Easily the most traditional and "accessible" of Wooley's projects. the Nate Wooley Quintet is entering its eighth year with its current line up. Since it's beginning the quintet, in the orchestration of Eric Dolphy's classic "Out To Lunch" recordings, has challenged the prevailing, as well as their own personal, notions of what the jazz tradition is and can be.
Beginning with (Put Your) Hands Together (dedicated to the women who raised Wooley) and through (Sit In) The Throne of Friendship (on the idea of social relation), the quintet has developed a highly personal sound while navigating Wooley's construction and deconstruction of idioms such as the jazz waltz, dixieland, free jazz and bebop.
The pinnacle of this exploration, to this point, has been the quintet's third release: (Dance To) The Early Music, in which they took their fresh approach and turned it toward the early music of Lincoln Center stalwart Wynton Marsalis. This disc, placed in a time of ironic or laudatory tribute recordings, is nothing but an attempt to turn new eyes on music that had a profound impact on Wooley in his youth. It met with tremendous success, being named jazz record of the year by many sources and placing #2 on the Chicago Reader's records of the year alongside pop and classical releases.
The group has toured extensively and is gearing up new music that features each of the players in a way that shows off their incredibly individuality; each performer being a monstrous improviser and savvy band leader in their own right. The group will record these pieces in early 2018 for release later that year. All recordings of the quintet have been released on Clean Feed Records.
Listen to "For Wee Folks" from (Dance To) The Early Music out on Clean Feed Records
NATE CHINEN-The trumpeter Nate Wooley can usually be found along the avant-garde spectrum, working with formal abstraction and extended technique. But he isn’t an ironist, something worth keeping in mind as it applies to his new release, “(Dance to) the Early Music” (Clean Feed). A spin through the early small-group repertory of Wynton Marsalis, it’s an album whose concept runs perilously close to prankish: Your gut reaction may depend on how you feel about white musicians rooting around in “Black Codes (From the Underground),” the sociopolitically charged album Mr. Marsalis made 30 years ago....
...But it’s clear Mr. Wooley has seriously engaged with this music as an earnest challenge. His quintet wisely features Josh Sinton on bass clarinet rather than tenor saxophone, and Matt Moran on vibraphone, instead of piano. (As for the drummer Harris Eisenstadt and the bassist Eivind Opsvik, they bring a light touch to a heavy assignment.) There are some atonal flare-ups, like the trumpet prologue on “Skain’s Domain,” but by and large, the band meets the music on its own terms, making an implicit point about the overstatement of a historical rift in jazz, and the unforeseen ways in which inspiration can flow.