Stephen Gauci Basso Continuo – Nididhyasana (CF 101)
New Jersey resident Nate Wooley contributes a major trumpeting voice to this quartet disc. 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.
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.