Paul Lytton & Nate Wooley + Ikue Mori & Ken Vandermark – The Nows (CF 260)
Ultra-progressive jazz and avant-garde expressionism are trumpeter Nate Wooley’s toy stores, so to speak. He’s well-established in the modern era’s radical music scene and teams here with venerable Euro-jazz percussionist Paul Lytton, equating to a vivid snapshot of the duo’s 2011 US tour. Brilliant minds think alike, and the proof resides in the multifarious modes of delivery conjured up by these artists. It’s not only about stirring improvisational encounters, because the musicians also sculpture a seemingly endless array of sounds, employing multiphonics and tonal diversions amid moments of anguish, jocularity, and brazen exchanges.
Culled from the duo’s performance at The Stone in New York City, the musicians merge sheets of nimble movements, and use space to counter torrential downpours, often amplified by Wooley’s raspy-toned attack in conjunction with Lytton’s expansive arsenal and fluid pulses. A good deal of the album’s polytonal mechanisms stem from the percussionist’s armada of small implements, used to contour the perimeters of free-form expressionism, rather uncannily mustering a bigger presence, like a jagged histogram with a surfeit of dips and spikes. On “Automatic,” computer sound-shaping denizen Ikue Mori intersperses streaming effects and underlines the asymmetrical rhythmic component with buzzing intersections while generating an amorphous underpinning for her cohorts’ unwieldy dialogues.
Sax ace Ken Vandermark sits in with the duo during the show at Chicago’s Hideout venue, and is as an igniter on three tracks, where doomsday-like notions and a fast and furious chess match come to fruition. But Wooley and Lytton broadcast a myriad of heated developments. Through it all, Lytton’s snappy rhythms and Wooley’s fiery outbursts meld unusual tonal contrasts, brisk accentuations, and strangely ethereal sub-plots. In sum, the musicians project a symposium of fleeting thoughts and emotional upheavals while sustaining interest from beginning to end.