Nate Wooley

Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Nate Wooley – trumpet, amplifier

Wooley’s solo playing has often been cited as being a part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet. Along with Peter Evans and Greg Kelley, Wooley is considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, as well as demolishing the way trumpet is perceived in a historical context still overshadowed by Louis Armstrong. A combination of vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor has led one reviewer to call his solo recordings “exquisitely hostile”.

Wooley has released a number of solo recordings, starting with 2005’s “Wrong Shape to be a Storyteller” on Creative Sources and including everything from short minimalist studies (The Boxer, [EMR 2006]), to alien acoustic soundscapes (Trumpet/Amplifier [Smeraldina-Rima 2009]), laminal trumpet and tape compositions (The Almond [Pogus 2011]), and raw, abstract conceptual work (8 Syllables [Peira 2011]). Wooley’s most recent solo work is a split LP with fellow trumpet experimentalist Peter Evans on Dead CEO records.

The recordings, however, only play a role in the structuring of his live performances. Wooley strives for intimacy in his solo performances, often engaging the audience in a combination of acoustic and amplified sound that steers between virtuosic abstraction and sincere tunefulness. His solo performances are lauded as being totally “human”, a performer providing a certain sense of vulnerability and willingness to push his own physical boundaries while constantly pulling the audience into be part of the experience.

Nate Wooley Quintet 

Since 2008, the Nate Wooley quintet has been involved in recasting the hard bop and free bop jazz traditions of the 1960s and 70s.  Their first album, (Put Your) Hands Together, released in 2011 on Clean Feed Records was a musical love letter from Wooley to the women that raised him; his grandmother, great aunts, mother, and wife Shanda. It was released to rave reviews in the New York Times, Jazz Times, Down Beat and many other publications.  The recording was considered one of the best records of the year by the New York City Jazz Record in 2011.

In 2013 (Sit in) the Throne of Friendship was released, also on Clean Feed (by the Nate Wooley Sextet, including tuba player Dan Peck).

(Dance To) The Early Music, their third album (2015), explores a new and, to some, dangerous musical territory – the music of Wynton Marsalis. This is no ironic replay or remix of iconic jazz records, though. What’s found within is a semi-nostalgic vision of Wooley’s early experiences of listening to Black Codes (from the Underground), J Mood, and other early Marsalis records, and an experiment in alternate creative time lines. The path followed by Wooley and his usual cohorts, is to look at Marsalis’s early recordings through the lens of their own paths, instilling pieces like Delfeayo’s Dilemma and Skain’s Domain with a generous amount of the free-wheeling swing and freedom that the listener expects from the Nate Wooley Quintet. The result is a fictional narrative of what Wynton’s music may have sounded like filtered through British improv, hard noise, and contemporary compositional technique. What is found on this record, then, is not homage or an inside joke. It is five gentlemen playing some of the music they love with as much of their own personality as they can possibly give.

The quintet includes some of the brightest lights in the New York jazz scene:

Harris Eisenstadt on drums  (Canada Day, Woodblock Prints, Paul Rutherford, Myra Melford), Matt Moran on vibraphone (John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet, Joe Maneri), Josh Sinton on bass clarinet and baritone saxophone (Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, Ideal Bread), Eivind Opsvik on bass (Paul Motian, Mat Maneri, Tony Malaby)

Battle Pieces

Nate Wooley (trumpet and compositions), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones), Sylvie Courvoisier (piano), Matt Moran (vibraphone)

Battle Pieces places the improviser up front. This all-star quartet navigates Wooley’s radical new compositions. .

Each member of the quartet is soloist for one piece, written to highlight and push the limits of their improvising vocabulary, switching to play with the notated trio on the others.

Battle Pieces are designed to be ever-changing and always growing. For that reason, Wooley has picked three of the most interesting, capable, and expansive musicians in New York to explore the ideas contained in this expansive world. Ingrid Laubrock is quickly becoming the dominant voice on jazz saxophone, being recently named the Rising Star soprano player in Downbeat’s 2015 Critic’s Poll. Matt Moran is an under-recognized hero of improvised music and has worked with John Hollenbeck’s Claudia Quintet for over a decade. Sylvie Courvoisier is known as a master colorist and, as this recording attests, a powerful manipulator of all parts of the piano and works regularly with John Zorn and Mark Feldman.

A live recording from Anthony Braxton’s Tricentric Festival (the event which commissioned Wooley for these pieces) was released on the Relative Pitch label early 2015. In January 2016 they toured Europe for the first time.

Duo Nate Wooley / Paul Lytton

Wooley regularly plays together with Paul Lytton (percussion and electronics). For the past five years they have been redefining the improvising duo, taking up where Lytton and Evan Parker left off in the middle 1970s.Wooley and Lytton have played with various guests, including Fred Frith, C. Spencer Yeah, Okkyung Lee, Evan Parker, John Russell, Phil Wachsmann, Joe Morris, Marilyn Crispell, Ikue Mori and Ken Vandermark. With the last two they recorded “The Nows’, which came out on clean feed in 2012.

Website: Nate Wooley

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