Trumpeter Nate Wooley's major 3-part work makes oblique reference to dodecaphony, ambient tape music, and the minimalist rock of Terry Riley, conceived as a tribute to Wooley's mentor Ron Miles, who performs alongside Devin Gray & Rudy Royston (drums), Cory Smythe & Jozef Dumoulin (piano).
Label: Firehouse 12 Records
Released in: USA
"Argonautica is a sonic analog to the epic poem of the same name. Built in three parts, or chapters, the music makes oblique reference to dodecaphony, ambient tape music, and the driving minimalist rock of Terry Riley. It was conceived and written as a tribute to Wooley's mentor Ron Miles, who plays the lyrical cornet role to the leader's more caustic trumpet voice. The rhythm section is equally balanced with Grammy award winning new music pianist Cory Smythe in tandem with Belgian Fender-Rhodes legend Jozef Dumoulin and the brash upstart free jazz drumming of Devin Gray interlocking with the fiery precision of Rudy Royston. The group is compositionally set in different duos and trios, working together and separately throughout the fifty-plus minutes of music to slowly build to a shattering climax that raises the question of what jazz-rock can be in the twenty-first century."-Firehouse 12
"After learning that Nate Wooley is a trumpeter-composer given to disassembling his horn and then blowing through its various parts, you might peg him as an avant-garde jazz instrumentalist with a fondness for John Cage. But charting his influences doesn’t pin down Wooley’s sound—or, rather, his collection of sounds. Wooley’s toolkit includes a raging, pitch-free thrum that has an ambient quality, even as his instrument is vibrating madly. Sometimes the music is driven by the clanking of his trumpet’s valves, which creates a percussive quality. And he also strings together “regular” notes with authority; recent albums of original tunes and mainstream jazz covers have found the musician merging conceptual experiments with more traditional forms. In the space of the same song, he can provide memorable lines of melody over a swinging beat, then charge off into innovations that expand your understanding of his instrument.
Argonautica capitalizes on both these strengths. Its format–a single track that plays out over 43 minutes—allows Wooley to indulge his many influences within a compositional structure that feels expertly designed. Here, after a brief intro, we find a freewheeling opening section, followed by a meditative middle portion that toys with drone, balladry, and stray interjections of electronic noise. An energetic group finale adds psych-rock tumult. Each major subsection lasts about 15 minutes, and the overall fast/slow/fast construction flows like a more traditional three-movement piece.
Inside each movement, Wooley’s potent group splits into duos and trios, teasing out new dynamics. The band he’s brought together is stacked with proven names from the contemporary scene: Devin Gray and Rudy Royston share drum duties; Cory Smythe handles piano while Jozef Dumoulin works the Fender Rhodes. (Smythe and Wooley have worked together previously as part of an orchestra led by Anthony Braxton.)
One measure of Wooley’s confidence in his writing is that he doesn’t insist on being the first brass player heard on the album. That would be veteran cornet player Ron Miles, a mentor of Wooley’s. (This piece is also dedicated to him.) Miles favors a more consistently lyrical sound than Wooley, but he also serves up some high-intensity exclamations during Argonautica’s opening. Wooley’s first feature on trumpet climaxes during the album’s 10th minute, in gales of howling, scraping tones that overtake the ensemble’s sound. The contrast between the keyboardists is consistently inspired, with Smythe’s acoustic piano often pounding like a third drum. During the closing section, Wooley’s trumpet and Miles’ cornet fuse in harmonies that soar over the minimalist groove of the drummers.
Wooley swiped his album title from the ancient Greek poem of the same name. And while the trumpeter doesn’t state an explicit narrative to go along with the music, it’s easy to think of the Argonauts sailing off course, buffeted by the final section’s dreamy melodic drift and harsh rhythmic thrust. Argonautica covers an epic amount of ground without seeming to labor too hard, with an impressive amount of abandon and plenty of poise."-Seth Colter Walls, Pitchfork Media
Biography for: Nate Wooley
"Nate Wooley was born in 1974 in Clatskanie, Oregon, a town of 2,000 people in the timber country of the Pacific Northwestern corner of the U.S. He began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. His time in Oregon, a place of relative quiet and slow time reference, instilled in Nate a musical aesthetic that has informed all of his music making for the past 20 years, but in no situation more than his solo trumpet performances.
Nate moved to New York in 2001, and has since become one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz, improv, noise, and new music scenes. He has performed regularly with such icons as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Ken Vandermark, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, and Yoshi Wada, as well as being a collaborator with some of the brightest lights of his generation like Chris Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh, Peter Evans, and Mary Halvorson.
Wooley's solo playing has often been cited as being a part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet. Along with Peter Evans and Greg Kelley, Wooley is considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, as well as demolishing the way trumpet is perceived in a historical context still overshadowed by Louis Armstrong. A combination of vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor has led one reviewer to call his solo recordings "exquisitely hostile".
