By Dave Rempis / Tashi Dorji Duo


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This overdue duo record by longtime colleagues Tashi Dorji (guitar) and Dave Rempis (saxophones) is a monument to the endless musical curiosity that links them. These two come at it from remarkably different backgrounds – Dorji combining his Bhutanese ethnicity with a love for metal, punk, American blues and folk, and anarchist political theory, with Rempis riding the outer edges of the jazz world throughout his career, while also inspired by his Greek ethnicity and a longstanding interest in folk musics from around the globe. The genre-less record that results here is astounding. With no allegiance to any specific orthodoxy, the two create something wholly new from their disparate vocabularies.

This end-result isn’t just a matter of open-minded listening though. The two have put in some serious elbow grease since 2017 when they first came together as a duo on the extensive solo tour that Rempis undertook across the US that spring. Performing together in Dorji’s hometown of Asheville, the two spurred one another on with back-to-back solo sets that ratcheted up the fire, before coming together in a shared union of volcanic proportions. That initial meeting soon led to the formation of the trio Kuzu with drummer Tyler Damon, which has toured extensively, and released five outstanding records since 2018.

Over the past couple of years, the two have also decided to re-visit the more stripped back duo context as a way to re-discover the underlying tendons of what’s become a profound musical relationship. In 2023, they headed out on a string of duo performances including a widely heralded set at FIMAV in Victoriaville, QC that May, and a stretch of dates in the southeastern US in October, all in preparation for the live January 2024 recording session from which Gnash emerged. For that session, the two met up on Rempis’ month-long Thursday-night residency at the Hungry Brain in Chicago, then ventured up north the following evening for a concert at Milwaukee’s beloved Sugar Maple, a homebase where the two have recorded twice before. Playing to a packed-out house on a cold midwestern Friday evening, Rempis and Dorji channeled the energy and anticipation from the crowd into two sets of patient, deliberate, and focused creativity.

On a special note, this album marks Rempis’ recorded debut on soprano saxophone, an instrument left to him by friend and mentor Mars Williams when he passed in November 2023 after a year-long battle with cancer. Rempis regards this new ax as a homework assignment that’s gotta be giving Williams, the consummate prankster, a hearty laugh each time he hears Rempis struggle through some of the many challenges this beast of a horn presents. Thanks Mars!

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