Dave Rempis: tenor saxophone; Steve Swell: trombone; James Falzone: clarinet; Russ Johnson: trumpet; Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Tim Daisy: drums.
Chicago-based drummer and composer, Tim Daisy, is known for his dedication to the avant-garde jazz, a style of which he keeps contributing prolifically whether through solo performances or musical associations that most of the times fall in duets and trios.
To counteract this tendency, Daisy convenes an astonishing sextet - Dave Rempis on tenor saxophone, James Falzone on clarinet, Russ Johnson on trumpet, Steve Swell on trombone, and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello - to record The Halfway There Suite, his new auspicious album.
There’s a lot to like in this short session, which was performed and recorded live on the occasion of Daisy’s 40th birthday celebration. The drummer had these five excellent musicians in mind when he composed this four-part suite. Through the strong empathy, precise coordination, and grand elation detected here, it’s easy to conclude that besides talented explorers they are friends above all.
Daisy’s opening is a four-minute chamber jazz piece that finds its balance mostly through the simultaneous actions of the reedists. It features improvisations by Johnson on a first instance, and then Swell, who finishes in style.
The atmosphere becomes fervent during “Pt. 2”, a spontaneous automation grounded in a fantastic groove laid down by Lonberg-Holm and solidified by Daisy’s lusty drumming. In terms of improvisation, Falzone enchanted me as if I were a serpent. In opposition, Rempis gave wings to creativity by engendering a caustic speech imbued of tension. The tune is wrapped up with a collective improvisational section whose controlled cacophony made me jump. At this point, dancing is a valid option!
The longest and more abstract piece is “Pt. 3” where Lonberg-Holm cooks an eerie atmosphere. You’ll have the opportunity to admire not only the conversational reciprocity between Falzone and Swell, but also Daisy’s thunder rumblings and arrhythmias.
The exciting six-piece ensemble closes its performance with “Pt. 4”, an intoxicating waltz driven by sometimes-explosive, sometimes-danceable rhythms, and punctuated by contrasting blowouts and conductible melodic ideas.
If free and avant-jazz genres are your cup of tea, in the end, you’re going to ask for more.
02 – Pt. 2 ► 03 – Pt. 3 ► 04 – Pt. 4