Tag Archives: Eivind Opsvik

All About Jazz Italy review by Vincenzo Roggero

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne Of Friendship (CF 280)
Si respira aria di festa in (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship ultima fatica discografica del trombettista e compositore Nate Wooley. Si avverte quella sensazione un po’ démodé che solo il circo o il luna park sono in grado di offrire, tra momenti di eccitazione per le novità o per le mirabolanti avventure promesse, rassicuranti sensazioni dalle cose che non cambiano, profumi invitanti che sanno d’altri tempi.

La strumentazione è insolita con quattro strumenti dai registri gravi— clarinetto basso, sax baritono, tuba e contrabbasso—a fungere da liquido di contrasto per gli interventi lucenti del vibrafono e per le multiformi sembianze assunte dalla tromba del leader. L’ampio uso di tecniche estese passa inosservato rispetto alla miriade di sfumature che Wooley dissemina con sapienza e noncuranza, ai continui cambi di atmosfera, alle sorprese dispensate da una stanza degli specchi sonora deformante e bizzarra.

Tutto scivola via con naturalezza, come se una mano invisibile tirasse i fili dei singoli strumenti seguendo il ritmo della natura, assecondando irregolarità di percorso e cambi di umore. Wooley oltre che trombettista innovativo si rivela compositore non convenzionale e leader dalla forte personalità in grado di dar risalto alle peculiarità dei singoli in funzione di una chiara progettualità.

Downbeat review by Peter Margasak

Few trumpeters find and develop disparate contexts and projects as assiduously as Nate Wooley, a fiercely original and curious horn player who straddles the divide between jazz and abstract improvisation as if it was a mere crack in the sidewalk. These two new recordings capture him in wildly different settings, for which he masterfully calibrates his sound and approach to suit the needs of each, yet  his personality shines through on both.

CF 282Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpets and Drums: Live in Ljubljana (CF 282)
Live in Ljubljana is a fully improvised quartet set that puts him in the company of two of his most trusted duo partners: fellow trumpeter Peter Evans and drummer Paul Lytton. Drummer Jim Black, a regular member of the quintet led by Evans, rounds out the Trumpets and Drums quartet. For the majority of the album’s two lengthy pieces, wryly titled “Beginning” and “End,” the horn players dig into their huge bags of extended technique, blowing sibilant growls, unpitched breaths, machine-like sputters, brittle whinnies, and more. But rather that come off as a predictable catalog of sounds, the pair reveal a stunning connection, playing off one another with rare empathy and ensemble-oriented focus. But the bond between Wooley and Evans is hardly the only connection at work here. Lytton and Black contribute a veritable thicket of frictive clatter and percolating chaos, but never at the sake of forward propulsion.

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) the Throne of Friendship (CF 280)
(Sit In) the Throne of Friendship was recorded with a dazzling, resourceful sextet. The disc not only shows off Wooley’s deep jazz roots on demonstrates his startling growth as a composer and arranger. The album opens with a sparkling adaptation of Randy Newman’s “Old Man on the Farm,” setting the tone with some bracing multi-linear improvisation between himself, reedist Josh Sinton, and tuba player Dan Peck. Wooley deftly scurries between clarion-toned lines that suggest the influence of Dave Douglas, especially the half-valved fluidity, and the scuffed, striated sounds generated with extended technique, fitting both aesthetics into the flow of his compositions. Wooley’s multipartite tunes make exceptional use of his scrappy ensemble, giving them a deceptive orchestral quality. While there’s little about this session that sounds like Birth of the Cool, the agility of Peck reminds me of Bill Barber’s smooth, dominant presence on that Miles Davis classic, while the sometimes shimmering, sometimes dissonant vibraphone lines of Matt Moran adds an additional layer of cool to the proceedings.

