Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes

Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes
Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes

Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes by Nate Wooley (Bandcamp Link).

This album is dedicated to those who recognize living as a heroic act: the occupiers of sunup barstools; the cubicle-planted; the ghosts of Greyhounds; the reasonably sketchy. A burlap hero is one who marches—consciously or not—back to the sea in hopes of making no splash, who understands and embraces the imperfection of being, and in that way, stretches the definition of sainthood to fit.

Nate Wooley, 2022

Framed by 4 interludes, (all named with an open parenthesis a sequence of periods and a close parentheis), which start with what sound like field recordings of fields or beaches into which the band gradually inserts itself, Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes roots itself in the natural world.

These interludes present a world where composition and improvisation are part of the order of things, not one where man and his ideas impose their will on nature or the world.

The 3 longer pieces on the album skirt any labels such as “Jazz”, “Free Improvisation”, or “New Music”. (Though, at any point, the music might sound like one, the other, or all at once.)

The core group of players, Halvorson, Alcorn, Sawyer, and Wooley, are all distinctive voices and Wooley gives ample space to express themselves solo and interact with each other over the course of the longer pieces.

Particularly fascinating is the interaction between the two guitarists, the pitch sliding of Alcorn’s pedal steel guital and the temporal sliding of Halvorson’s patented digital delay damaged playing.

Wooley himself has some burning passages and some poignant moments in his playing on the album, including a particularly nice break in “A Catastrophic Legend” that is practically Bebop (but not quite).

Sawyer displays astonishing flexibility, interacting and complementing whatever these iconoclastic players throw at him with poise and grace.

The album closes at the sea shore, perhaps in reference to the quote above, a group of saintly players ending their pilgrimage, and fading into silence.

Mary Halvorson; Guitar
Susan Alcorn; Pedal Steel Guitar
Ryan Sawyer; Drums
Mat Maneri; Viola, Track 2
Trevor Dunn; Electric Bass, Track 4
Nate Wooley; Trumpet and Amplifier, Compositions

Recorded by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Audio, October 14-15, 2021
released July 29, 2022

Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes
Ancient Songs of Burlap Heroes

All Directions Home

All Directions Home by Ken Vandermark and Nate Wooley.
Bandcamp Link: All Directions Home
Another Duo from Vandermark and Wooley. While Vandermark concentrated on Clarinet on East by Northwest, on All Directions Home he concentrates on Baritone and Tenor Sax. Only on the amazingly titled, “I Prefer the Company of Birds”, does he whip out the licorice stick.

Recorded live at The Sugar Maple in Milwaukee, both players are amazingly “on”. Sensitivity, grace, tension, and comfortability with your performance partner are the sensibilities which inform.

If anything, it reminds me a bit of Jimmy Guiffre’s small groups in its relaxed eclecticism.

And, by the way, I too, often, prefer the company of birds.

#KenVandermark #NateWooley #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #AllDirectionsHome

East by Northwest

East by Northwest by Nate Wooley & Ken Vandermark.
Bandcamp Link: East by Northwest

An album of duets from trumpet player Nate Wooley & reed player Ken Vandermark, who will be playing together at @sfjazz tomorrow, Saturday, June 9, 2018.

A mix of composition and improvisation, which they dedicate to influences as diverse as Ranier Werner Fassbinder, Edward Burtynsky, and Christian Marclay. (I had to look Edward Burtynsky up, too, but he’s a photographer who is interested in documenting man’s impact on the planet.) But the primary influence on these duets was the long time partnership between woodwind player John Carter and trumpeter Bobby Bradford.

John Carter holds a special place in my heart, as well, as his work in the 1980s, from Dauwhe through Shadows on the Wall, were what inspired me to take up the clarinet.

In any case, the delicate interplay between the trumpet and clarinet, with their similar registers and expressive tonal qualities, are at the heart of this album. That and the interplay between passages free improvisation and written segments.

If you enjoy clarinet or trumpet, you should listen to this album, and you should be at SF Jazz on Saturday night.

#KenVandermark #NateWooley #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack #EastByNorthwest #SFJazz


Featuring by WLSFW.
Label Site: Featuring

Phil Wachsman, Paul Lytton, Sten Sandell, Floros Floridis, and Nate Wooley recorded live in May of 2016. Violin, drums, piano, clarinets, and trumpet, respectively.

The reason I picked this album is that Nate Wooley is going to be at SF Jazz this week Saturday, June 9th, in duo with Ken Vandermark.

I really like Mr Wooley’s playing, his command of the variety and textures of sound he can coax out of his trumpet is truly astounding.

In the context of this group, he is given a particularly good foil in Mr Floridis on Bass and Soprano Clarinet. Oft times, I was puzzling over which sound was coming from Mr Wooley’s trumpet or Mr Floridis’ clarinets. Well, everyone in this group is pretty amazing, actually, and they seem to have been quite “on” this night in Austria.

A stellar example of free improvisation at its best.

#Featuring #WLSFW #PhilWachsman #PaulLytton #StenSandell #FlorosFloridis #NateWooley #TodaysCommuteSoundtrack

2017-10-13 From Wolves to Whales

From Wolves to Whales

From Wolves to Whales by Wooley/Rempis/Niggenkemper/Corsano.

Bandcamp Link: From Wolves to Whales

Given the large Brotzmann-esque expressions of Rempis’ Ballister, it is interesting to listen to this album of quiet, small gestures. Or, well, quieter, smaller gestures.

Even percussion dervish Corsano keeps it on the restrained side of free.

Quite pleasant and enjoyable. The most interesting part is probably trying to identify which instrument is making which squeal, thump, or whirr. Plus, good song titles like, “Stand Up for Bastard” (Woo! Bonus points for King Lear Allusion!) and “Swinging’ Apoplexy”. 

#NateWooley #DaveRempis #PascalNiggenkemper #ChrisCorsano #TodaysCommuteSoundTrack #FromWolvesToWhales