Please excuse the sudden onset of déjà vu as the sophomore release by the quartet From Wolves To Whales spins out two discs of music from a 2017 live recording from The Netherlands, made during a European tour. It's just that the music evokes the images of Ornette Coleman's early-60's quartet. Images, and not necessarily the sound of Coleman, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Ed Blackwell. It isn't déjà vu and this isn't last century, but encountering trumpeter Nate Wooley, saxophonist Dave Rempis, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, and drummer Chris Corsano summons the spirit of all things Ornette. Experimentation, imagination, group interaction, and that certain dynamism are the hallmarks of this creative group.
The discs are made up of two long (nearly 30-minute) tracks and two shorter segments, both group improvisations. Each musician is a band leader himself, and all are much in demand sidemen. With all the projects in which they contribute, one can only marvel at the intimate attention on display here. "Hook And Cod" doesn't so much kickoff as stumble in with stuttering bass and disjointed tick and rumble drums. Rempis and Wooley poke and probe the edges, blowing notes and rumors of notes. Don't expect this piece and or any of the others to follow a linear path. Energy swells and subsides. Silence is interrupted by overblown horns and bowed bass. The quartet passes around the handbrake and accelerator duties throughout. The references to Ornette Coleman spark throughout, especially on disc two with Wooley and Rempis sharing a two horn blues ennui "Spaarne" that gives way to Niggenkemper's bowed bass solo and finally Wooley's overblown and smeared trumpet discourse. The final track, "For Kenau," sums up the quartet's mission. It trawls a path of extended emotion through long solemn notes and solos, ending with all its fuel spent.
CD1: Hook and Cod; IJ; CD2: Spaarne; For Kenau.
Nate Wooley: trumpet; Dave Rempis: alto saxophone; Pascal Niggenkemper: bass; Chris Corsano: drums.
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