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Cologne: Battle Pieces

January 27, 2016 @ LOFT Köln in Cologne.

Nate Wooley – trumpet, Ingrid Laubrock – tenor sax, Sylvie Courvoisier – piano, Matt Moran – vibraphone

Zwei der herausragendsten Frauen der New Yorker Down Town Szene in der All Star Band des Trompeters und Komponisten Nate Wooley.

Battle Pieces is a new project of trumpeter and composer Nate Wooley. This word project is thrown around loosely these days in the jazz world and has come to mean anything from a one time recording to a working band. In Wooley’s hands, project takes on its full meaning with Battle Pieces. It is not just a new group of musicians to improvise with in a familiar style, but an opportunity to investigate a new compositional language and what the results might accomplish toward a pan-stylistic improvisational style.

After working with jazz composition in the quintet and varying degrees of electro-acoustic and aleatoric work with his ongoing Seven Storey Mountain and Syllables work, Battle Pieces is a chance to experiment with the social aspect of making music by writing pieces that put the players in uncomfortable situations where they are challenged and supported by the other musicians in the group.

Of course, this means that the musicians must be of a special kind: sensitive, virtuosic, open, and with that special glimmer of creativity that makes them put themselves in precarious musical positions just to see how they can work their way out. For Battle Pieces, Wooley has collected three such musicians who eagerly undertook the task; transcended the task in fact.

Matt Moran is a long time collaborator of Wooley’s in the NW5, and is one of the unsung heroes of the vibraphone, making a fixed pitch instrument shimmer with microtones or sound like an analog synthesizer.

Ingrid Laubrock is easily one of the most in demand and deeply sensitive musicians working today. Her saxophone playing deftly moves between straight down the pike jazz shredding to sound exploration and microscopic cellular phrasing.

Sylvie Courvoisier has found that rare balance between terrifying destructive power inside the piano and virtuosic lyricism on its keyboard. Her work is kaleidoscopically shifting in such a way that you can never pin her down except to say that she is truly an individual voice.

And now that the correct musicians have been collected, how do you challenge them; What is a Battle Piece? Simply put, Wooley’s Battle Pieces are small concerti for improvisers. Each piece is written as a trio composition, leaving the remaining musician with nothing to look at, memorize, or “understand” as a basis of their improvisation. The remaining three musicians make their way through a series of musical events, some of which are aleatoric in nature; some pure sound; some notated in time. The ways in which they combine or mimic each other is up to the players performing the notated score and changes in the moment with each and every performance. The remaining improvisor if then left to navigate the ever changing set of materials, placing him or herself into or out of the texture of the group: creating solos, duos, quartet semi-improvisations and pieces. The piece resets itself for the next performance; forcing the improvisor to stretch themselves to a new set of criteria and keep them on the edge where the interesting music happens.

A recording of Battle Pieces will be released on the Relative Pitch label at the end of 2014. A live concert from Anthony Braxton’s Tricentric Festival (the event which commissioned Wooley for these pieces), the recording captures a singular performance of the works, already changing through new possibilities and sensibilities. It has the feeling of being on the edge that improvisation and jazz should be known for. The group will tour in 2016 with new compositions by Wooley and other conceptual spanners thrown into the works to keep the quartet on its toes.

Address: Wissmannstr. 30, Cologne
Battle Pieces

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