Taken from four hours of recording in a studio, the one-hour straight improvisation that is Montreal Parade by The Rempis Percussion Quartet is stunning. Reedman David Rempis has reinvented former band member, Anton Hatwich, with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten in the seven year old group that features high-class drummers, Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly.
This music demonstrates how to balance rhythm, tunefulness and sound-making in the art of improvisation. Because Rempis is the only horn player, he automatically distinguishes himself from the rest of the band, not in a way that separates him; rather in a manner that centers him as an axis around which the bass and the drums flourish.
Rempis’ sound is rich; he begins with the alto in the first “This Is Not A Tango.”Among the clusters and unique arpeggios, he always states and reprises a main song phrase. Its predominant tone rings. He lapses into memorable tunes. The drums charge the sound field with a huge rumble, measurable from cymbal to cowbell accents. The bass takes over in what is clearly an ostinato figure, completed by drumming whose rhythmic structure prevails in an endless drive. That rhythmic structure yields to Rempis’ precise development of nearly balladic melody.
The remaining forty-two minute “If You Were A Waffle And I Were A Bee” launches into a starkly recognizable hard bop mode that includes a walking line of the bass and a knock-your-socks-off jammin’ on the drums. Rempis’ tenor ostinato, sputters and spews herald a pattern of changes in the music’s configuration. The bass’ fast monotonic bowing fashions solid groundwork on which are built bridges of abstractions that transport the gripping dynamics: from fast to slow, tender to sour, intense to laid back, wild to melodic. The improvisation unfolds at every instrumental level in series of pristine transitions.