Battle Pieces sprouted from a 2014 commission for Anthony Braxton's Tri-Centric Music Festival. Given free reigh to work with new ideas, Wooley picked three improvisers who embodied grace and power within the jazz world, but also displayed a profound desire to question and to push their own abilities without fear: Ingrid Laubrock on saxophones, Sylvie Couvoisier on piano, and Matt Moran on vibraphone.
The music written for Battle Pieces was the first within a system Wooley calls "social music" (of which the new quartet knknighgh and the upcoming Deeply Discounted series are a continuance). Each piece is constructed for a single soloist, who improvises with no score. The remaining members of the group perform an ever changing kaleidoscope of short and long pieces without verbal recourse with each other or the soloist. The result is four improvisers constantly on the knife's edge and creating sometimes gorgeous and sometimes uncomfortable new pathways through music that is never the same twice. Different than freely improvising, this structure–now each player freely chooses from over 75 distinct compositions to combine with each other under the soloist–forces these great improvisers to confront new ways of making music away and expands their personal musical language.
Listen to a track from Battle Pieces II, an upcoming release on Relative Pitch Records, recorded live at The Loft in Koeln, Germany.
Battle Pieces II will be released on Relative Pitch Records in the summer of 2017. The disc consists of a live concert in Germany from their December 2015 European tour and is a fantastic document of how the Battle Pieces system and composition set has evolved over the life of the group.
The quartet's first disc, Battle Pieces, is still available from Relative Pitch. After a highly successful tour in Europe, a New York appearance with guest soloist Tim Berne, and a very well-received concert in Sardinia, the Battle Pieces book now numbers upwards of 75 discrete compositions and the group is full committed to a new construction of musical ideas.