Sunday, July 4, 2010

Jeb Bishop, Dave Rempis and The Engines, 2006

If I wake up early on the morning of July 4th to get some additional reviews done, it stands to reason that I am here right now to praise the music, not to bury it. Otherwise, why would I bother?

And so today I get in a review of some great music that, since I bought a copy of the CD when I had money to spend and then somehow never got it into the review pile until now, gets covered a little late. The Engines already have a second album. The self-titled first (Okkadisk 12057) is not the kind of record that needs complete currency to justify a discussion. This is music that, one assumes with good reason, will have relevancy for many years to come. At least that's how it grabs me.

You've probably noticed, if you follow what's been happening in Chicago, that there is a loosely interrelated group of jazz player-composers that tend to seek each other out. They are known for being avant but also greatly concerned with compositional and arranged ensemble music that gives equal weight to individual solos, collective improvisations, and challenging group routines that do not end with the conventional "head," if there is one.

The Engines are an excellent example of this new Chicago school. As of this first recording they consisted of four Chicagoland heavyweights: Jeb Bishop, trombone, Dave Rempis, alto-tenor-baritone, Nate McBride, bass, and Tim Daisy, drums. Each writes interesting charts, for this album as well as in general, and are notably important sorts of players.

And all of that is amply in evidence on this first recording. It strikes a beautiful balance between freedom and pre-thought, spontaneity and structure, expression and deliberation. And they do it all in a stylistically singular way. They come out of some heavy, OUT Chicago traditions (like Hal Russell, Art Ensemble, others) and extend and transform them to suit their musical personalities. And they do it well. Very very well.

A great record!


  1. Hi Grego

    Be interested to know how you found (compare) the two Engines albums. I enjoyed the second album very much, is the first much the same, as good, maybe better!?

    Nice blog.

  2. Hi Joesh,

    It's been a little while since I listened to either, but I will say that I don't think I've ever heard Jeb Bishop do anything badly. The same with Dave Rempis. I would not want to say which one is better; they are definitely BOTH well worth having and hearing, as is the Jeb Bishop trio (refcent) and the two albums he did as part of the Lucky 7's (w/Jeff Albert). Rempis has done some great things too. I love the balance between the free and composed elements. Hope this helps. Thanks for your input and nice words on my blog. Keep listening!