Nate Wooley-Argonautica_First Impressions

On his new album, Nate Wooley presents a musical crossroads.  Through the incorporation of jazz musicians from the free community and the more straight-ahead fusion side of the jazz world,  Wooley presents a space where musicality is at the fore-front with different stylistic preferences epitomizing contrast.  The album is exquisite in its intrigue as one who truly embraces its singular track-listing is left wanting more at the 42 minute mark.  Wooley’s versatility is stunning as he systematically finds companionship in the genres of all of the musicians surrounding him. 

The half way point presents a brilliant moment as Wooley is placed in a duet setting with his long time mentor Ron Miles.  Wooley has a knack for sounding like mentor Ron Miles, but he eventually ventures off into his usual hectic playing space.  This microcosm of sound development serves as metaphor for the album as a whole as the first five minutes of Wooley’s playing could be categorized as a complete juxtaposition of his final phrases.  The sounds that surround Wooley serve as the perfect complement to his mentality.  The first portion of the album is dedicated to spacey jazz playing with Wooley playing the trumpet quietly in a very historically rooted fashion.  More risks are taken making the first 20 minutes embody both slick modern jazz and more subdued free jazz weirdness.  Towards the end of the album, the electronic work and drone influences of keyboardist Jozef Dumoulin shine through with trumpet notes floating intensely in the given space.

Silence is an important tool in jazz.  Dizzy Gillespie might have phrased this phenomenon best with his famous quote: “It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.” Wooley’s piece embraces the beauty of silence unexpectedly around the 26 minute mark.  Abstract electronics and trumpet air slowly emerge from the ominous unknown bringing the listener closer before achieving a sound more ferocious than any of the previously played material.  The ending takes time to give the double drum set-up time to shine.  Devin Gray and Rudy Rostin trade ideas in a rather epic fashion to shine over the noisy overall aesthetic.

I was truly blown away by this album upon first listen.  I believe Wooley has truly proved himself as someone who can play anywhere in the jazz community and the length of time that the piece takes up becomes an afterthought as Wooley has the arsenal to entertain in a plethora of contrasting ways.  I believe each listen will give me a more in-depth understanding of how the piece works and more details will surface amongst the large-scale development scheme.



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