Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Ponytail guitarist Dustin Wong and Chicago saxophonist Dave Rempis.
Listed: Dustin Wong + Dave Rempis
Infinite Love, the new album on Thrill Jockey by Dustin Wong, at first may seem like a far cry from his more well known work with the bands Ponytail and Ecstatic Sunshine. Upon fully digesting the concept double-album, the disparate themes of the album become more apparent, as Wong encourages the listener to take different listening paths while viewing the accompanying DVD.
1. Beach Boys - Smiley Smile
Assorted combinations of instruments creating unified sounds and lyrics straight from the soul of Brian Wilson. Kinda bratty, kinda sulky, and the sounds so whimsical it seems to be coming from another realm. I remember laughing a lot listening to this album.
2. Papa M - Live From a Shark Cage
”I am not Lonely with Cricket” was a track that I listened to over and over. The ethereal nature of the music took me places. It is a piece of music I come back to, like a favorite Rothko painting in a museum.
3. Terry Riley - Rainbow in Curved Air
For a few months, every night, I would listen to this album on my headphones with my kaleidoscope projector aimed at the ceiling. I learned so much about the ecstasy of music by doing so.
4. Mickey Hart - Diga Rhythm Band
I love how fetishistic this album is, and the adventure Mickey Hart brings to these rhythms. I can only imagine the musician’s jovial adrenaline rush of changing time signatures building up to climax; "we’ll change here, and then here!"
5. Aki Tsuyuko - Ongakushitsu (Music Room)
This album has the power to assimilate. It can blend in to any environment, narrative or situation. It’s great music to read Haruki Murakami novels with. Beautiful stuff; furniture music in the best way possible.
6. Brian Eno - Music for Airports
I remember being introduced to this album and Nutella at the same time. An English teacher at my high school, who just got of grad school at the Art Institute of Chicago, put the album on, made some tea and some toast with Nutella applied generously. It was the perfect introduction. Listening to it, I felt like I was finally home, as if I’ve heard it before, something that goes past nostalgia, something so essential. I mentioned this to my mom, and she came out to say that she actually listened to this album when I was still in her womb.
7. OOIOO - Feather Float
This album was a huge one for me in high school. The sounds sounded so unique, so rocking, so outer space. It took me there.
8. Greg Davis - Arbor
The title track Arbor was really the thing that encouraged me to write music on guitar. It was everything I was searching for, and the perfect launching place to begin my own musical experiments. Hearing three to four acoustic guitars purely creating a world of a higher sphere, yet grounded here in this world rooted by the tree the guitar itself was made from.
9. The Shaggs - The Shaggs
The perfect record to listen to if you’re starting to feel too serious, the best way to give your false ego/pride a lobotomy. Get loosey goosey! It also reminds me I should fart and laugh once in a while, and smile at a flower.
10. Number Girl - Sappukei
Another high school favorite. They were somewhat of a super band in Japan, and they fulfilled my angsty teenage days perfectly. I had a crush on the lead guitarist and her playing had a lot of influence on me. “Urban Guitar Sayonara” still sounds so fresh, the strange piano intro with wailing distorted guitars made me feel so weird, in the best way. I think I had a synesthetic reaction when hearing that song for the first time. It smelled like rain on asphalt.
In college, Dave Rempis was so put off by the classical saxophone repertoire that he switched majors to anthropology and ethnomusicology. A year out of school he jumped into the deep end of not-lame saxophone music when he joined the Vandermark 5. Twelve years later, the alto/tenor/baritone saxophonist has more than repaid Ken Vandermark’s early vote of confidence and is still a constant in his groups. He’s become a commanding soloist who leads or co-leads the Engines, Outskirts, Wheelhouse, and the Rempis Percussion Quartet, and he also books weekly jazz concerts for Chicago’s Elastic Arts Foundation.
1. Charlie Parker - Bird: The Savoy Recordings (Master Takes)
My uncle gave me some of these sides on cassette when I was 9 or 10, a year or two after I started playing saxophone. The other side of the cassette was Coltrane’s Live at Birdland. I didn’t get around to listening to them until I was 12 or 13, and was pretty blown away when I did – some classic Parker at his best, with Dizzy, Miles, Max Roach, etc. etc.
2. John Coltrane - Live At Birdland
The other side of the Charlie Parker cassette my uncle gave me had this album on it. When I first listened to it I didn’t get it – the sound (especially on “Afro Blue”) sounded really thin and tinny, especially compared to Charlie Parker. Of course I was too young to have any idea what a soprano saxophone was. I kept listening to the album for years though – the unaccompanied cadenza at the end of “I Want To Talk About You” is still one of my favorite solos in jazz.
3. Duke Ellington - Live In Fargo North Dakota 1940
An early gift from my grandfather, probably when I was 12 or 13. Some classic Ellington stuff – the version of “Moose the Mooche” featuring Hodges on alto completely blew me away. One of the few things I’ve ever bothered to seriously transcribe.
4. Albert Ayler - Vibrations
My first and still my favorite Ayler record – with Don Cherry, Gary Peacock, and Sunny Murray. I think I bought this as opposed to something else because I knew Cherry from his work with Ornette, and loved it. The whole rhythm section concept was mind blowing though – Peacock and Sunny Murray completely tear apart the notion of jazz time.
5. Don Cherry - Symphony For Improvisers
Both the compositions and the band kill on this album – Cherry’s ability to maintain gorgeous and simple melodies while playing the foil to Pharoah Sanders AND Gato Barbieri’s volcanic playing is incredible.
6. Julius Hemphill - Reflections (Originally Released as Coon Bid’ness)
Perhaps my favorite (unsung) hero of the alto saxophone. Hemphill’s tunes and arrangements are incredible, but his interplay with Abdul Wadud and the stripped back drumming of Philip Wilson make this one of my favorites. Check out the last track “The Hard Blues…..”
7. Johnny Dyani - Song For Biko
The contribution that Dyani and his South African ex-pats made to the scene in Europe in the late 1960s and early ’70s is probably under-reported. All of his albums are incredible, but with the front line of Don Cherry and another undersung hero of the alto – Dudu Pukwana – this album is one of my favorites.
8. Thelonious Monk - Misterioso
Monk worked with incredible horn players (Coltrane, Rouse, Rollins, etc.), but my favorite stuff is the work he did with Johnny Griffin. This live album from the Five Spot sounds so playful, loose, and relaxed it makes me laugh every time I hear it. You can hear Griffin cut the band out in several parts for unaccompanied solos – “I got it, I got it, I got it……”
9. Serge Chaloff - Blue Serge
Some of the best baritone playing ever recorded, in my book. Chaloff can swell into a crescendo at the top of the horn like a lion, and then land his phrase pillow soft at the low end of the horn – totally gorgeous stuff.
10. Sun Ra - Interstellar Low Ways
I bought this cd at some point in high school and was blown away by the combination of what seemed like some traditional-sounding big band stuff with a flushed out percussion section, and some way out tunes about “Rocket Number 9” etc. etc. Still listening to it years later
By Dusted Magazine