Saxophonist, improviser, and composer Dave Rempis has been an integral part of the thriving Chicago jazz and improvised music scene since 1997. With a background in ethnomusicology and African studies at Northwestern University, including a year spent at the University of Ghana, Rempis burst onto the creative music scene at the age of 22 when he joined the well-known Chicago jazz outfit The Vandermark Five. This opportunity catapulted him to notoriety as he began to tour regularly throughout the US and Europe, an active schedule that he still maintains to the present day. At the same time, Rempis began to develop the many Chicago-based groups for which he’s currently known, including The Rempis Percussion Quartet, The Engines, Ballister, Rempis/Abrams/Ra, Wheelhouse, Triage, The Rempis/Rosaly Duo, and The Rempis/Daisy Duo. Other collaborations have included work with Paul Lytton, Axel DÌ¦rner, Fred Anderson, Peter BrÌ¦tzmann, C. Spencer Yeh, Hamid Drake, Steve Swell, John Tchicai, Roscoe Mitchell, Kevin Drumm, Paal Nilssen-Love, Nels Cline, and Joe McPhee. Rempis has been named regularly since 2006 in the annual Downbeat Critic’s Poll as a “rising star” on alto saxophone, and as a “rising star” and established talents on baritone saxophone. In 2013, he started his own record label, Aerophonic Records, to document this ongoing work.
Rempis’ musical expression draws on a number of touchstones. While heavily improvisational in nature, his Greek ethnicity, studies in jazz and ethnomusicology, an appreciation for the philosophical underpinnings of contemporary composition, and a love for unforgivingly strident yelps, screeches, and squeals that can encompass the ever-evolving state of human depravity all inform his work.
Aside from his role as a musician and composer, Rempis has worked tirelessly as a presenter. Since 2002, he’s organized and produced a weekly series of improvised music at Chicago’s Elastic Arts Foundation. He was a founding member of Umbrella Music, and one of the lead producers and curators of its annual festival in Chicago from 2006-2014, and served as the business manager of the Pitchfork Music Festival from 2005-2016. He currently works with the Hyde Park Jazz Festival.