Wooley’s tunes are packed with attractive melodies that wind and wend though ever-shifting timbres thanks to inventive, rich arrangements that keep the sonic landscape in constant motion. There are plenty of solos here, but there’s no blowing over cycling forms. Wooley’s technical imagination and mastery of jazz fundamentals has been established already, but this new sextet effort definitely adds notches to his belt.

Free Jazz review by Stef Gissels

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne Of Friendship (CF 280)
Music fans who are familiar with Nate Wooley’s latest releases will be surprised to hear the other side of the trumpeter’s musical vision, one that is less focused on sound and technique, but more on composition and arrangements, and with equal success I must say.

The band is actually an extension of Wooley’s quintet that released “(Put Your) Hands Together”, with tuba-player Dan Peck as the new member, next to Wooley on trumpet, Josh Sinton on bass clarinet and baritone saxophone, Matt Moran on vibes, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Harris Eisenstadt on drums.

The music is as inventive and varied as on the first album, yet taking even a step further, making it more memorable in that sense, maybe more complex, more compelling, with solos that just go a notch deeper and stronger, in such a way that you want to listen again and again, because even if all sounds are quite easy to get into, and are welcoming and warm from the first listen, the compositions and arrangements develop in unpredictable ways, with lots of tempo and rhythm changes within each track, making it an almost mandatory gesture to push on the start button again, just to make sure you understood what was happening, and especially how it all fits together and how it works out so nicely.

The album opens with the magnificent theme of “Old Man On The Farm”, so beautiful and moving, that you wonder whether this is truly Wooley you’re listening to, but then the theme collapses in absolute free improvisation with great duets between trumpet and bass clarinet, spiralling upwards, in absolute frenzy, then move back into the unison theme with Swiss clock precision.

The album also gives us a grand tour of jazz history, with boppish moments as on the second track, “Make Your Friend Feel Loved”, on which Dan Peck plays a lead role, with deep intro growls from his tuba gradually picking up rhythm, Eisenstadt and Moran joining soon, then Wooley Sinton Opsvik bring the theme, things change into hesitant stalling chords, going nowhere at all like a track stand in cycling, full of built-up tension, only to be released by a boppish “walking tuba” underpinning for a great solo by Wooley, full of joy and anger at the same time, things come to a halt again, the theme resurfaces and Sinton shouts through his baritone for his solo part.

“The Berries” offers Moran the stage for a long solo moment in between a jubliant unison theme that is fun although somewhat too mellow for my taste.

Things get better again with “Plow”, with odd thematic counterpoints as beacons in an otherwise open-ended structure, with solos for Opsvik  in the first part, and some weird trialogue between trumpet, vibes and bass clarinet in the second.

“Executive Suites” is a strange animal, with changing themes, rhythms and moods even, varying between funny and solemn, with complex arrangements and sudden surprises.

“My Story My Story” is a melancholy piece that starts rhythm-less with muted trumpet tones over slow vibes which sound like church bells in the distance, and with bass and tuba adding darkness in the lower tones, over slowly changing ascending chord changes, then halfway an explicit slow blues emerges with Wooley unmuting his horn, playing some astonishing fully voiced multiphonics, then sounding like Lester Bowie in “The Great Pretender”, heartrending and deeply emotional.

“Sweet And Sad Consistency”, has a contemplative beginning which evolves into a stomping uptempo 7/8 juggernaut with Sinton blowing some hair-raising howls out of his baritone sax, in stark contrast to Wooley’s warm introduction, while bass and drums are more of the headbanging kind, but when the band is at full throttle, the thing stops for some side conversation of the low volume kind, all this in sharp contradiction with the track’s title.

The album ends with “A Million Billion BTUs”, a composition built around several themes, one more sweeping, the other interestingly accelerating, with changes of tempo throughout and great solo space for Wooley, Sinton and Moran.

So, now listen to this album, and again and again. To describe it in a few words is hard, as you can understand from the above, but here is a try : a warm and heartfelt album, full of inventive compositions, building on various elements of jazz tradition, yet moving it a step further into the future, performed with superb musicianship and equally warm and tight interplay.

