Featuring: Nate Wooley
Colin Green - Free Jazz Blog
This is a quartet bristling with ideas, comprising Nate Wooley (trumpet), Liudas Mockūnas (contrabass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones), Barry Guy (double bass), and Arkadijus Gotesmanas (drums and percussion). Both Wooley and Guy were artists in residence for the 2019 Improdimensions and as far as I can tell this is their first recording together. There are three improvisations: “DIES” (day), “NOX” (night), and “LUX” (light). In the same way that with Irvin’s art the action of his wrist is ever present, so here there’s a sense of physical engagement being the progenitor of sound and shape through the nuances of pressure, speed, and articulation; and like Irvin, imbued with a certain opulence – welters of plucked notes, brass sunbursts, the fluid consistency of wriggling reeds, and bright, crystallised percussion. And in both cases the process of their making is analogous to going on a journey. “MULTA DIES” presents mobile and static pockets of activity, each distinct but drawn into the ambit of the other, an intricate tracery carved out by bass and drums against sustained notes on tenor and trumpet. In time the soprano saxophone opens up a different region, agitated, erratic, cracking with febrile excitement as the ensemble revels in the sheer palpability of sound. In contrast, “MULTA NOX” works on a different scale, a nocturnal study marked by the darker tones of the contrabass clarinet and an evanescent construction, summoned out of air. Glittering flecks of percussion, Guy’s light harmonics and muted trumpet float above subterranean murmurings. As the range expands the music gains in solidity with grisly smudges on clarinet and scraped bass strings, then thins to close as Wooley enunciates soft phrases over a sonorous repeated figure from Mockūnas. “MULTA LUX” takes a more animated approach, a fragmentary texture made up of daubs and dashes proceeding like a series of lines – crossed, broken, and reconnected – never fully resolved. My only complaint is that the album is just under 37 minutes in duration, though admittedly that’s about average for an LP. This is a quartet full of potential and I was left wanting more, much more. In these melancholic times there’s no telling if and when that might be, but in the meantime in addition to the albums reviewed above you might want to try Mockūnas and Guy’s Lava (NoBusiness, 2012), also recommended.