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
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
sample the album:
"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
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