Play it again!

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

CF 282Joe Morris/Agustí Fernández/Nate Wooley – From the Discrete to the Particular (Relative Pitch)
Nate Wooley/Peter Evans/Jim Black/Paul Lytton – Trumpets and Drums (Live in Ljubljana) (CF 282)
Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (CF 280)
CF 280Nate Wooley is among a group of distinguished younger trumpeters redefining the sonic possibilities of the instrument. More than that though, he combines both rare invention and rare taste across a stylistic range that stretches from free improvisation to his own version of postbop.

The trio of Wooley, guitarist Joe Morris and pianist Agustí Fernández that appears on From the Discrete to the Particular has its antecedents in Morris’ prior duos with Wooley and Fernández. It’s free improvisation of the first rank, with each of the seven pieces a developed musical dialogue defining its own timbres and shape, whether it’s the pointillist sputters of the opening “Automatos”, the flurries of discrete sounds that firstmark “As Expected” or the oblique harmonic language of “Bilocation” that flowers into an evanescent lyricism created by all three musicians. “Membrane” suggests an early John Cage prepared piano sonata extended to a collective. The longest pieces, “Hieratic” and “Chumsof Chance”, are works of transformation, whether Morris sounding like the interior of a piano on the former and a bowed cello on the latter; Fernández mounting a virtuosic keyboard assault or creating a resonant soundscape or Wooley drawing out pained multiphonics or assembling wild scratching sounds.

Trumpets and Drums (Live in Ljubljana) is a dialogue between the two fundamental sonic components of the title. If there’s a martial tradition to trumpet and drum music there’s also a mystical one, as with Joshua and the battle of Jericho, but stronger still in the Tibetan Buddhist ritual music that combines long bass trumpets with metal and skin percussion. The quartet is built on several developed affinities: Wooley has long-running duos with both fellow trumpeter Peter Evans and drummer Paul Lytton; Evans has played with Lytton as a guest with the Parker-Guy-Lytton trio and Jim Black has played drums in Evans’ quartet. The performance is divided into two long segments, entitled “Beginning” and “End” and within those parameters there are moments of near silence, whispered trumpet tones and air through horns, gentle percussive rattlings, eerie scrapes and rustlings that demand rapt attention. Quavering electronics might arise from Wooley’s amplifier or from Black’s expanded kit. Elsewhere the reare moments of incendiary power, elemental music focused on mysteries of intensity and pitch.

The Nate Wooley Sextet is a variation on the Quintet that recorded 2010’s (Put Your) Hands Together. A forum for Wooley’s compositions, (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship retains bass clarinetist/baritone saxophonist Josh Sinton, vibraphonist Matt Moran and drummer Harris Eisenstadt while bassist Eivind Opsvik either alternates with newly arrived tuba player Dan Peck or they appear together. The style suggests the Blue Note ‘free’ school and the simultaneous presence of vibraphone and bass clarinet emphasizes the Eric Dolphy influence (“Make Your Friend Feel Loved” seems to reference Dolphy’s “G.W.”). This is exploratory, varied music, alive with passion and dialogue. It’s also exuberant, whether Sinton shouting through his baritone or Peck crafting an unaccompanied introduction. While Wooley is as ‘athome’ with free improvisation as any musician, the forms here emphasize the expressiveness of his lines: on the mournful “My Story, My Story” he combines variations of pitch and inflection to achieve an emotional depth equal to that of Miles Davis or Don Cherry, rare terrain for any trumpeter.

