Music Program

Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.

FREE admission ($10 - 20 suggested donation)


Dave Rempis (saxophones)
Darren Johnston (trumpet)
Larry Ochs (saxophones)

The trio Rempis/Johnston/Ochs is a collaborative horn trio featuring Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis alongside Bay Area masters Darren Johnston on trumpet, and Larry Ochs on saxophones. This free-improvising project came together in the fall of 2011, when Rempis journeyed to the West Coast to discover some things about his compatriots on the Bay Area improvising scene. Trumpeter Johnston, a frequent visitor to Chicago, where the two had collaborated in several different settings in the years prior, suggested this trio lineup for a performance at Oakland's Uptown Nightclub. Although Rempis hadn't worked with Ochs before, the latter's renowned experience in the all-horn lineup of The ROVA Saxophone Quartet made the idea especially appealing. From the first few notes, that initial meeting flowed comfortably, yet in totally unexpected ways, with all three making logical structural decisions that gave their improvisations the feel of through-composed pieces. Eager to continue developing this language that the three later came to dub "invisible architecture," Rempis made a follow-up trip to the Bay Area in the spring of 2012 for two more concerts and a studio recording session. Spectral, the first document of their work, was the result of that visit, and shows an improvising trio playing out an audible game of chess. Not satisfied with simply existing in the moment, these three combine sensibilities to look many moves ahead, setting each other up time and again to capitalize on structural possibilities that give rare and meaningful form to an otherwise very spontaneous music.

When avant chamber jazz turns its attention to small ensembles of horns the emphasis generally turns to color and texture and sometimes less to rhythmic momentum. The playing routines and structure brought to the music, either spontaneously or in terms of pre-planned sequences, usually put the emphasis on the personal intermixtures of the stylists involved. We can hear this readily and notably in the three-horn presence of Dave Rempis (alto sax), Darren Johnston (trumpet) and Larry Ochs (tenor and sopranino saxes) on the recent album Spectral (Aerophonic 006).

This gathering conjoins the Chicago-based Rempis with two key players associated with the West Coast (Johnston and Ochs) for a series of seven improvised segments that excel in the inspired variety of sounds the three make together, seemingly with pronounced improvisational spontaneity.

Larry Ochs of course is best known for his key association as a member of the Rova Saxophone Quartet, but all three are no strangers to the horn-based chamber style.

All three thrive in their association here. They listen closely to one another and respond with extraordinarily creative utterances. This is music that can go from volcanic explosions of energy to more subdued melodic interplay. The timbres evoked show the great control the artists have gained over the sound possibilities of their respective instruments and the note choices open up the musical universe to subtle or exhilarating melodic variations, sometimes one following close upon the other.

In the end we hear great things, the art of three excellent improvisors forming a synergy that ranks with some of the best such outings in recent years. It is fascinating and ever-moving.

This is real-deal freedom!" - Grego Applegate Edwards

This concert is made possible with support from David Kennedy, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation & public funds from the Music program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

A recording of this concert was later released by Aerophonic Records as "Neutral Nation:"