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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Nate Wooley & Seymour Wright – About Trumpet and Saxophone (Fataka, 2013) ****½

By Tom Burris

Considering the previous output by Nate Wooley and Seymour Wright – never mind that title - you'd be right to expect a thorough exploration of every wheeze, honk, snort and clack these instruments are capable of making.  But it's the idea of collaboration between these two fearless explorers that bumps the anticipation factor up a level or four.  Wooley and Wright perform a series of duets that are completely about the trumpet and saxophone – and then some.

About Trumpet and Saxophone is about the relationship of these instruments to each other.  It's about wind going in and coming out the other end – and into the ear of the man with the other instrument, and how he interprets and reacts to it.  Without chords or even a rhythm section, the flow of the conversation shines a spotlight on the way a front-line works.  There is very much a musical structure to this interplay, which is filled with surprises – because that construction is being done on the fly.

The disc is divided into nine pieces, but these serve as mere bookmarks on a work that flows incredibly well from start to finish and should really be listened to as one complete whole.

It's a little odd – or maybe it isn't – to realize that this forward-thinking set of excursions in sound-making is completely in line with jazz tradition.  The front-line of saxophone and trumpet has been the basis of most of the great quartets since forever.  Whether these two are simulating ceremonial Tibetan horns or the trading of farts in adjacent toilet stalls, the dialog is an extension of the same conversations that happened between Bird and Diz, Ornette and Don, Miles and Trane, etc.  Some of the words have changed, of course, as language is a constantly evolving communication tool.

Therefore, About Trumpet and Saxophone is about the ability to converse in a collaborative language that hasn't been entirely written yet.  What ultimately counts to us as listeners is that the conversation is communicable as music.  And this is definitely music, as much as it is about music – especially the great jazz tradition of forward movement. 

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Anonymous said...

The label has a 3 for 2 sale on during January!