Dave Rempis Quintet Performing Jackie McLean’s Action (curated by the Jazz Art Record Collective)
One of the most fascinating and rewarding jazz programs in the city is the Jazz Record Art Collective’s ongoing series at the Fulton Street Collective, where musicians are asked to perform historic albums in their entirety. They do so not in the interest of recreating these works, but to rediscover them on their own contemporary terms. Today, the JRAC visits the festival via the Dave Rempis Quintet’s performance of revered alto saxophonist Jackie McLean’s 1964 recording, Action. It’s an inspired choice, as is Rempis.
One of the pivotal efforts in the bop generation’s incorporation of free jazz, Action doesn’t have the reputation of McLean classics such as Let Freedom Ring and One Step Beyond, partly because it was out of print for so long. Count on basking in its glories after you hear it filtered through Rempis’ take-no-prisoners sensibility. One of the hardest working artists on Chicago’s free jazz scene, right up there with his mentor Ken Vandermark, he is perhaps best known for his deep, carousing sound on tenor and baritone, but with its sharp, acidic tones, his alto playing will suit him well in capturing Jackie Mac’s lean attack.
Rempis and his stellar quintet – trumpeter Russ Johnson, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Reed – certainly will have their work cut out for them in filling the giant shoes of McLean, Charles Tolliver, Bobby Hutcherson, Cecil McBee and Billy Higgins. But with their passionate commitment to McLean’s music, and all it represents, there will be no need to call this group to Action.