In the past three years, Wooley has been gathering international acclaim for his idiosyncratic trumpet language. Time Out New York has called him "an iconoclastic trumpeter", and Downbeat's Jazz Musician of the Year, Dave Douglas has said, "Nate Wooley is one of the most interesting and unusual trumpet players living today, and that is without hyperbole". His work has been featured at the SWR JazzNow stage at Donaueschingen, the WRO Media Arts Biennial in Poland, Kongsberg, North Sea, Music Unlimited, and Copenhagen Jazz Festivals, and the New York New Darmstadt Festivals. In 2011 he was an artist in residence at Issue Project Room in Brooklyn, NY and Cafe Oto in London, England. In 2013 he performed at the Walker Art Center as a featured solo artist.
Nate is the curator of the Database of Recorded American Music (www.dramonline.org) and the editor-in-chief of their online quarterly journal Sound American (www.soundamerican.org) both of which are dedicated to broadening the definition of American music through their online presence and the physical distribution of music through Sound American Records. He also runs Pleasure of the Text which releases music by composers of experimental music at the beginnings of their careers in rough and ready mediums."-Nate Wooley Website (http://natewooley.com/about)
Biography for: Ron Miles
"A resident of Denver since he was 11, he began playing the trumpet seriously in junior high school and studied music at the University of Denver (1981-1985) and the Manhattan School of Music (1986). In addition to local gigs, Miles visited Italy in the summer of 1992 with the play Sophisticated Ladies and was a member of the Mercer Ellington Orchestra for a couple years. He played frequently with Bill Frisell during 1994-1995, also recording with the guitarist, and worked as assistant professor of music at Denver's Metropolitan Stage College. Ron Miles has recorded for Prolific (1986) and Capri (1990), as well as several advanced sets for Gramavision."-Scott Yanow-All Music/MySpace (https://myspace.com/ronmilesmusic/bio)
Biography for: CORY SMYTHE
"Pianist Cory Smythe works actively in new, classical, and improvised music. He has performed widely, making appearances as soloist and chamber musician at the Darmstadt International Festival for New Music, the Bang on a Can Marathon in New York City, the Green Mill jazz club in Chicago, and the Mostly Mozart festival at Lincoln Center. In recent seasons, Smythe has played alongside violinist Hilary Hahn in concerts throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. A Washington Post review of the duo's performance at the Kennedy Center praised Smythe for "...the ferocity and finesse of his technique." Their Grammy-winning album, In 27 Pieces: the Hilary Hahn Encores, documents Hahn's diverse collection of newly commissioned encores for violin and piano.
As a core member of the new music group the International Contemporary Ensemble, Smythe has given numerous premieres, collaborated in the development of new pieces, and worked closely with composers John Zorn, Philippe Hurel, Dai Fujikura, George Lewis, and Alvin Lucier among many others. ICE's 2013 release on Mode Records features Smythe as the piano soloist in Iannis Xenakis's 'Palimpsest'. Smythe has also been a featured guest and soloist with many new music ensembles throughout the United States, including Milwaukee's Present Music, the Boston-based Firebird Ensemble, Chicago Symphony Orchestra's MusicNOW, and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. He performs regularly in collaboration with many of the leading concert artists of his generation, appearing this last season with the cellist Joshua Roman, violinist Karen Gomyo, the Imani Winds, and members of the Providence and Rubens string quartets.
An innovative improviser, Smythe performs as a soloist and in collaboration with a wide array of jazz and creative artists, among them, most recently, Peter Evans, Vijay Iyer, Steve Lehman, and Anthony Braxton. This season will see the release of recordings featuring Smythe in projects led by Tyshawn Sorey and Nate Wooley. Smythe's own album, Pluripotent - described by celebrated jazz pianist Jason Moran as "hands down one of the best solo recordings I've ever heard" - is available for free download at corysmythe.bandcamp.com.
Smythe holds degrees in classical piano performance from the music schools at Indiana University and the University of Southern California, where he studied with Luba Edlina-Dubinsky and Dr. Stewart Gordon, respectively. He currently resides in New York City."-CORY SMYTHE Website (http://corysmythe.com/bio)
Biography for: Jozef Dumoulin
"Pianist Jozef Dumoulin (Belgium) redefined the Fender Rhodes keyboard through a scope that is at the same time fully contemporary, eclectic and highly personal. He is the first to present a full solo program featuring the instrument. Furthermore he is known for his open and luminous approach to the piano and to music in general, always anchored in tradition without being burdened by it. Besides the Fender Rhodes solo, his own projects include The Red Hill Orchestra (a trio with Ellery Eskelin and Dan Weiss) and a duo with Benoît Delbecq.
