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sold out

Blue Collar - Lovely Hazel
CD (NYC)



-48/1
-61
-110
-76
-74
-47
-31/1
-30
-48/2




Nate Wooley - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Voice
Steve Swell - Trombone, Voice
Tatsuya Nakatani - Percussion

Reviews:
(Downtown Music Gallery) This is the companion album to last year's Rossbin release by this NYC trio, material from the same 2003 recording sessions with the same vivid and powerful recording quality. Like that fresh jewel of multi-directional free improv, there's a lot of variety from piece to piece on Lovely Hazel, and there's no difference in overall character I can cite. This disc really captures Nakatani's current sound as well as any other; on the opening track "48/1" (check out the elegant numerical titles!) you wouldn't even really know there was a percussionist with his incredible bowed and scraped textures blending with the trumpet and trombone noise scultpure--for that matter, it's not even obvious there's a trumpet and trombone! Dense, shifting textures of complex acoustic timbres with mysterious dynamic shifts--I'm in heaven! But Nakatani usually favors isolated, dramatic percussive strikes, like the resonant booms on "47", which is almost like slow Kodo drumming without the predictable licks. Swell and Wooley's confident, loud, sustained brass tones cannot be punctuated by this punctuation; they defy time and occasionally collapse into unexpected and inexplicable chunks of sound complexity. In "74" Nakatani shows his knack for making sudden, powerful composite gestures, pounding his bass drum at the same time he creates a fast buzzing/scraping sound with a metal rod, and in "110" he shows he can tear it up with some Lytton-grade high-velocity skitters, a bit of an anomaly for a generally slow-paced disc. On "48/2" Nakatani's trademark massive bowed percussion blends with sustained brass language extensions to create a shifting, thick meta-drone with a bracing, penetrating sharpness and exquisite slowness. If Dumitrescu were to hear this album, I bet he'd have these guys on the first available flight to Romania! By and large, the defining sound of Blue Collar is the unconventional and unbridled brass experimentalism of Wooley and Swell, who freely range from microscopically detailed and quiet Doerner-style acoustics-as-electronics passages to harsh blustering at the outer fringes of brass timbres. The music cuts across recent trends in improvised music, often favoring a restricted, economical, sparse, slow style, but it's usually somewhat loud, explosive, and faintly "expressive" instead of being quiet and austere. Unique and powerful music by accomplished musicians at the nexus of current developments in improvised music. This is that hot mix of FMP-style free improv and Tibetan ritual orchestra jams you've been waiting for all these years. It's here. Dig it. - Michael Anton Parker

(Touching Extremes 7/2005) The trio of Nate Wooley (trumpet, flugelhorn, voice) Steve Swell (trombone, voice) and Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion) plays with perennial ardour in a bang-for-the-buck cycle of unpretentious trajectories, where nervous irony and marginal seriousness imperceptibly depict a multiform structure of moving particles in peculiar rituals. In the nine tracks of "Lovely Hazel" we're treated to new shapes of controlled freedom whose refreshing abstraction enhances both the musicians' performance and our competence in interpretating their short stories of disembodied formulae. Always instant composers, never sheer noise makers, these men provide lots of good sounding impulses to the utopian desire we secretly grow within us when thinking to subvert the world order while playing an instrument; unfortunately, it's usually much easier running towards the opposite side, wrapped in total numbness.The trio of Nate Wooley (trumpet, flugelhorn, voice) Steve Swell (trombone, voice) and Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion) plays with perennial ardour in a bang-for-the-buck cycle of unpretentious trajectories, where nervous irony and marginal seriousness imperceptibly depict a multiform structure of moving particles in peculiar rituals. In the nine tracks of "Lovely Hazel" we're treated to new shapes of controlled freedom whose refreshing abstraction enhances both the musicians' performance and our competence in interpretating their short stories of disembodied formulae. Always instant composers, never sheer noise makers, these men provide lots of good sounding impulses to the utopian desire we secretly grow within us when thinking to subvert the world order while playing an instrument; unfortunately, it's usually much easier running towards the opposite side, wrapped in total numbness. - Massimo Ricci

(Ampersand Etcetera 7/2005) A trio of trumpet/flugelhorn, trombone and percussion that explores the squeaky puttering improvisation that often approaches electronica - or the blowy squonk of the instruments. The second half of the album was more successful to me, with 74 demonstrating some delicate percussion, long horn sounds and a nice balance between the instruments, or 47 with surprising foreshortened notes that live between the instruments and breath. An invocation of long sweetly bending tones in 31/1 approaches music, and after a jumpy percussive 30 the final track (48/2) is densely ambient and includes some voices. While focussing on the last tracks doesn¹t mean the first aren¹t good, just less adventurous or attractive to my ears. A jewel-encased disk, for some reason, this is enjoyable playing. - Jeremy Keens

(Inkoma 8/15/2005) Recorded in late 2oo3, but realised this year, the NYC trio here features with an excellent instant Music performance, with trumpet, trombone and percussion as formula, - through a kind of almost unclassified free-jazz variety, such so unclassificable that even tracks cannot have titles, but numbers in their place. There's a particular attention and creativity in shifting and forging brass and percussive sounds, always in a perfect balance notwithstanding the multiform improvisation as well even when the form is more classic (the dense funereal ode of 31/1). You can hear the "Music" coming out of silence (47) like a free enchanting conversation of whispers between instruments, now suffocating, droning, then screaming and aching, where also percussions have a own language extension, almost touched, then scratched with brushes, and then beaten harder, opening and closing timbres, passing from static impulse to earth-quake (61 is explosive..). This record is pure perfection, and such it is the last track 48/2 a strong crescendo of mesmerising pathos. Nate Wooley (trumpet, flugelhorn, voice) Steve Swell (trombone, voice) and Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion) deserve Your attention. - Paolo Miceli

