Nate Wooley | Christian Weber | Paul Lytton | Six Feet Under | No Business Records

Nate Wooley – trumpet |Christian Weber – bass | Paul Lytton – percussion

Recorded November 30, 2009 at Radio Studio Zürich, Switzerland by Martin Pearson. All compositions by Nate Wooley, Christian Weber and Paul Lytton. Mixed by Will-y Klangdach and Christian Weber. Mastered by Arūnas Zujus at MAMAstudios. Design by Oskaras Anosovas. Produced by Danas Mikailionis. Co-producer – Valerij Anosov

Tracklist Side A 1. Pushing up Daisies  2. Moribund 3. Nickel Eyes | Tracklist Side B 1. La Grande Mort 2. Check Out Time (The End)

Nate Wooley | Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Nate Wooley

was born in 1974 in Clatskanie, Oregon, a town of 2,000 people in the timber country of the Pacific Northwestern corner of the U.S. He began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. His time in Oregon, a place of relative quiet and slow time reference, instilled in Nate a musical aesthetic that has informed all of his music making for the past 20 years, but in no situation more than his solo trumpet performances.

Nate moved to New York in 2001, and has since become one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz, improv, noise, and new music scenes. He has performed regularly with such icons as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Fred Frith, Evan Parker, and Yoshi Wada, as well as being a collaborator with some of the brightest lights of his generation like Chris Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh, Peter Evans, and Mary Halvorson.

Wooley’s solo playing has often been cited as being a part of an international revolution in improvised trumpet. Along with Peter Evans and Greg Kelley, Wooley is considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, as well as demolishing the way trumpet is perceived in a historical context still overshadowed by Louis Armstrong. A combination of vocalization, extreme extended technique, noise and drone aesthetics, amplification and feedback, and compositional rigor has led one reviewer to call his solo recordings “exquisitely hostile”.

In the past three years, Wooley has been gathering international acclaim for his idiosyncratic trumpet language. Time Out New York has called him “an iconoclastic trumpeter”, and Downbeat’s Jazz Musician of the Year, Dave Douglas has said, “Nate Wooley is one of the most interesting and unusual trumpet players living today, and that is without hyperbole”. His work has been featured at the SWR JazzNow stage at Donaueschingen, the WRO Media Arts Biennial in Poland, Kongsberg and Copenhagen Jazz Festivals, and the New York New Darmstadt Festivals. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room and just completed a residency at London’s Café Oto.

Christian Weber | Photo by Resi Hauser

Christian Weber

doublebass, composition, electronics, born in Zürich/Switzerland. 1990 discovery of the doublebass. 1993-96 studies at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts Graz. 1995-98 studies at the Bruckner Conservatory Linz with Adelhard Roidinger. 1998 studies with Ernst Weissensteiner, Vienna. 2000-06 operative and artistic management of the WIM Zürich. 2000- music for film & theater, soundinstallations. 2001 grant from the city of Zürich; composition commissioned by ProHelvetia. 2003 Zürich culture award (Werkjahr). 2004- extensive touring all over the world. 2007-10 guest lecturer at the University of Berne.

Paul Lytton | Photo by Joaquim Mendes/Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation©2010

Paul Lytton

born 8 March 1947, London is an English free jazz percussionist. Lytton began on drums at age 16. He played jazz in London in the late 1960s while taking lessons on the tabla from P.R. Desai. In 1969 he began experimenting with free improvisational music, working in a duo with saxophonist Evan Parker. After adding bassist Barry Guy, the ensemble became the Evan Parker Trio. He and Parker continued to work together into the 2000s; more recent releases include trio releases with Marilyn Crispell in 1996 (Natives and Aliens) and 1999 (After Appleby).

A founding member of the London Musicians Collective, Lytton worked extensively on the London free improvisation scene in the 1970s, and aided Paul Lovens in the foundation of the Aachen Musicians’ Cooperative in 1976.

Lytton has toured North America and Japan both solo and with improvisational ensembles. In 1999, he toured with Ken Vandermark and Kent Kessler, and recorded with Vandermark on English Suites. As well Lytton collaborated with Jeffrey Morgan (alto & tenor saxophone) with whom he recorded the CD “Terra Incognita” Live in Cologne, Germany.


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6 thoughts on “Nate Wooley | Christian Weber | Paul Lytton | Six Feet Under | No Business Records

  1. Despite the unambiguously mortal title, expect no keening here. This is sepulchral art with a difference, teeming with activity from the dark side.

    “Pushing up Daisies” is typical, starting innocently enough with trumpet squiggles and wooden bass bursts, but rapidly moving through a series of capricious scene changes. A march beat from the snare hurries past, followed by a stentorian arco bass drone, interrupted by trumpet blasting a mix of white noise, glass shatters and screeching fowl, rasping buzzsaws with a menacing pulse beat morphing into monstrous gallows, where countless heads are sequentially severed to the slow-motion rhythm of falling dominoes.