Expresso review by João Santos

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (SIT IN) THE THRONE OF FRIENDSHIP (CF 280)
Zeloso curador na eminente “Database of Recorded American Music” e inspirado editor e redator na trimestral “Sound American”, Nate Wooley vasculha habilmente nesse espaço em que se arquivam as vanguardas norte-americanas. Quer isto dizer que, contrariamente à opinião comum, que deprecia aspetos hereditários em manifestações artísticas de singular configuração – e, durante anos, Wooley foi tido como um xamane do insólito –, o trompetista cumpre os requisitos para que se entenda a sua ação à luz de um, quiçá subterrâneo, contínuo cultural, no qual, por entre um número excecional de forças expressivas, cabe, naturalmente, essa que se pratica numa jurisdição invulgarmente atenta aos direitos de sucessão e se apelida de jazz. Seria, aliás, presunçoso e injusto considerar que a sua produção – ao lado da de análogos instrumentistas como Peter Evans, Greg Kelley, Franz Hautzinger ou Axel Dörner, invariavelmente coadunados na estirpe de Bill Dixon – se gerava, qual erva-daninha, espontânea e invasoramente. Dir-se-á que o quinteto – agora, com o ingresso do tubista Dan Peck, expandido para sexteto – há dois anos responsável por “(Put Your) Hands Together” se formou para dar resposta a esta questão, ainda que salvaguardando uma premissa essencial: afiançar que cada um dos seus agentes não se aliena no conjunto de vínculos históricos que possa reivindicar. Ou seja, Wooley, Peck, Josh Sinton (saxofone barítono e clarinete baixo), Matt Moran (vibrafone), Eivind Opsvik (contrabaixo) e Harris Eisenstadt (bateria) promovem aqui – numa sessão que tem como único senão uma escrita nem sempre à altura dos acontecimentos – uma genial abstração do pendor relacional no jazz contemporâneo, evocando simultaneamente as mais extáticas e elegantes características que procedem da sua fundação enquanto linguagem. Um caso sério.

Time Out Lisboa review by Jose Carlos Fernandes

Um banquete para o espírito

A editora lisboeta Clean Feed continua, indiferente a crises económicas e colapsos do mercado discográfico, a propor acepipes raros. José Carlos Fernandes degustou três lançamentos recentes e ficou confortado

A dimensão de um grupo de jazz nem sempre decorre de opções estéticas ou da disponibilidade e empatia dos músicos – as condicionantes económicas também pesam e, sobretudo no jazz mais afastado do mainstream, dificultam seriamente a sobrevivência prolongada de formações com mais de três ou quatro elementos. É pois com redobrado interesse que se acolhem três discos que dão testemunho da riqueza de combinações que os quintetos e sextetos permitem.

CF 279O contrabaixista Mark Dresser tem uma obra em nome próprio desproporcionadamente breve (quando se atende ao seu enorme talento e experiência) e que é dominada por discos a solo, em duo e em trio. Nourishments (****), gravado por um super-quinteto com Rudresh Mahanthappa (sax), Michael Dessen (trombone), Denman Maroney (piano) e Tom Rainey ou Michael Sarin (bateria), é, pois, peça invulgar. A variedade e generosidade prometidas na recheada mesa da capa são mais que cumpridas no interior: as ideias que desfilam ao longo dos 14 minutos de “Canales Rose” bastariam para sustentar toda a carreira de muitos músicos de jazz que, apesar do prestígio e dos Grammies coleccionados, se limitam a repetir receitas consabidas. Em “Nourishments” Mahanthappa e Dessen engalfinham-se em vertiginosas perseguições sobre secção rítmica ondulante, “Para Waltz” é sereno e melancólico, com Dresser a mostrar a sua arte com o arco, e em “Not Withstanding” o piano preparado de Maroney zumbe como um insecto gigante.

CF 280Depois de construir impressionante currículo como sidemen, o trompetista Nate Wooley estreou-se em quinteto em 2011 com (Put Your) Hands Together. O sexteto que agora se estreia com (Sit In) The throne of friendship (****) não se limita a somar Dan Peck (tuba) a Josh Sinton (clarinete baixo), Matt Moran (vibrafone), Eivind Opsvik (contrabaixo) e Harris Eisenstadt (bateria). As composições e arranjos ganham imenso em elaboração, os instrumentos são emparelhados em combinações invulgares, a tensão e distensão são sabiamente controladas e o resultado exibe uma variedade de cores e texturas dignas de uma orquestra. O CD arranca com uma inspirada recriação do meloso “Old Man On the Farm”, de Randy Newman, que vai sendo tomado pela abrasão e pelo caos; em “Make Your Friend Feel Loved” um post-bop zombeteiro é sequestrado pelo sax barítono de Sinton e convertido numa correria desencabrestada; “My Story, My Story”, é uma ilha brumosa e estática na efervescência dominante.

