan Packard: The Early Bird Gets

Mark Corroto By

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The trio of saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Brandon Lopez, and drummer Ryan Packard have released their debut recording The Early Bird Gets without devising a name for the trio. Packard, like his fellow Chicagoan Tim Daisy, is a percussionist, composer, and sound artist. He is a member of Rempis' Chicago-based Gunwale, along with Albert Wildeman. With the addition of Lopez, one of the brightest stars in New York's free jazz today (John Dikeman, Ivo Perelman, Nate Wooley, Gerald Cleaver), the saxophonist recruits yet another distinguished bassist into his ensembles.

With all due respect, let's call this trio The Pyromaniacs, inasmuch as the three musicians have an obsessive desire to set fire to this music. The conflagration starts with the very first track "Crypto Vo Lans," with Lopez standing guard with an insistent pulse that ignites Rempis' saxophone before Packard lights up the music with his solo. The energy released is impressive, even with the piece clocking in under six minutes. The same can be said of the final track, "Ganisus." The trio moves through the music like a wildfire. Speed is their decree, and it is carried out mercilessly, until, that is, their free jazz turns on a dime. Packard's swift cymbal work and Lopez' pursuit switch on Rempis' machine gun; part Peter Brötzmann with (can you believe this?) flavors of Paul Desmond. An unforeseen shift in tempo ends the piece, and is oh-so brilliant. Elsewhere, their blaze is a bit more of a controlled burn, with "Neo Aves" and "Archae Opteryx," featuring Packard's electronics. This meditative approach forgoes the energy music for sonic possibilities.

If you were wondering, the tracks are the names of prehistoric birds, the early descendants of the dinosaurs, and not a reference to the "Bird" (Charlie Parker) you might have been thinking of. But, then again, on "Confucius Ornis," with Rempis hoisting a brawny baritone saxophone, some bebop essence is distilled. Is this music in the jazz tradition? Yes, in the same orbit of Buddy Bolden, who lit the fire that burned through Armstrong, Young, Parker, and Ayler.

Track Listing: Crypto Vo Lans; Raho Navis; Archae Opteryx; Confucius Ornis; Yah Ornis; Neo Aves; Gansus.

Personnel: Dave Rempis: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone; Brandon Lopez: bass; Ryan Packard: drums, electronics.

Title: The Early Bird Gets | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Aerophonic Records

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