The Engines

The Engines is one of the most outstanding Chicago quartets of the past decade. They are more than the sums of their parts. They combine all the parts into a smooth dynamo of energy flow. Free-form solos emerge effortlessly from structured material, while mainstream riffs appear when you least expect them. Dave Rempis is a Chicago saxophonist who has made a name for himself. He plays in many local bands and is a friendly firebrand. He tempers his wildest adventures with a lot of humor and a surprising level of gentility. He is a versatile alto and tenor player, and can swing hard. His music alternates between boppish melodies and multiphonic screeches, often in a single solo. Jeb Bishop, the trombone player, is a master of new-music trombone and ranks alongside Rempis in imagination and versatility. He has a remarkable command of tone and intonation and can uncover deeply-rooted ideas and spin them into panoramic aural storms, more so than Rempis. Nate McBride, bassist, is the eye of the storms. He exudes a calmness that anchors the music and drives The Engines with ever more powerful strokes. McBride has been a stabilizing force for a dozen other bands. It almost masks his impressive technique and commanding power, which is especially evident in his double stop passages. This becomes more evident with every performance. Tim Daisy is a drummer who does the same thing in every band he plays. He is a constant marvel. His shifts in rhythm and palettes are a constant wonder. The Engines have an orchestral quality that makes them seem larger than a quartet. The Engines’ new album, which was recorded at the Hungry Brain three years ago, features John Tchicai, an Afro-Danish flutist and saxophonist. Tchicai was an early member of the jazz avant-garde. He performed on John Coltrane‚Äôs cataclysmic Ascension, 1965. Later, he became a mentor to two generations. You might be a little puzzled by this pairing. Adding another voice to a quartet with such fine tuning is not a guarantee of success. Tchicai was, in essence, “the fifth Engine” at this performance. His sweet, searching flute playing opens up a new dimension to the band’s music. His penchant for creating melodies that are both tuneful and Mingus-like is a perfect match for the other members of the group. Tchicai passed away in October so the CD-release show will be a tribute to him. But it won’t be a sad one. The music is too lively for that. from

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