(Neo-Zine) Very quirky and certainly improvisational. We get trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, percussion, and vocalizations. This is not the way your old music teacher taught you how to play those instruments. It sounds very much like a struggle, like the instruments themselves once had life, but are now struggling with their own last breaths. These “songs” are more “raw sound” than they are structured compositions. This can be entertaining, even comical at times. It can rub you the wrong way at other times. My overall opinion is that the experiment was a success, but that it has very little practical application. - CHC

(All About Jazz) Blue Collar is experimental jazz power trio. Wooley teams up with two of the finest musicians to be found in any style - the peerless trombonist Steve Swell and Tatsuya Nakatani, a dazzlingly innovative percussionist - and the result is smart and winsome chaos. Here, Wooley's expanding quiver of sounds is profoundly multiplied by those of his veteran comrades. Lovely Hazel seems almost easy listening after Wooley's solo disc, but a similar caveat applies: it's not for the sweet of tooth. You won't encounter anything further from top 40 pop, or more rewarding to your patience. - Ty Cumbie

(Dead Angel) Blue Collar is an improv trio consisting of Nate Wooley (trumpet, flugelhorn, voice), Steve Swell (trombone, voice), and Tatsuya Nakatani (percussion). This cd (apparently a companion to an earlier release on a different label, but about that I know little) contains nine slices of musical interaction with titles like "48/1," "110," "31/1," and "48/2." I have no idea what this means, unless it's some reference to time signatures or tempos... but that sure doesn't sound like any time signatures I ever heard of! The material on this disc was recorded in two sessions in September, 2003. The pieces range in length from approximately three to eight minutes, more than enough time in each case for the participants to rock the house. The trio meshes well; it definitely helps to have a percussionist as manic and skilled as Tatsuya to keep the beat under control while the windy ones bleat and chatter like geese honking at each other. I don't know what a flugelhorn looks like, but it sure is capable of making seriously demented sounds. As nifty as Wooley and Swell are, though, it's Tatsuya's imaginative percussion that prove to be the most riveting. Another fine document of unorthodox sound transmission from always-swank Public Eyesore. - RKF

(One Final Note 12/19/05) Sussing out the meaning behind band names can be speculative business. In Blue Collar’s case the inference seems to be that of the machine shop, the factory, or the garage, all repositories of heavy tools and equipment. The band’s shared sound reminds me a bit of Bill Dixon’s work, but with a more industrial bent; or the contents of an antique Mose Asch Folkways LP documenting the ambient environs of a steel mill. Nate Wooley and Steve Swell comprise the brass side of the trio on trumpet and flugelhorn, and trombone respectively. Tatsuya Nakatani occupies the third spot on drum kit and percussion. Friction is the fuel on most of the nine pieces whether voiced through valves, slide, or struck and scraped surfaces. Jazz of any sort of conventional guise doesn’t enter the surroundings much at all. The music has more in common with free improv and even on occasion the sound-as-texture canvases of eai. But Wooley, Swell, and Nakatani don’t waste time riveting labels to their endeavors. Even the track titles receive only numerical ascriptions. “48/1” takes flight as pursed and puckered embouchures parse moist metallic drones and sputters. The effect in places is like chalk on blackboard. Not shrill scrapes, but rather murmuring scribbles. Both Wooley and Swell affix an assortment of muting implements, corking their bells to allow breath to escape in bent dovetailing gusts. Their bleating staccato overlap on tracks like “61” and “76” generate engrossing tonal contrasts and confluences while Nakatani pounds an undulating pulse on floor tom. “31/1” resolves sustained, echo-saturated tones with a cavernous malleted backdrop. Gamelan overtones arise out of “30” on bells and bowls while the horns exhort and extol with another barrage of agitated slurs. For “74” it’s braiding foghorn blasts bracketed by the rising swell of bells and sparse stick flutters. A master of percussive dynamics, at times Nakatani sounds like he’s rolling steel-belted radials over his kit or attacking it with a steam-shovel set to slo-mo speed; at other junctures the clatter erodes to a dull and distant funereal drone. At an hour’s length the program touches the edges of tedium, but the three players keep their explorations moving at an expeditious pace through sudden bursts of flurried activity. Blue Collar doesn’t concern itself with drafting music of any traditionally structured sense. Here it’s the visceral extemporaneous feeling that matters more than any mappable architecture. In this sense it makes for a refreshingly mutable outlet for the three players. The disc carries a dedication to one of Wooley’s loved ones and while it may seem a bit strange for such harsh and metallic music to carry such a fealty, the odd snatches of beauty offer explanation enough. - Derek Taylor

(Three Imaginary Girls) Wooley's trio Blue Collar places his mutated blowing in a group context, with trombonist Steve Swell and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, both equally willing to use their axes in ways for which they were not intended. Their second CD, Lovely Hazel (Public Eyesore), is far less minimalist than Wooley's solo works, if only because there are two other performers filling in the gaps when he pauses. Compared to most sane people's definition of music, this is still willfully obscurantist, aggressively atonal music, but relative to the lowercase world in which Blue Collar resides, this is boisterous enough to sound like fucking P-Funk. 9 tracks, primarily residing in the 6- to 8-minute range, each named by some obscure numbering system that ensures that abstraction rules the day. Titles would only implant ideas in the listener's mind, after all, and the idea here is the exploration of pure sound. But by the second track, they have allowed their instruments, at least sometimes, to sound like what they are. All three are equal partners in building from tiny points of skronk and scrape into multi-faceted aural sculptures; the conversations often work best when all three chatter at once. There is an almost gleeful compatibility of sound at these times, and if Blue Collar can't carry a tune, they sure as hell can sing. - Shaun Brady


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