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Sunday, July 7, 2024

Dave Rempis - Sunday Interview

Photo by Cristina Marx/Photomusix

  1. What is your greatest joy in improvised music?

    To me it’s the combination of physicality in the playing and finding ways to truly be in the moment in the deepest sense. But that also combines with intelligence, wit, and strategic thinking. The best improvisers to are ones who don’t just “play what they feel” at a given point in time, but can actually recall the motifs, forms, and structures that have developed over the course of a piece, whether it’s 5 minutes or 90 minutes. They then make decisions based on that knowledge, which is a whole lot to balance at once – playing an instrument, dealing with the immediate input from other musicians, and navigating and contributing to the longer-term compositional elements of a piece. Seeing a band who can do all of those things at the same time is truly exhilarating. 

  2. What quality do you most admire in the musicians you perform with?

    A commitment to the music, no matter what the context. Whether you’re playing on a big festival stage, or a quiet Monday night at a bookstore in your hometown. I admire the folks who take every situation with the same level of seriousness and find ways to make a contribution to the music every time.

  3. Which historical musician/composer do you admire the most?

    There are so many, I don’t know where to begin. I hate top 10 lists, and desert island choices. I am who I am as a musician because of so many different people I’ve had the fortune to hear over the years, both live and on recordings. They’re all important to me and it’s the combination of all of those ideas, practices, and approaches that help make me who I am as a musician. 

  4.  If you could resurrect a musician to perform with, who would it be?

    It’s an interesting concept, but I wouldn’t be so presumptuous. That person may be quite happy where they are, or where they “aren’t” depending on your perspective. I’d hate to take the gamble that they wouldn’t be real happy to get dragged out of there and have to play with my dumb ass. We can always meet up later if the situation allows.

  5. What would you still like to achieve musically in your life?

    I’d still really like to be able to put together a large ensemble to record and tour at least once. But financial realities of this music make that pretty challenging unless you’re one of the anointed few who have grant or other money showering down on you from above. It’s challenging enough to make a trio tour work out ok financially for everyone nowadays.

  6. Are you interested in popular music and - if yes - what music/artist do you particularly like?

    Yeah, I like tons of different music. There’s no one right now in pop music who I’d say I’m loving, but there are plenty of folks across the years. I used to bartend at a couple of large Chicago rock venues when I was younger and got to see everyone from Prince to Bob Dylan to Slayer to Tori Amos. There’s great work in all different genres, it just depends on who it is.

  7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    Always a work in progress…plenty of things to work on.

  8. Which of your albums are you most proud of?

    As an improviser, I’m not sure that records are really the final outcome of something to be celebrated and analyzed and adulated. To me they’re very much more of a snapshot of a particular moment in time. The real work to me is the ongoing learning process of live performance across many years. With that in mind hopefully the most recent ones are the “best.”

  9. Once an album of yours is released, do you still listen to it? And how often?

    Since I run my own record label, and produce 90% of the recordings I’m on, by the time a record comes out I’ve heard it so much through the process of choosing material, mixing, mastering, double checking masters before manufacturing, etc etc that I generally don’t want to hear it ever again. That said, I listen once when it comes back from the manufacturer (or to several copies if it’s an LP) to make sure there aren’t any manufacturing errors. And then I usually go back about 6 months later once I have some distance from it to see if I still think it’s any good or not.

  10. Which album (from any musician) have you listened to the most in your life?

    Tough one. When I was younger it would probably have been a Coltrane or Ornette record, but at this point I’d guess it’s a Yusef Lateef record – probably Live at Pep’s

  11. What are you listening to at the moment?

    Silence. I just came back from tour and am enjoying a little space before I go out again in 10 days or so. I read a lot when I’m home, and I find it tough to both read and listen to music at the same time. It overwhelms my brain! I can’t wait to get in the van for this upcoming US tour with a new quartet called Archer with Terrie Ex, Jon Rune Strøm, and Tollef Østvang though. I love driving on the road, and those are the times when I can really listen with some focus, since I’m not answering emails or doing other admin work when I’m driving. There’s a ton of stuff on my list including a couple of new releases from my friend Mars Williams who passed away last fall, both of which just came out on Corbett vs. Dempsey.

  12. What artist outside music inspires you?

    My partner turned me on a lot to Piet Oudolf over the last few years. He’s a Dutch gardener/landscape architect who’s done a ton of major projects including the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, and the Highline in New York. He has some remarkable concepts about gardening, particularly regarding the dynamic nature of his work, which seem very relevant to the music.

Dave Rempis on the Free Jazz Blog: