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Nate Wooley somehow maintains a relatively low profile among younger trumpeters, a group traditionally given an excess of attention, but it may just be that he's hard to pin down. His quality as a free improviser exploring extended techniques comes brilliantly to the fore on these releases.
Trumpet/Amplifier is a solo LP produced in an edition of 496 with a silk-screened cover. The music is in every way worthy of the distinctive release. Wooley's trumpet solos are, simply, technical marvels. There's nothing to suggest that it's simply one man playing a trumpet in a room. There are some identifiable trumpet elements and many sounds that suggest brass, valves and wind, but the complexity of the soundssimultaneous tones of utterly different character that start and end independently of one another; weird granular textures; percussion effects; etc.suggest anything but that solitary acoustic trumpeter. "Trumpet A," in particular, includes sudden interruptions in sound that resemble electronic glitches, though they're not, and weird sputtering glissandi that sound like digital balloons. The piece "Amplifier" edits together two live performances of amplified trumpet; at times a flamboyant electronic improvisation bursts forth, as though Wooley has somehow transposed one of Jimi Hendrix' wilder feedback flights to trumpet. If the American trumpet has now entered the terrain of the English saxophone what's crucial is the meaning over the mechanics. Wooley is producing profound work, conducting a voyage to the interior of music and the self that has been secreted in the mechanism of the trumpet.
Wooley's connection to European free improvisation is explicit in his duo with a major figure of the movement, Paul Lytton, on Creak Above 33. The duo is both trans-generational and trans-Atlantic and first got together in 2007 (hear the release on Broken Research). They've toured as a duo since then and played with several third parties, including Fred Frith, Marilyn Crispell and Christian Weber, developing a special rapport in the process. It's evident from the opening "Mbala Effect," a spare invocation suggesting ritual or elegy in which the two elaborate an empathetic common space without any direct mirroring. In contrast, Lytton's use of electronics on "The Gentle Sturgeon" creates sounds akin to some of Wooley's acoustic techniques, suggesting this dialogue has developed to the degree that notions of source and origin have blurred. There's genuinely liberated playing on "Filtering the Fogweed," Wooley leaping registers and making sudden twists in intervals and sonorities while Lytton creates a sparkling metallic chatter. There's great breadth here as well, a kind of spatial expansion that can extend to suggest a narrative inevitability among the unfolding parts, a process furthered by titles like "The Lonely Fisherman."
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Trumpet A; Trumpet B; Amplifier.
Personnel: Nate Wooley: trumpet, amplifier.
Creak above 33
Tracks: The Mbala Effect; The Gentle Surgeon; Filtering the Fogweed; The Lonely Fisherman.
Personnel: Nate Wooley: trumpet; Paul Lytton: percussion, electronics.