Nate Wooley – Mutual Aid Music
Nate Wooley; Joshua Modney; Ingrid Laubrock; Mariel Roberts; Matt Moran; Russell Greenberg; Sylvie Courvoisier; Cory Smythe
Pleasure of the Text Records POTTR1309 (pleasureofthetext.com)
Trumpeter, composer, conceptualist, Nate Wooley is a major figure in current free jazz and improvised music, consistently focused on issues of meaning. This latest work is an outgrowth of Battle Pieces, a quartet project begun in 2014 in which one member acts as improvising soloist while the other members choose from Wooley’s supplied materials to develop the work. Mutual Aid Music extends this method for surmounting the usual alternatives of composition/improvisation, doubling the quartet with four more musicians chosen from the New York contemporary music community.
The eight musicians play eight “concertos”: in each, one musician has a primary score; one improvises throughout, based on the other seven’s input; others freely adapt secondary materials that have been individually assigned. Surmounting Wooley’s complex methodology is a singular purpose: “It asks the musicians… to ask themselves, in each moment, how that gift will affect the community (ensemble) of which they are currently a member.” Wooley the conceptualist has effectively made each musician responsible for a work’s outcome in how they choose to make each transaction collectively meaningful.
Clearly the work depends on its community of stellar musicians – saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, pianists Sylvie Courvoisier and Cory Smythe, percussionists Matt Moran and Russell Greenberg, violinist Joshua Modney and cellist Mariel Roberts – but the results are always remarkable, sometimes astonishing, everyone engaged in making the richest, most expressive, organized and communicative music possible. Beyond category in its structure and immediacy, this feels as much like a success for listeners as the composer and ensemble.