GREG KELLEY

i don't want to live forever
Little Enjoyer1/Gameboy 73

NATE WOOLEY
Wrong Shape to be a Story Teller
Creative Sources 038 CD

Docked in the farthest reaches of brass experimentation, neither of these CDs is designed for a casual listener. Unvarnished real-time records of solo trumpet manipulation, together the twitters, shrills, hisses and silences are as far removed from melodic as you can get. Both single track improvisations – Jersey City, N.J.’s trumpeter Nate Wooley’s is a touch under 51¼ minutes, and Boston’s Greg Kelley’s a few seconds longer than 36 minutes – they prove that in the right hands, the textures from three-valve brass can be as expressive yet as unidentifiable as those that come from reed instruments or even electronics.

An old hand at so-called non-electronic electronica, this is Kelley’s third solo trumpet CD. Unlike the earlier ones, he uses shrill, extended spring drum vibrations to contrast with his cyclone-force trumpet breaths here. Someone who often works with bassist Mike Bullock or saxophonist Bhob Rainey in minimalist surroundings, he has also recorded full-out Free Jazz with saxophonist Paul Flaherty and drummer Chris Corsano. Close in age and experience with Kelley, most of Wooley’s other recordings have been in a group context. He is part of saxophonist Assif Tsahar’s massive New York Underground Orchestra and in the Blue Collar trio with trombonist Steve Swell and percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani.

Preoccupied in general with the idea of using the breath as an organic meter, this CD features Wooley experimenting with tongue pops, lip sucking, capillary twitters and pipe scrapes. Separated by meaningful silences, this exercise in extended technique runs from concentrated, moderato electro-acoustic waveforms to shrill wavering movements. Sometimes the buzzing growls and budgie-like twitters stand on their own. Other places the circulation of air through the lead tube takes on the characteristics of a whistling kettle coming to a boil.

Valve manipulation is at a minimum, but as these watery slurs and shrill wavering tones concentrate into a protoplasmic, wiggling mass other vibrations can be sensed as well. Studio crackle and hiss are worked into the piece as are hollow tube resonation and tongue slaps. One, perhaps inadvertent, dramatic peak arrives mid-way through with a single whack of the trumpet against the mic. Then after squeaky oscillations, the finale involves a sequence of very fast rhythmic pulses followed by what sounds like glass shattering.

A fine first effort which alternately mocks and accurately lives up to its title, WRONG SHAPE TO BE A STORY TELLER would honestly have been more memorable if it was even more concise.

I DON’T WANT TO LIVE FORVER is brief enough. It also attains more textural diversity, when the piercing friction of metal rasping against metal interpolates shrill spring-drum timbres into the wind-whistling ambient sound. Wedded to radio wave static interludes and expanses of silence, without these jarring high-pitched shrills, the elongated rumbling reverb may have been too lulling. Dedicated to the shaping of respiration, the track implies that Kelley’s undulating trumpet has connected with fresh sonic pulsations before it cuts off the sound source for an ending… or a new beginning.

Axel Dörner and Birgit Ulher among others are pushing the bounds of trumpet improvisation from a European perspective. Bringing that concept further, Kelley and Wooley are doing the same thing in the United States.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Forever: 1. i don't want to live forever

Personnel: Forever: Greg Kelley (trumpet and spring drum)

Track Listing: Wrong: Wrong Shape to be a Story Teller

Personnel: Wrong: Nate Wooley {trumpet}