    If this is a burial soundscape, then the graveyard must be located inside an aphotic forest, razed by murderous lumberjacks bombarded by swarms of propeller-driven warplanes. Or maybe this is intended to elucidate the cause of death. In any case, for those not already gone, the mind-numbing intensity induces anoesis, obliterating the mundane loops and daily grinds of relentless meaninglessness. In other words, this is great noise music.

    This all-acoustic improvising trio features trumpeter Nate Wooley, Christian Weber on bass and the percussion of Paul Lytton. Wooley has written about being influenced by analog electronic music, jazz and doom, combining these and other ideas through juxtaposition and density more than pulse or conventional melodic material. This makes him a good fit for Weber, who has worked in avant jazz with the likes of Oliver Lake and Paul Dunmall, but also in noise units with Jason Kahn and Günter Müller. His background in modern classical makes him adept with the bow, used to great effect here in long bristly rumbles that entwine with Wooley’s burling snarls. Lytton plays like a blind kid fooling around a metal junk shop. While often keeping a steady tempo of weird beats, he can warp from a simple repeating low tom boom to the pointillism of steel pins clattering around a metallic chamber.

    There are more than just nightmares here, with some dreamier, quiet moments. The wistful “Moribund” could provide the background music for reviewing one’s life, while “Check Out Time” starts nervously and builds to a crescendo before going out with a whispering whimper.

    If the CD is on life support, then NoBusiness is to be commended for ensuring that the LP lives on. This splattering platter is to die for.

  2. Having established a template with their eponymous 2007 Broken Research debut and Creak Above 33, (psi, 2010), avant trumpeter Nate Wooley and English drummer Paul Lytton have been looking to stretch the confines of their duo with the addition of impromptu guests. Accomplices on their 2008 American tour included guitarist Fred Frith, pianist Marilyn Crispell, bassist Torsten Muller, and electronics from Pete Swanson from Yellow Swans. For Six Feet Under, the duo enlists the assistance of Swiss bassist Christian Weber, in a move which affirms its restless quest for different timbres.

    While the usual litany of extended techniques is on display, the presence of the man from Zurich increases the gravitational pull towards jazz sonorities. Thus, even when a cut smacks of out and out improv, as on “Pushing up Daisies,” the narrative thrust of the final furlong stems from decidedly rhythmic propulsion. That’s not to say that overt tempos or melody abound, though both Wooley (with his own Quintet) and Weber (with Day and Taxi and his trio with reedman Oliver Lake) have shown that they can uncover adventure within that broader hinterland. Wooley’s ear-shredding rasps, sustained split tones and metallic buzzes keep things off balance, while Weber particularly impresses with his bow in hand, at times extracting an almost vocalized howl to supplement his customary deep resonance. Lytton remains the most abstract, working from a busy indeterminate palette to create a patented unfurling clatter.

    Concentrated listening engenders a conversational feel which permeates the proceedings, most notably through the discursive “Moribund.” Weber and Wooley share a predilection for blending their instrumental voices into elongated drones, an effect used as a repeating motif on “La Grande Mort,” which will appeal to students of pitch and texture. At its best, as on “Check Out Time (The End),” the interplay of slow bass counterpoint to skittering trumpet and percussion coheres into something greater than the sum of its parts, culminating in an exchange of tiny gestures which accumulate mass and speed like a snowball going downhill, before coming to an appropriately sudden—but satisfying—halt.

  3. Since I write all the reviews myself for my three music blogs, I sometimes find the task of listening, evaluating and writing up the articles (usually 15 per week) rather taxing and, when the wolf is at my door as it is at the moment, a huge amount of time that might be more productively spent on survival attempts. My partner gives me those looks, which mean “why are you still doing this?” and I cannot blame her. But I am of course devoting enough time to the survival front in all truth. And I do know that the discipline of this rather rigorous regime reaps quite considerable dividends in terms of my understanding of the current situation regarding “serious” musics of various genres. I have the remote hope also that someone might once again be willing to pay me for my efforts not too far down the road.

    And when an LP like the one at hand appears, I remember why I listen. We have today a thoroughly outside trio adventure. Trumpeter Nate Wooley, bassist Christian Weber and drummer Paul Lytton kick up plenty of dust on their Six Feet Under (No Business LP16), a spontaneously open set of trio improvisations that situate the three on the nether fringes of avant invention.

    Nate is in an all-sounds, many notes and the notes and tones in-between those notes and tones mode. He is afire with ideas throughout.

    Christian is in a complementary mode. He plays a great deal of bass on these sides and what he does supports, cajoles and sets the trio off in good directions.

    Paul Lytton too is in a highly creative mood, with his wonderfully busy, acoustically distinctive free sound-sculpting in sharp focus.

    This LP is printed up in an edition of only 300, which tells you something about what “No Business” means these days. It’s a very good trio outing, with Nate Wooley in great form. So grab one if you are inclined.

