Lee Rice Epstein
Last year, Dave Rempis, Matt Piet, and Tim Daisy debuted their new trio
Hit the Ground Running
and Cure for the Quotidian, two excellent sessions that impressed
several reviewers of this blog. Now they’re back with Throw Tomatoes, which features the group’s third and fourth shows
together. Altogether, the three releases tell the story of less than a
year’s worth of collaboration, improvisation, and inspiration. Beginning
with Cure for the Quotidian, recorded November 9, 2016, continuing
with Hit the Ground Running, January 21, 2017 (a pair of
auspicious dates here in the States), and picking up with May 8 and July 2,
On “To Play Is the Thing,” recorded last May at Chicago’s Elastic Arts,
Daisy opens with melodic cymbals, introducing and accompanying Piet. As
we’ve discussed here numerous times, Daisy is a remarkably musical
performer, with a style and approach that defies the personnel listing
“drums” (just as Rempis is much more than “saxophones” and Piet beyond
“piano”). Rempis enters a couple minutes in, and the three tackle a
circular, pointillist interlude, with Piet employing some preparations.
It’s not just the name Matthew that brings to mind Shipp in Piet’s playing.
There’s a similar depth to Piet’s approach to the piano as a complete
instrument, with the full range of its keyboard and dynamics simultaneously
deployed, as on his first solo section in “The Thousand Natural Shocks,”
recorded at The Hungry Brain last July. Daisy is in a particularly driving
mood on this date, shifting into a mellow swing at one point, before urging
Rempis and Piet back into high gear. All three seem to be constantly
supporting, poking, and prodding each other.
In the liner notes, Piet writes about a moment near the 20-minute mark of
“To Play Is the Thing,” when he and Daisy tried to end the performance.
Daisy adds some solid punctuation to Piet’s playing, but in context it does
sound unfinished without Rempis. The proper ending is much weirder and more
surprising, and therefore apt.
I mentioned to someone recently that Rempis has reached a new stage in his
playing. Maybe it’s the modern horror show we’ve been cast in against our
will, but I’d mark
as the point when something notable changed. For a saxophonist who always
seemed capable of doing anything, Rempis now does absolutely everything.
Throughout the album, Rempis plays with an open, fluid voice, which pairs
well with Daisy’s resonant pitches and warm rhythms. And his sly references
and unvarnished fury cut straight through Chicago’s thick night air.