CF 270Ches Smith & These Arches passaram em 2011 pelo Seixal Jazz e quem não foi ouvi-los ficará arrependido ao escutar Hammered (*****), o segundo disco da formação, que passou, entretanto, a quinteto pela adição do sax alto de Tim Berne. Qualquer grupo gostaria de ter Berne ou Tony Malaby (sax tenor) nas suas fileiras, mas These Arches tem os dois e ainda a guitarra imprevisível de Mary Halvorson, o acordeão e electrónica multiformes de Andrea Parkins e, claro, a bateria irrequieta do líder. Na faixa de abertura, “Frisner”, as fanfarras dementes sobre ritmos quebrados sucumbem à psicose e à adstringência, mas acabam por retomar o tom jocoso, “Wilson Phillip” é a banda sonora de um filme de acção on acid, que acaba por descarrilar e desmantelar-se, a faixa-título é uma máquina implacável propulsionada por riffs demolidores. Que os turbilhões cacofónicos que cruzam a paisagem de Hammered não iludam o ouvinte desatento: esta loucura tem método  e as constantes mudanças de ritmo, colorido e humor são traçadas em papel milimétrico.

Três discos que permitem descobrir travos e aromas diferentes a cada nova degustação.

All About Jazz review by Troy Collins

CF 280Nate Wooley Sextet – (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (CF 280)
Since arriving in New York City in 2001, Nate Wooley has established himself as one of the most inventive trumpet players of his generation. In addition to the admiration of his peers, including fellow trumpeters like Taylor Ho Bynum Peter Evans and Kirk Knuffke, Wooley has earned the respect of esteemed scene veterans, such as Dave Douglas, who said “Nate Wooley is one of the most interesting and unusual trumpet players living today, and that is without hyperbole.”

Wooley’s unorthodox virtuosity incorporates a wide variety of extended techniques that exponentially expand the expressive range of his horn. From breathy under-pressurized microtones to coruscating overblown dissonances, Wooley’s multihued sound palette transcends prescribed notions of conventional tonality. Though his willfully abstract approach lends itself well to free improvisation, his formative years spent crafting concise thematic solos in a traditional big band environment instilled an ecumenical sensibility that informs his artistry to this day.

In addition to intimate solo recitals and experimental performances involving extreme amplification and feedback, Wooley has maintained a steadily working acoustic group featuring multi-instrumentalist Josh Sinton (on bass clarinet and baritone saxophone) as his vivacious frontline partner, with vibraphonist Matt Moran  and either bassist Eivind Opsvik or tuba player Dan Peck as alternating members of a pliant rhythm section underpinned by drummer Harris Eisenstadt, whose Canada Day ensemble shares similar instrumentation and personnel, including Wooley.

(Put Your) Hands Together (Clean Feed, 2011), the debut of Wooley’s Quintet, offered a notable demonstration of his leadership skills. (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship is the premier of his Sextet, an augmented version of the abovementioned Quintet, which features both Opsvik and Peck performing in tandem. Expanding upon the territory explored on the previous release, Wooley and company imbue beguiling melodies and captivating rhythms with freewheeling episodes of bold invention, interweaving appealing themes with acerbic textures.

