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Dave Rempis, Brandon Lopez, & Ryan Packard

  • Arts + Literature Laboratory 2021 Winnebago Street Madison, WI, 53704 United States (map)

A brilliantly matched trio of improvisers play live in the wake of their first collaborative release. Info/tix

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Saxophonist Dave Rempis, drummer Ryan Packard, and bassist Brandon Lopez (the first two based in Chicago, the third in New York City) are all dizzyingly well-travelled collaborators in contemporary jazz and improvised music, so it kind of just makes sense that at some point they'd converge. The trio began playing improvised live shows together in 2017 and released their first album together, The Early Bird Gets, this February on Rempis' Aerophonic Records label. Each musician here has played in pretty abstract territory, though not exclusively so—Lopez in his work with the explosive drummer Chris Corsano, Packard with bizarro-prog outfit Wei Zhongle and guitarist Daniel Wyche, and Rempis in the trio Kuzu with drummer Tyler Damon and guitarist Tashi Dorji, to cite just a few instances. But the promotional materials for The Early Bird Gets note that it "may be the 'jazziest' project any of them are involved with," and in this case the promotional materials have an important point. A tracks like "Raho Navis" is still every bit the wriggling heap of ideas one would expect from this trio, but Rempis' sax is, in its barbed and fiery way, chiefly concerned with laying down a melody here, while Packard's drumming creates a feel both swinging and frenetic, and Lopez meanders through challenging but still warmly engaging phrases of its own. Elsewhere, as on "Neo Aves," the trio does prod at the more atonal edges of its capabilities, with help from the electronic elements Packard has been incorporating into his drumkit. There's plenty of all three of these players to go around right now, but together they've created something incredibly vital. —Scott Gordon