Joe Morris / Nate Wooley – Tooth and Nail (CF 190)
Because trumpeter Nate Wooley has worked in methods that straddle a number of areas – including noise music, as well as free improvisation and jazz – one might expect this duo with Joe Morris (heard here on guitar) to lean heavily on the pillars of extremity. Morris, too, often embraces net-less abstraction as well as wry straightahead contexts. However, Tooth and Nail sticks very true to its character, however uniquethat is, of an acoustic guitar and trumpet duo.
The eight improvisations here are about as naked as one could hope for and yet still proffer a futuristvision of breathy dives, spittle-demarked kisses and taut cycles of metal and wood. In addition to voicings and intervals, Morris uses horizontal scrapes along the strings in condensed clusters. Alternately muted and bright flecks at either end of the instrument or detuned thwack all enter the picture. But the sounds’ origin remains clear and immediate, specifically connected to and drawn from guitar and trumpet. “Metronorth” finds Wooley, in a few short bars, moving from inverted pucker to stately cadenza, to leaps and flutters as Morris’ progressions seem to turn inward, condensing as much as they spur.
One can hear the history of the modern trumpet in Wooley’s playing – Miles, Freddie Hubbard, Wadada Leo Smith and the pure-sound circular breathing of Axel Dörner – but that’s not to say his playing is a pastiche, rather a beautifully interconnected statement in brass. The pair trade foreground and background, clambering folksy concentration supported by descending muted guffaws on “Steelhead” or violinlike free scrabble opposite thick, muscular clouds and churning multiphonics on “Forrest Grove”. Tooth and Nail sets up its own tradition while also looking to the past and contemporaries.