Rempis / Abrams /Ra + Baker

Label: Aerophonic
Medium: CD
Year: 2019

Availability: In stock



Apsis is the the third recording by this working group since 2014, and it documents a band that has fully incorporated a new member into the mix, transitioning from working trio to working quartet. Although their last record, 2016’s two-disc set Perihelion, featured keyboardist Jim Baker on one of the two discs, that recording was made on the first night Baker joined the band. While that doesn’t diminish the quality of the work presented there – sometimes first meetings are magic – the intervening three years, during which Baker has become an integral part of this band, have produced an improvising ensemble that consistently creates spontaneous long-form compositions with jaw-dropping clarity. Just listen to the first thirty seconds of the record, where Rempis’ forceful opening on baritone is immediately countered by Baker’s stabbing response on the flat ninth of the key that Rempis’ whole note implies. Abrams enters seconds later with a descending line that gracefully turns a potentially discordant conflict into an achingly haunting tonality, Ra patiently builds his delicate cymbal and snare pattering into a consistent sense of motion, and the band is off to the races on a seamless excursion that lands somewhere between late period Coltrane and Cecil Taylor’s bands with Jimmy Lyons. It’s frankly difficult to believe that this music isn’t pre-composed since so many of the melodic and rhythmic themes the band develops are airtight from the start. But that’s what years of work together brings to the proceedings; trust in one another that ANY gesture can forward the narrative momentum as long as the entire band is committed and tuned in. Actual freedom. We feel the same energy on the second piece – Mithrab – albeit in the midst of a very different musical landscape. While Exedra soars into the high voltage spaces the band is known for building, Mithrab sounds like Sun Ra snuck in the back door of a South Side Chicago club in the late 1950’s, and stole the organ chair on a Gene Ammons gig. Baker’s mind-melting approach to timbre and harmony on the ARP synthesizer combines with Rempis’ full-throated but warm tenor sound, and the patient grooves that Abrams and Ra spin out, to produce a slow developing piece that draws you further and further into its subtle depth. The band gradually melts like butter into a medium tempo lope that sends them diving just as deeply into the interior aspects of a groove as they launch themselves outward into the stratosphere on Exedra. (from the label)