Saxophonist Dave Rempis and percussionist Frank Rosaly share a musical relationship of the once-in-a-generation variety. These two improvisers have worked together for almost twenty years, beginning in 2001 when they met in the basement of the Nervous Center, a divey Lincoln Square café that served as a crucial breeding ground for young improvising musicians in Chicago at that time. From the spark of that first musical encounter, the two went on to work together in countless formations during one of the many “golden eras” of the Chicago jazz and improvised music scene; most notably the Rempis Percussion Quartet, The Ingebrigt Håker Flaten Chicago Sextet, and their longstanding duo pairing. They also became close friends, seeing one another through various relationships, family trials and tribulations, and other life-defining moments. It’s the depth and breadth of these shared human experiences that creates a musical affinity which is singular in its intimacy, and its strength.
After fifteen years in the trenches of the Windy City, Rosaly decided in 2016 to relocate to another flat, windswept locale across the ocean, beginning a new life in Amsterdam. The loss of his presence in his adopted hometown reverberated across the scene with a heartsinking thud; a moment of reevaluation for so many musicians who had come to depend on his work ethic, sensitivity, and total dedication to every musical context he took on. His sound helped define a multitude of projects in that era, none more so than the bands he worked in with Rempis. But that enduring relationship wouldn’t be shattered by a lack of geographic proximity.
This duo album was recorded live at Elastic Arts in January of 2018, during Rosaly’s lone return visit to Chicago since his departure. The two had prepped for it with a short tour in Europe the preceding fall. In it, we hear the joy of two old friends rediscovering each other, catching up on all the new discoveries they’ve made in their time apart. We also hear them settling into one another like a familiar armchair – relaxed, patient, easy-going, and completely at home.
Their previous duo record, 2009’s Cyrillic on 482 Music, featured the raw energy and experimentation of two thirty-something musicians taking the world by storm, chewing up every idea they could. Codes/Myths gives us a more mature, relaxed, and confident musical vision – one informed by the comfort of having worked in the music, and with one another, for so long. With nothing to prove, haste and anxiety are replaced by patience and meditation. The two take the time to examine every ramification of one another’s statements, sometimes following the emotion, sometimes poking fun, and often just basking in one another’s sound, like an all-too-rare visit to a favorite childhood beach, or secret spot in the woods. This document is more than a record, it’s a living illustration of the human as social animal, and a transparent expression of how intimate that can be.
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