The stately counterpoint of compositions like “Plow” and “Executive Suites” best exemplify Wooley’s flair for juxtaposing effervescent harmonies and jarring discordances, setting Moran’s incandescent flourishes and Eisenstadt’s nimble accents against Opsvik, Peck and Sinton’s subterranean rumblings. In contrast to the neo-classical meditation “The Berries,” the band members’ fervent extrapolations on “Make Your Friend Feel Loved” push into vanguard territory, with Sinton’s frenzied baritone histrionics rivaling Herb Robertson

‘s infamously manic vocalizations. The leader’s similarly ardent statements on the aforementioned number seamlessly integrate quicksilver bop cadences with abrasive metallic shards, while his earthy ruminations on “My Story, My Story” transpose raw expressionism into mature, heartrending lyricism.

(Sit In) The Throne of Friendship is a salient example of Wooley’s diversified talents as a soloist, writer and bandleader. Reinforcing the album’s titular theme is the affable rapport of Wooley’s empathetic sidemen, whose conversational interplay brings his engagingly adventurous tunes to life.

Ni Kantu review by Clifford Allen

NATE WOOLEY QUINTET – (Put Your) Hands Together (CF 218)
Trumpeter and improvising composer Nate Wooley is a tough person to keep a bead on, mainly because with each passing year, his discography gets ever lengthier and his work broadens in scope. Able to bridge the worlds of modern creative (jazz) and noise/experimental music with seeming little effort, the intrepid listener/collector has a lot to keep track of. Another challenge is the fact that he approaches each end of that spectrum with honesty, curiosity, and believability – in other words, he sounds utterly convincing as a noise musician as he does a jazz player, which is far from an easy feat. On (Put Your) Hands Together, Wooley leads a quintet that follows in the framework of modal post-bop that his work in drummer Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day evinces, but with a decidedly hard-edged spin. He’s joined by Eisenstadt and Canada Day bassist Eivind Opsvik, vibraphonist Matt Moran and Josh Sinton on bass clarinet for a program of ten originals, three of which are different versions of the piece “Shanda Lea,” named for Wooley’s wife. In fact, all of the compositions here are named for important women in the trumpeter’s life.

The first iteration of “Shanda Lea” opens the disc, heartfelt and lilting cadenzas with little turns and swallows that bridge harrowing flurries. There would be a tendency to hear this as a starting coda, or even a run-through of approaches to the trumpet, but it is in fact a self-contained and poetic solo composition that more than holds its own. The title track follows and is strikingly reminiscent of Andrew Hill’s “Ghetto Lights” in its laconic slink; Wooley’s solo takes on the hardbop lexicon and toys with it, building out from Woody Shaw-like arpeggios into bold, screaming peals and subtonal chatter. Sinton follows in trio with free-time squawk that gets into the low-down dirty side of Dolphy to an almost grotesque degree. It’s hard not to think of Bobby Hutcherson in Moran’s glassy swing, ricocheting off the push of Eisenstadt’s drums before Wooley and Sinton return with the head. “Erna” is a different sort of piece, bowed vibes and soft patter leading before the quintet moves cautiously into a march, unifying iterations of the stair-stepped theme. From a short Sinton-Wooley duo on “Shanda Lea,” moving from stateliness to daring pierce, the quintet returns for “Ethyl” and its hanging, cyclical minimalism. While the bar lines reflect roundly suspended areas and quiet control, the improvised sections allow Sinton stretching room over a tugging rhythm. The degree to which Wooley has orchestrated this ensemble allows one to hear beyond his voicings in duo with Opsvik, or in a cracking trio with Eisenstadt, and feel the entirety of the group without necessarily anticipating its direction. Sure, this is a strong “jazz quintet” record, but Hands Together is so well organized and diverse that it is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

Nate Wooley – (Put Your) Hands Together (CF 218 )
With Nate Wooley, and with his latest quintet album (Put Your) Hands Together (Clean Feed CF218CD), there is plenty to suggest that growth is a factor. Nate as an artist, trumpet-composer-bandleader, does not stand still. It’s a very balanced album with a band that provides the freewheeling solo work you would expect from Nate’s outfit, yet also has developed an ensemble sound, thanks in part to Nate’s compositions-arrangements, but also thanks to the sensibilities of the players involved. Some of these players were a part of Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day II, which I covered a few days ago. These are players that obviously seek each other’s company because of stylistic affinities. And that is a sort of controlled freedom that stresses the collective and the individual, fire and subtlety, spontaneity and form.

