New Jersey resident Nate Wooley contributes a major trumpeting voice to this pair of quartet discs. His sound is not one to ignore. Besides possessing a notable deftness of phrasing, he's also equipped with a tonal range that either rips into the ears, making its immediate mark, or seduces softly when negotiating its quieter spells. Wooley is comfortable with excess and restraint alike, even though the resultant sounds can often be far from comfortable.
Evil Eye is co-led by tenor saxophonist Jonathan Moritz and drummer Mike Pride, although the latter comes across as the dominant force in a live setting, perhaps because his approach is so extroverted, in the powerhouse complexity fashion. The remaining member is bassist Ken Filiano and he's the only player who doesn't contribute a composition. Placed right at the start of Doin' It All For My Baby, the second album from the band, to scare away complacent listeners, "Amhorikkka makes a strident attack, Pride pounding out an insistent punk beat, over which the horns do their Ornette/Cherry squabble, swiftly skipping into a fanfare theme. Wooley is at his most extreme, sandblasting down his power-surging tubes. At this point, the band is covered in rough textures, but soon engages in a gentler expression. Wooley's lone contribution, "3am Swedetown Bluff , offers space for an extended bass solo, then allows full exposure for the trumpeter's own scaly patina. Pride plays vibraphone on the title cut, revealing a completely contrasting sensitive side, but he's back on the drum offensive during "Moore For Mom , where he batters out a funk rattle that prompts his bandmates into their most ferocious outbreak thus far. Slipping back into meditational mode and to the vibraphone, for "When We've All Rehearsed Our Separate Parts The Real Thing Will Happen , Pride and the Eye also display an appealing line in song-titling.
It might not be too surprising that the standout feature of Brooklynite tenor saxophonist Stephen Gauci's Basso Continuo is the presence of two bassists in a drummerless lineup. Even Wooley's trumpeting can't match the compelling interaction that exists between Mike Bisio and the Norwegian Ingebrigt Håker Flaten. Though listed as four separate tracks, these live pieces of Nididhyasana (recorded in January 2007 at Downtown Music Gallery) have the quality of a suite, a lengthy cracking of a single faultline. The basses are kept wide apart, one in each speaker's spatial extreme, which draws even more attention to their pointillist twanging, or even their twinned droning. As if in keeping with these deep emanations, Wooley concentrates on a muted needling, as if trying to rise above the low thrum. When all four players are coinciding in motion, a termite's nest bustle erupts; but some of the most striking sections are when the two bassmen are left alone to conduct their own conversation. Gauci almost finds himself standing on the perimeter, his warm foxglove tone acting as a soothing agent. Without a drummer, of course, there's little forward motion, the improvisations tending to float in oily suspension. There are parts where all band members are firing off at once and the climactic stretch of "Chitta Vilasa is one such instance.
Tracks and Personnel
Doin' It All For My Baby
Tracks: Amhorikkka; They Certainly Are Not Great Writers; 3am Swedetown Bluff; Doin' It All For My Baby; Moore For Mom; Mend Many More Ills; When We've All Rehearsed Our Separate Parts The Real Thing Will Happen.
Personnel: Jonathan Moritz: tenor sax; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Ken Filiano: bass; Mike Pride: drums and vibraphone.
Tracks: Nididhyasana (uninterrupted contemplation); Dhriti (steadfastness); Chitta vilasa (play of mind); Turyaga (beyond words).
Personnel: Ingebrigt Haker Flaten, Mike Bisio: bass; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Stephen Gauci: tenor saxophone.