Monday, 30 May 2011

Nate Wooley - Trumpet/Amplifier

As usual it's fun writing up reviews for Free Jazz Blog especially because you get to hear so much music that you'd not normally buy. Now when I say 'not normally buy' I don't mean I wouldn't spend the money on it. Of course one of the biggest problems in discovering new sounds is 1) have the money to spend and 2) discovering new LPs/CDs to buy. Of course it's easy just to buy everything, but if you have to organise your finances (which are probably not endless) it's probably better to buy chosen products. In fact a third element comes into playing/listening - time! Yes, it's no good buying things that you'll never have time to listen to. Oddly enough this is where I can't get my head round the idea of the digital revolution and the whole downloading industry, especially when many people don't pay for it. If I look on my iTunes I'm surprised to see only 13.5 days of music. However I'm not a good indication - I mostly buy CDs and LPs - but when I see some peoples systems they have a years worth of music? When do they have time to listen to it, after all that's 24 hours a day and one has to assume that if you listen to it only half the day it's already ........ etc? 

Anyhow I'm really here to talk about the music that I discover via reviewing music and today it's a brief update on Nate Wooley's latest offering. I'd put a link to Nate's website but he doesn't update it - he admitted to me that he should get himself organised on that level.  Below is the review posted on Free Jazz Blog and below I'll add a few bits to the whole thing, there's also a mini review of the concert where I saw Nate perform the piece here.

 Nate Wooley's LP cover for Trumpet/Amplifier

Nate Wooley - Trumpet/Amplifier (Smeraldina-Rima 2011) *****

This is one of the strangest records I've listened to in a while, yet it's also an easy record to give 5 stars to simply because what you hear defies any expectations of what a solo trumpet record, even with an amplifier, would or should sound like. It's this second element, the amplifier, which defines the outcome of Nate Wooley's sound explorations. I use the expression 'sound exploration' as what you hear on this record is anything but music in conventional terms, more an exploration of trumpets sonic possibilities. Wooley investigates the various sounds produced (and not normally heard), brought to the fore via the amplifier, a kind of microscopic sound-view of a brass instrument. Others before have also found new directions on which to experiment such as Evan Parker, Joelle Leandre, Derek Bailey, or more recently trumpeter Alex Boney, and it seems that Nate Wooley is following in the same direction, looking to find new ways of using his instrument.       

As for the LP itself. Side One has two tracks : 1) Trumpet A, 2) Trumpet B. Side Two, one track titled quite simply 'Amplifier'. I can imagine looking at this you wonder if it's possible to keep ones attention throughout, and if so are the tracks that different. The answer in both cases is 'yes, no problem'. The opening track takes you a short while to enter into and understand what you're actually listening to, but once you've 'caught on' the rest is just 'sit back and listen'. Even if the sounds are abstract to begin with, little by little you hear Nate Wooley's thinking process unfold as he uses both sound and rhythm in these improvisations which at times sound like early computer generated sound. In fact whilst watching a performance of this music I noticed he not only blows into the trumpet, but sometimes spits, blows at, talks, hits, and sings into his instrument, a more physical approach than the standard playing technique. The three tracks passed by as if in the blink of an eye and I ended up placing the needle back at the beginning as if to confirm what I'd heard, after all did I just hear a trumpet record where no actually brass (musical) note was sounded?     

I can recommend this album to all who are interested by new sounds, techniques and their possibilities. Of course if you're into the sound experiments of the likes of Schaeffer, Stockhausen, or even certain moments of Supersilent etc, you'll be quite comfortable with this music, like old friends. I'd love to hear how Wooley and Paul Lytton combine these sonic possibilities in there duo CD reviewed elsewhere. One should note that this is a limited edition of 495 LPs, so if you're interested you better get your copy whilst it's available.

As Stef would say ..... highly recommended!

To add a little to this post I would really like to encourage people to go and see this 'type' of music. As I mention in the article concerning the loft scene etc, it's sad that only a few people get to witness such music and also an indication of a cities artistic awareness. Henry Threadgill mentions in a recent interview with Ethan Iverson (Do the Math). 
Threadgill says this : 

I was thinking yesterday about these peoples' blogs, you know, and reviews and stuff talking about records, records, records.  When's the last time you saw something about a live performance?  I'm not just talking about jazz, I'm talking about all music.  The most powerful experience you ever have in your life is a live experience.

And he's partly right - I'll write a new post about this statement in the weeks to come as it's a little short sighted. Of course nowadays some people actually create records, never to be seen performed just heard, however some of the most thrilling moments are to be found in live performance. 

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