Even when all four members of the Engines lived in Chicago their performances were infrequent. Saxophonist Dave Rempis, trombonist Jeb Bishop, bassist Nate McBride, and drummer Tim Daisy rate as some of the city’s busiest, most in-demand musicians, so they’re often on the road or playing in of the many other ensembles they belong to. But in the last year or so Bishop and McBride have both moved away from Chicago, which makes any Engines concert all the more special. Few bands summon the power of this well-named unit, which slyly erases any lines between post-bop and free jazz, creating lean models of hard-swinging ebullience and exploration.
The group’s latest album Other Violets (Not Two) was a collaboration with the great Danish reedist John Tchicai in one of his last recorded performances, and that partnership not only made plenty of sense on paper—with both parties masterfully pushing the boundaries of post-bop conventions with individualistic panache—but it worked in practice, too. Tchicai barely had time to rehearse with the band before they hit the stage on the night the album was recorded, but he fit in like he’d always been a part of the ensemble. Much of that credit belongs to Engines, naturally, four of the most flexible and adaptable players Chicago has produced in recent years. Hold on tight—it’s sure to be a high-energy ride