Saxophonist, improviser and music presenter Dave Rempis came to Chicago in 1993 to study music at Northwestern University - and rather quickly found himself deeply embedded in Chicago's vibrant jazz and improvised music scenes. Asked to join The Vandermark Five in 1998 at the age of 22, he has since regularly toured throughout the US and Europe - developing Chicago and international projects like The Rempis Percussion Quartet, The Engines, Ballister, Rempis/Abrams/Ra, Wheelhouse, The Rempis/Rosaly Duo, The Rempis/Daisy Duo, and Gunwale. Collaborations have included performances with heavy hitters Paul Lytton, Axel Dörner, Peter Brötzmann, Hamid Drake, Steve Swell, John Tchicai, Roscoe Mitchell, Fred Anderson, Kevin Drumm, Paal Nilssen-Love, Nels Cline, Tony Buck, and Joe McPhee - among others.
Rempis continues to create opportunities for artists in and around as a presenter. Since 2002, he has organized a weekly Thursday-night concert series for the Elastic Arts Foundation. The series has featured over 600 concerts by some of the best improvisers from around the world while maintaining a focus on up-and-coming local musicians.
2017 marks the 15th year of the Thursday night series, organized, curated, and run by Dave Rempis (you'll often find him collecting money at the door or manning the sound board). Chicago Artists Resource asked Dave to explain the series' history, place, and purpose - in his own words.
Visit Elastic Art's Calendar for the upcoming schedule of Improvised Music Concerts, happening every Thursday. (Also of note, Dave's group Gunwale is currently in residence at The Burlington - playing every Tuesday in the month of January).
We asked Dave to tell us, in his own words - the how, where, and what for - of the series, published below.
The Thursday night Improvised Music Series at Elastic Arts started in April of 2002 but has some background that goes back even further. In the 90's, Ken Vandermark had a long-running Thursday night series at the Lunar Cabaret, on Lincoln Ave just north of Diversey. This was where I first saw so many great Chicago improvisers who I still work with - Ken, Mars Williams, Kent Kessler, Jim Baker, Harrison Bankhead, Steve Hunt, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and on and on!
When the basement space stopped functioning in the fall of 2001, or thereabouts, I had some college friends who had been running a rehearsal space and recording studio as an artists' collective, down in Pilsen - at 500 W. Cermak - since 1998. They started doing some events around the year 2000, but were kicked out of the building for hosting underground events, only a year later. Looking for a new place to host concerts, they found this great little church in Humboldt Park at 3030 W. Cortland, which they re-opened as an underground venue called "3030". I decided this would be a good place to continue the Thursday night tradition, which has continued ever since and now going for 15 years this Spring. We've done over 600 concerts in total between 3030 (2002-2005), the first space known as Elastic at 2830 N. Milwaukee (2006-2014), and the current space, Elastic Arts at 3429 W. Diversey (2015-present) in Logan Square. What was early on,a very underground venue, has become a formal 501 (c)(3) Not-For-Profit organization with proper licenses, funders, etc.
The Improvised Music Series continues its 15th year of concerts every Thursday at Elastic Arts.
As told to Chicago Artists Resource by Dave Rempis.
Feature photo by: Jim Newberry
Inset photo by: Dan Mohr