Joe Morris/Nate Wooley
Tooth And Nail (Clean Feed; 2010)
Joe Morris (acoustic guitar)
Nate Wooley (trumpet)
For me Joe Morris is a slightly new discovery. I don't own any of his material as leader. I mainly have a couple of records he's been on with Ken Vandermark--most notably a DKV Trio recording from 1998 entitled Deep Telling (Okkadisk). Nate Wooley, I was aware of through some his work with avant garde drummer Tyshawn Sorey.
So when I found this new duo recording with Nate Wooley, Tooth And Nail (Clean Feed), I decided to give it go. Knowing that Morris is an excellent guitarist and his oblique way of playing was something that I also thought was interesting and inventive; this album is probably going to very excited. And it is.
Tooth And Nail is an improvised and technically brilliant work. There a very sparse passages throughout with Morris delicately picking in far reaching angularity. Nate Wooley's creates some interesting soundscapes that seem like combinations of Arve Henriksen and Enrico Rava. There are some very interesting exchanges on "Gigantica" and "Steelhead" where you can hear the improvised moments but they work in such a timely fashion that it becomes a beautiful melody.
"Noble Reasoning" is another moment in which Wooley and Morris really take off. There is a simpatico that occurs towards the final few minutes of the piece that the notes come rolling fast and furious but its never overbearing or distracting. And it folds perfectly into the next piece "Forest Grove" where Morris' playing feels like cello in hands of an angry child.
The closing number "A Terrific Snag" is another scale jumping moment where Wooley's work really comes to the fore. While Joe Morris sets the parameters, Wooley is exercising some lovely and ingenious phrasing.
One of things that really attracted me to this record was the pairing of guitar (especially acoustic) and trumpet. It's rare. You usually see the regular pairing of drum and sax, sax and piano or sax and sax. Tooth And Nail felt like an anomaly. But its sounds like a well woven piece of art. It's a deep bit of storytelling but I think if you are a fan of Ken Vandermark and the Chicago and New York underground scenes you will definitely find Tooth And Nail a fascinating listen.