Highly-demanded as a sideman, Jozef Dumoulin has recorded and toured with the finest of musicians in the domain of jazz, improvised music, rock and traditional music. He currently lives in Paris."-Jozef Dumoulin Website (http://www.jozefdumoulin.com/#/biography/?&t=inhoud)
Biography for: Devin Gray
"An artist interested in multiple musical directions and one who strives for quality and sincerity in his work. His exciting energy has compelled him towards many different musical directions and projects. Considered by his contemporaries as cutting edge, Gray shows promise as an artist that will not only move the music forward, but one who will share his unique musical vision with the world of music.
Devin Gray's fresh approach to modern drumming has enabled him to play with many of America's great jazz musicians. He has performed and recorded with innovative musicians of contrasting styles and backgrounds such as: David Liebman, Tony Malaby, Gary Thomas, Ingrid Jensen, Dave Burrell, Dave Ballou, Michael Formanek, Nate Wooley, Stephan Crump, George Garzone, Chris Speed, Drew Gress, Sam Rivers, Ralph Alessi, John O'Gallagher, Ellery Eskelin, Kris Davis, Ted Rosenthal, Matt Mitchell, Uri Caine, Andrew D'Angelo, Vardan Ovsepian, Bill McHenry as well as many others.
Devin has been fortunate to perform in many places around the globe and continues to make peace with his audiences. He is a top call young drummer in many modern jazz circles in New York City as well as multiple cities on the East Coast of America. Current leader projects include two quartets: "Dirigo Rataplan" featuring Ellery Eskelin, Dave Ballou, and Michael Formanek, and "RelativE ResonancE" featuring Chris Speed, Kris Davis, and Chris Tordini. He is currently living, playing, and composing in Brooklyn, New York."-http://devingraymusic.com/about (Devin Gray Website)
Biography for: Rudy Royston
A native of Ft. Worth, Texas, Rudy Royston was raised in Denver, Colorado. He began playing drums and percussion as a toddler, playing in church and along with an eclectic array of LPs his siblings would have on rotation. The youngest of five, Royston attributes his musical interests and palate to his siblings and parents. Rudy's older brothers and sister were avid listeners of all genres of music, his mother a constant support, and his father the supervisor of shipping at an established children's percussion instrument making company. Rudy's brothers would expose him to a myriad of music, and his father would bring home slightly damaged percussion instruments. As a result, Rudy grew up surrounded by bongos, rhythm sticks and xylophones, recorders, metallophones, glockenspiels, drums and many other percussion instruments. In the fourth grade, with his mother's ceaseless support, Rudy began studying music more formally, beginning his studies in reading and writing music. He continued his music studies through middle and into high school-receiving some training on viola and tenor saxophone as well.
While a sophomore in high school, Rudy attended the Telluride Jazz Camp in Telluride, Colorado on scholarship, where he studied jazz drum set for the first time with Duffy Jackson and Ed Soph. It was then Rudy knew he would pursue music the rest of his life. He began studying classical and jazz repertoire, as well as marching percussion, rising to achieve membership into topnotch city and state-wide high school ensembles.
Rudy went on to study marching percussion, classical percussion and Jazz Performance at University of Northern Colorado, Metropolitan State College of Denver, and University of Denver. Rudy graduated with honors from University of Denver, where he received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music and Poetry. He later received K-12 teaching credentials from Metropolitan State College of Denver.
While in college, Rudy began playing with well-regarded trumpeter Ron Miles, whom Rudy deems his greatest teacher and music mentor. Now a major figure in the Denver music scene, Rudy performed with some of Colorado's finest artists such as Fred Fuller, Dale Bruning, Laura Newman, Fred Hess, Dotsero, Leslie Drayton, Joe Keel, Nelson Rangell and Bill Frisell-with whom he still plays.
Upon graduating college, Rudy went on to play and record in the gospel, alternative rock and jazz scenes in Denver and around the United States. He taught music 10 years in public schools before relocating to the east coast in 2006 to pursue graduate studies in music at Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts, studying jazz percussion with the great Victor Lewis. Rudy quickly integrated into the New York music scene, performing with world-renowned artists such as Javon Jackson, Bill Frisell, Les McCann, David Gilmore, Ben Allison, Jason Moran, JD Allen, Sean Jones, Jeremy Pelt, Greg Osby, Jennifer Holiday, Tia Fuller, Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Bowen, Bruce Barth, George Colligan, Don Byron, Stanley Cowell, Tom Harrell, John Ellis, Jenny Scheinman, John Patitucci, Dave Douglas, Branford Marsalis, Rudresh Mahanthappa and The Mingus Big Band, to name a few. A lover of all genres of music, Rudy continues to expand his horizons as he gains increasing recognition in the world of Jazz.-Rudy Royston Website (http://www.rudyroyston.com/html/about.php)
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Shipping Weight: 2.00 units
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Label: Firehouse 12 Records
Catalog ID: FH12-04-01-023
Squidco Product Code: 22368
Recorded at Firehouse 12, December 9th, 2014, by Chris Reba.
Nate Wooley-trumpet, composer
Jozef Dumoulin-electric piano, electronics
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1. Argonautica 42:53