Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpet and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Given the unorthodox instrumentation, there’s a little more than meets the eyes and ears on this quartet effort recorded at a jazz festival in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Each musician is highly respected within the progressive and avant jazz communities. Yet the band doesn’t bridge the playing field with tireless bashing and cacophonous exchanges, which are components that may seem inherent under the assumption that the unorthodox group format may be conducive to a free-form crash and burn contest. On the contrary, they engage in a wide-open platform, tinted with subtle electronics, harrowing soundscapes, nimble contrasts, playful interludes and gushing apexes all immersed within an improvisational schema.
Trumpeters Nate Wooley and Peter Evans extract about every conceivable sound from their horns via breathy or raspy intonations and other nuances that are at times, difficult to separate from drummer Jim Black’s faint electronics treatments. Containing two extended pieces, Black and drummer Paul Lytton use space as an added voice, but also support the hornists with smack, dab, and hustling asymmetrical grooves that sort of defies time and space.
On the first track “Beginning,” the band imparts dense mosaics, manifested by the trumpeters’ brawny extended notes, summoning a bizarre soundscape amid sublime patterns and offsetting statements. Here, the drummers provide additional color and shadings with periodic breaks between activities. Black’s concise use of electronics fuse mystical or haunting undertones into the big picture, although the quartet eventually builds up steam and rises to a zenith with lofty crescendos.
Undulating currents prevail as they toggle between first and tenth gears. But “End” offers more delectable twists and turns, where atmospherics and rich textures interconnect the artists’ variable momentum. The drummers help shape the proceedings, embedded with the band’s give and take exchanges and spooky backdrops. Moreover, the hornists intertwine some soul-drenched choruses into their expressive phrasings and drawling notes. So, if you’re in need of something out of the ordinary when considering the avant-garde jazz spectrum, this vastly inventive and cunning program may fulfill that requirement or perhaps exceed all preconceived expectations.