Nate Wooley

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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 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.
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Columbia Icefield
Nate Wooley (trumpet and amplifier), Susan Alcorn (pedal steel guitar), Mary Halvorson or Ava Mendoza (electric guitar), Ryan Sawyer (drums and vocals)

This electric quartet is a new direction in Wooley’s musical aesthetic. A departure from his usual electro-acoustic work, with its leanings toward harsh noise, Columbia Icefield is the first recording of compositions inspired by the geographic site which gives the band its name. This massive mountain of ice feeds the Columbia river – the same that Wooley saw every day of his youth in Oregon at the river’s Pacific terminus.

The music here, while still dealing in the intensity and humanity of Wooley’s projects like Seven Storey Mountain and The Almond, are serene and stoic; a beautiful set of “songs” that are, as the composer admits, “the closest I’ve ever come to expressing the central tenet of who I am and where I’m from.”

The New York TImes selected their concert in New York among Best Classical Music of 2019 (‘classical’ in a very broad sense that is) “The prettiest, most progressive campfire music ever” 
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Mutual Aid Music
Nate Wooley (trumpet), Ingrid Laubrock (saxophone), Joshua Modney (violin), Mariel Roberts (cello), Sylvie Courvoisier and Cory Smythe (piano), Matt Moran and Russell Greenberg (percussion)

This is a new ensemble of Nate Wooley’s that furthers the ideas presented in Battle Pieces (consisting of Laubrock, Courvoisier, Moran and Wooley) and knknighgh (with Lotte Anker, Felix Henkelhausen and Dre Hocevar). Social Music, as he calls it, asks the musicians to support each other in the search for something new and interesting; a music that is not only greater than the compositional whole, but has the potential to make us rethink the balance between composition and improvisation.

MAM, which releases its first—self-titled—CD in April 2021 (Pleasure of the Text Records) is made up of a double quartet of some of the most interesting and skillful musicians in New York’s jazz and contemporary music worlds. Each of them are comfortable in crossing the boundaries between the two and have excellent reputations as composers, interpreters, and improvisers. Together, their music is proof that spontaneous interaction can be every bit as deep as a complex score and every bit as exciting as a totally free improvisation.

Although all eight players appear on the first recording, the ensemble is purposely designed to take different shapes for concert and touring purposes, ranging from trios to the full octet to ensemble plus local guests.
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Seven Storey Mountain
Seven Storey Mountain VI was called a “god-damn masterpiece” by critic Peter Margasak and featured as record of the year in his and El Intruso’s International Critics Poll for 2020. The piece is the sixth in Nate Wooley’s seven-part song cycle and is his largest, most complex, and most ecstatic composition to date. For its New York premiere in 2019, the group numbered 32 people: 11 instrumentalists and a 21 voice all-female choir. The on-stage group features some of the most iconoclastic voices in jazz and experimental music today, including Nate Wooley on trumpet, C. Spencer Yeh and Samara Lubelski on violins, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel guitar, Julien Desprez and Ava Mendoza on electric guitars, and Chris Corsano, Ben Hall, and Ryan Sawyer on drums alongside Isabelle O’Connell and Emily Manzo on electric pianos. New music superstar soprano Megan Schubert led the choir.

As with its predecessor, Seven Storey Mountain V, SSMVI requires a skeleton crew from the original performances to tour. Beyond that, there are possibilities for using local musicians, especially in the vocal parts, to fill out to full ensemble size. This piece also has been performed, in a smaller version, in Europe at the Gent Jazz Festival, with European performers filling out parts of the on-stage group as well.
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Website: Nate Wooley

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