Everybody contibutes here. And Nate’s trumpet is a smouldering fire that breaks into a bright flame when the time is right, but also can have a quietly searching quality. The charts, the group and the trajectory of the album follows his muse accordingly.

This is excellent ensemble jazz of the modern kind. Like so many releases coming out of Clean Feed lately, it establishes that “inside” and “outside” have their limitations as categories. The music is both. The music is neither. The music is worth your time.

Paris Transatlantic review by Stuart Broomer

Nate Wooley Quintet – (PUT YOUR) HANDS TOGETHER (CF 218 )
Nate Wooley has a compound identity as a trumpeter. On one hand, he’s created a body of work in free improvisation (as a soloist and in duos with Paul Lytton, Chris Forsyth and Peter Evans) preoccupied with exploring the trumpet’s sonic possibilities and issues of space, duration and free interaction. Conversely, he’s also a sideman in some highly creative but more traditional jazz groups, like the Daniel Levin Quartet and Harris Eisenstadt’s Canada Day. Wooley’s own quintet dates from 2008, and it clearly represents a coming-together of those interests, an attentiveness to both the minutiae of sound and the exploration of group relations within loose forms, the combination creating profoundly nuanced work.

The Levin and Eisenstadt groups are mentioned here for more than a casual CV: the Wooley quintet has a closely related instrumentation to both and with them articulates a very specific tradition. The trumpeter shares the front-line with Josh Sinton, here a dedicated bass clarinettist, there’s a rhythm section of bassist Eivind Opsvik on bass and Eisenstadt on drums and vibraphonist Mat Moran covers the middle ground (chordal, comping) usually reserved for a piano. Moran is a member of the Levin group and the quintet-with-vibraphone format is similar to Eisenstadt’s own band. It establishes a common parallel to several bands that recorded for Blue Note in the 60s, led by Jackie McLean, Don Cherry and most notably Eric Dolphy, and it reflects an historical sense of a group language that all of those bands participated in—funk and freedom, the etched and the resonant, the lingering electric haze of the vibraphone—right down to the slinky, soulful figure that introduces the Wooley quintet on the shifting “Hands Together.” While Sinton’s bass clarinet—often in his hands a vocalic explosion—might seem like special homage to Dolphy’s Out to Lunch, it also emphasizes a particular layering of overtone patterns with the trumpet and vibraphone that contributes to the band’s sonic character.
Before “Come Together,” you’ve already had an introductory unaccompanied trumpet solo on the first of three versions of a piece called “Shanda Lea.” As that repeating theme suggests, Wooley’s interests in reflection and recirculation are often at the fore: the CD’s bracketing solos can evoke shakuhachi meditations and the chattering muted trumpets of New Orleans, like a Joe Oliver discourse on the dharma. That sense of return is so strong that the last group piece, “Hazel,” is a round with bass and bass clarinet picking up the trumpet melody. While there are relatively brief, chamber music-like reveries, like the stately “Erna” and the brief and evanescent “Pearl,” which emphasize composition and texture, the most engaging music here is also the most sustained: longer group explorations like “Cecelia,” a piece that superimposes a rapid pointillist line atop hovering vibes and bass. In its development, it doesn’t just present a string of soloists but a continuous dialogue in which each new lead voice emerges organically from both composition and collective, highlighting the individual contributions of Moran, Opsvik and Eisenstadt.
There’s a special grace in Nate Wooley’s lines throughout, a sense of order and sequence that will link the warmest melodic extrusion, interpolated quarter-tone run, sudden Bronx cheer and spear-like blast of pure brass. This is music of the first order, attentiveness to sonic detail informing its every gesture.