By Tim Niland
Trumpeter and composer Nate Wooley is a student of jazz and improvised music in all its forms. Taking the ideas and cadences of a famous poet and developing them into a wide open free jazz palate is an interesting and thought provoking idea. On this album, he is accompanied by Chris Pitsiokos on alto saxophone, Brandon Lopez on bass and Dre Hocevar on drums. The album is a varied one where lengthy portions of open space or quiet instrumental playing is offset by bash steamrollers of brass and saxophone, thick bass and rolling drums. Snatches of melodies, motifs and themes bubble up and then mark a point where the band or smaller sections of it can begin another thoughtful improvised section, taking the smallest nugget of an idea and transforming it into a spontaneous composition in its own right. The idea of trumpet or cornet with saxophone backed by bass and drums with no other instrument like a piano or guitar has supplied the context for some great moments in jazz. Groups like Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, whose trumpet player Don Cherry would jump ship and join another saxophone hero, Sonny Rollins in a short lived quartet that made some of the most exploratory music of both men’s careers. In the early 2000’s trumpeter Dave Douglas and saxophonist Chris Potter made two stellar albums in the format, demonstrating that this sense of openness and possibility is the lingua franca of modern jazz, allowing the soloists, rhythm team and band as a whole great opportunities for self and group expression. The early parts of “Knknighgh-6” show this particular group at their most unfettered, with a walloping collective improvisation and some particularly vivid free saxophone playing. The band allows members to break out into solo sections as needed, and Wooley builds a statement of his own leading into a portion of relative quiet. Emerging from this open space is a well woven bass solo, knitting the band a foundation that they can further create from. This shifting dynamic range is originally presented in “Knknighgh-3,” the opening track. Running over sixteen minutes in length, we get a powerful demonstration of the abilities of each member of the band and their ability to create together as a unified whole. “Knknighgh-7” uses some raw drones to develop a setting of emotional unease, one that the musicians carefully probe and explore. They are able to grow from these musical seeds a followthrough of faster cells punctuated by short bursts of pinched and puckered brass. The concluding track “Knknighgh-8” waxes and wanes through sections of dynamism, comparing and contrasting structures that bring the album to a compelling and logical conclusion.