By Bill Meyer | Published January 2018
Pronounce it “knife.” Knknighgh is a tribute to the minimal poetry of Aram Saroyan, whose one-word poem “Lighght” earned an award from the NEA. Inspired by Saroyan’s potent economy, trumpeter Nate Wooley provided his ensemble, whose instrumentation replicates that of Ornette Coleman’s classic late-’50s quartet, with just one 13-bar theme and a handful of looped phrases. Each of the album’s tracks, which last between six and 16 minutes, is developed from these spare resources, but that’s more than enough to fashion an album that bristles with invention.
Wooley’s accompanists are all young but highly accomplished musicians, with a collective background that spans jazz, radical improvisation and new music composition, and they find in his spare materials instigations for abrupt, contrapuntal configurations, tumbling blow-outs and passages of dry, well-developed lyricism. The musicians treat unconventional and familiar techniques non-hierarchically, which gives the music a mercurial quality.
Wooley uses Saroyan’s example of concentrated abstraction, layered meaning and engagement with essential materials to find a new way for musicians to work together.
Knknighgh: Knknighgh 3; Knknighgh 4; Knknighgh 6; Knknighgh 7; Knknighgh 8. (56:54)
Personnel: Nate Wooley, trumpet; Chris Pitsiokos, alto saxophone; Bradon Lopez, bass; Dre Hocevar, drums.