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Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Feldman, Daisy, Rempis - Sirocco (Aerophonic, 2023)

Mark Feldman – violin
Dave Rempis – alto/tenor/baritone saxophone
Tim Daisy – drums

A Sirocco is a hot wind blowing up from Libya toward Italy. I find it fascinating that a hot wind has a return address. It is also a movie set in Damascus, starring Humphrey Bogart who “meets destiny in a low-cut gown.” I am pretty sure the musicians had the first in mind. The second seemed to me to echo as I listened to this exquisite album. Every bit of Sirocco reminds me of a vast current moving from far away into my corner of the conscious world. To feel a hot, dry wind is to feel a thousand miles of strange geography on the surface of your skin.

The first two minutes of the first movement (OSTRO) oriented me toward the direction of the wind. It was the kind of spooky that is most intense because it is subtle and puzzling. Ostro is a southerly wind. The almost insect-like whistle-whine is eerie; it must be telling me something important! At just shy of the third minute, the violin drops down and the drums enter the conversation. Still the buzzing, and then the rapid warble increases as the instruments dig in and, one bit at a time, build up an edifice of evocative lines and surfaces.

At seven minutes in (a quarter of the first piece) we first hear a subtle pitter pat from the percussion that teases, reminiscent of water on rocks but revealing only that dry wind on the tent strings. Most of the first movement is given to solos by horn or violin that move in a vast space created by the percussion. Occasionally horn and strings encircle the listener as the drumbeat carries the two along that geography.

The second movement (BORA), like the first, is about twenty-eight minutes. Bora is another dry northeasterly wind, this one a cold blast on the Adriatic. Here a touch more narrative is detectable, bits you could hum along to, and even a little Hollywood romance in the violin lines. Don’t worry, the insect hum of the wind, the ripple of the air current over rough percussive ground, is always there. I think I liked the second movement better, but only because the first prepared me for it. This trio has mastered the art of preparing the ground.

I’ve had an ear out for Dave Rempis for some time. I can recommend The Covid Tapes, with Tomeka Reid, Joshua Abrams, Tim Daisy, Tyler Damon. I noticed Feldman on recordings with Ivo Perelman and Susan Alcorn. For Tim Daisy, check out this YouTube clip .