Nate Wooley Sextet: (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (2013)
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.
Track Listing: Old Man on the Farm; Make Your Friend Feel Loved; The Berries; Plow; Executive Suites; My Story, My Story; Sweet and Sad Consistency; A Million Billion BTUs.
Personnel: Nate Wooley: trumpet; Josh Sinton: bass clarinet and baritone saxophone; Matt Moran: vibraphone; Eivind Opsvik: double bass; Dan Peck: tuba; Harris Eisenstadt: drums.
Record Label: Clean Feed Records
Style: Modern Jazz