  4. The most intense of the three albums is without a doubt “Six Feet Under”, already reviewed earlier on this blog by Daniel Sorrells. The power of this album is not only in the stellar interaction, but the creation of in-the-moment musical innovation is possibly even stronger. What you hear is at times pretty unique, as in the mesmerising ending of the first track, or in the granular juxtaposition of phrases on the second.

    The long “La Grande Mort” is the centerpiece of the album, and is again a fascinating example of common creation. Weber’s extended tone with his arco bowing and Wooley’s circular breathing of a single note set the tone for the rest of the track : this is beyond what you’ve heard before, and not by using extended techniques, which is often the easy way out for the less talented, but by creating something new full-toned. It is the music itself that speaks, not the sounds.

    Here it results in a dark suspense, in line with the album’s theme of death. You know death is coming, you don’t know in what shape or form, you know you fear it, yet you equally know it’s inevitable … that’s the kind of thoughts and feelings that are conjured up by the piece, together with some infinite sadness combined with unpleasantness and dread, only to erupt suddenly in almost joyous tones of liberation, or maybe struggle, and ending in slow resignation.

    The last piece is the most inaccessible, closed and hermetic, with distorted sounds and minute intimate in-the-moment playing, low-volume with little sounds clattering against each other, like the death-throes of a dying animal.

    An absolutely superb album by three magicians of their instruments.

    Highly recommended!

  5. “Playing in a trio is very tricky for me, honestly.” In a 2009 interview for Bagetellen, trumpeter Nate Wooley describes struggling with the trio dynamic, often feeling as though someone must end up the “wild card,” running the risk of jutting awkwardly into the musical conversation. But he also goes on to describe trios in which he’s forged singular connections, groups that have settled into unspoken modes of operation that elevate all the musicians involved.

    Six Feet Under, released as a very limited LP by NoBusiness Records, was recorded a few months after that interview. Opener “Pushing Up Daisies” starts quite immediately with Wooley’s quiet, bubbling lines and the gentle scraping of bassist Christian Weber. It soon establishes the dynamic that prevails throughout the record: an almost symbiotic pairing of Wooley and Weber, supplemented subtly by Paul Lytton’s clattery percussion. Often, the bass and trumpet meld into textured drones that may as well be a single sound, with Wooley’s long, scratchy tones dissolving into the arco bass. Weber is a particularly attentive improviser: he listens closely to Wooley’s phrasings and changes in timbre, often matching or highlighting them with a speed and clarity that reminds me of the great sax-player John Butcher.

    The black theme running through the song titles is fitting. The atmosphere is occult and abstract, especially in the quieter moments. “Moribund” drags itself along, beginning almost out of earshot—you find yourself holding your breath, trying to pick up on Lytton’s faint rattles and thumps. Close listening suddenly feels like eavesdropping. The patches of alien noise that erupt in “La Grande Morte” sound like attempts to conjure something dark and Lovecraftian. At times, it’s not at all clear who’s doing what, only that they must have some secret understanding of the terrain they’re investigating. Even at its loudest, there’s a measured quality to the music, an intuitive sense of direction that’s shared by all.

    Final track “Check Out Time (The End)” closes with Wooley and Lytton sputtering out static, like a radio transmission that’s being lost. It funnels down into a sole, reedy note held on the trumpet, then expires with a click. It’s a perfect ending, and once again affirms that—despite his reservations—Wooley’s not only survived a trio encounter, he’s absolutely nailed it.

  6. En 2009, quelques mois après avoir enregistré ensemble l’indispensable Creak Above 33, Nate Wooley et Paul Lytton se retrouvaient à l’ombre de la contrebasse de Christian Weber. Il est des chroniques – celle de Six Feet Under est de celles-là – qui pourraient se contenter de donner les noms des musiciens en présence pour dire combien le disque qui leur est attaché est d’importance.

    Mais il faut dire quand même : qu’à Zürich, le trio embrasse toute l’histoire de l’improvisation européenne, faite d’expressions fulgurantes et de débris de patience ; qu’à force de va-et-vient, l’archet fait chavirer l’embarcation dans laquelle les musiciens ont pris place pour ne surtout pas se laisser porter par les courants ; que les notes sont rares mais, répétées, suffisent à remplir l’espace que l’auditeur est impatient de leur abandonner ; que casse-têtes (cette trompette empêchée par les cordes, ces connivences réévaluées sans cesse par les tensions, cette frappe sèche qui doit trouver le moment juste pour claquer sans agiter la progression musicale…) peuvent être sources d’inspiration quand ce sont Wooley, Weber et Lytton qui réfléchissent aux solutions ; qu’une note endurante peut faire un écrin d’un décors de limailles ; qu’enfin, ce sont-là Nate Woloey, Christian Weber et Paul Lytton qui improvisent.

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