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Blame it on phasing—you know, the acoustic phenomenon that happens when two people sing the same note and from their inevitable differences emerges a phantom third player. It’s one of many reasons to recommend seeing the local Rempis Percussion Quartet and its dual-drummer setup en vivo. It’s also why, as great as its new Rip Tear Crunch (482 Music) sounds, your home stereo just can’t convey the group’s true enveloping effect.
Dueling RPQ drummers Tim Daisy and Frank Rosaly seem to relish this effect. The two churn out almost-butnot- quite identical rhythms, acutely conscious that they’re very different musicians: Daisy likes the clean lines of ’60s bebop and funk, while Rosaly channels more of the fluid, tangential Paul Motian school of drumming. And it helps that RPQ’s tremendously propulsive Afrobeat grooves, unending swing and even breathtakingly quiet moments—all with bassist Anton Hatwich darting between them—seem to draw from a bottomless well of energy.
Dave Rempis, the saxophonist and leader of the RPQ, carries this enormous rhythm section with broad shoulders and a wonderful, outsized sound. His pulsing caricatures of avant forerunners like Eric Dolphy can be heard in dozens of the city’s best improvised music groups, including Triage and the Vandermark 5 (both of which also include Daisy). All that ubiquity from Rempis, combined with his jobs booking spaces like Elastic, formerly the avant-garde haven 3030, make him our choice for Chicago Free Jazz MVP. Rip Tear Crunch, whose release is being celebrated tonight, is a useful document of a band that all jazz fans should seek out live.—Matthew Lurie