A continuation of last week's post, here's Part 2 of a celebration of spit, brass and air: solo trumpet music.
One of my favorite new labels is Off, a spinoff of the Stilll label out of Belgium. So far Off has given us several excellent genre-defying albums of top quality. I liked the Don Shtone record, Beware of the Cat, a snappy groove-based jazz recontextualization, and am really digging the current WFMU New Bin denizen Colorlist. Off also released a fabulous solo trumpet excursion from Toshinori Kondo, who may be best known for his work with the Die Like a Dog quartet featuring Peter Brotzmann, Hamid Drake and William Parker. (Check out their scorching albums, Little Birds Have Fast Hearts 1 & 2) Kondo is known for electrifying and treating his trumpet sounds with heavy delay, reverb and other effects reminiscent of Miles's electric experiments of the early '70s. The songs on the album could almost be classic analog synth compositions from the Ohm box set, slowly building in ethereal atmosphere with a minimal and otherworldly vibe. While some solo trumpet albums tend to seem like recorded practice sessions, Kondo's plays like an album in the classic sense. And unlike some examples herein, you can actually tell he's playing a trumpet! Toshinori Kondo - Clear Water (from Silent Melodies)
Speaking of WFMU's New Bin, we've seen two older Tom Djll albums appear there of late, both getting quite a bit of airplay. Bellerophone sees Djll working with untreated trumpet and offering a clinic on what the instrument can do in the right hands, from staccato bursts, to moans and groans, to soft spatial passages. Smudge is Djll's digital album, the trumpet being only the basis for an array of electronic/digital manipulations. In both cases, however post-everything he may sound, I can't help but envision Djll as the latest in a line of trumpeters that starts with Bubber Miley and Cootie Williams and includes the Art Ensemble's Lester Bowie. His version of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime", not totally indicative of what the rest of the album is like, reminds me of Lester's take on "Hello Dolly" and it's a fine example of Tom Djll the trumpet player. Tom Djll - Brother, Can You Spare a Dime (from Bellerophone)
Much respect belongs to the Creative Sources label out of Lisbon, quietly and meticulously documenting the new breed of improvisers and encouraging solo releases. Barcelona-based Ruth Barberán is a name I might not have heard of if I didn't watch the CS roster like a hawk. Ruth's take on the trumpet is abstract, to say the least, and involves the slow development of small gutteral textures, utilizing spittle, mutes, and the trumpet's brass tubes to create sounds one would think not possible. It's a quiet type of fanfare, all scraping and buzzing, manipulating the edges of silence. (For more Barberán, check out Mattin's "net label" Desetxea to hear a trio setting with Ferran Fages on turntable and Alfredo Costa Monteiro on accordian.) Ruth Barberán Untitled from Capacidad de Pérdida.
Creative Sources also released the solo pièce de résistance of Jersey City's Nate Wooley, Wrong Shape to Be a Storyteller. Nate is active in a variety of jazz and beyond-jazz settings and plays on one of my current favorite releases, Daniel Levin Quartet's Blurry on HatOLOGY. It's a spacious vibes/cello/trumpet/bass configuration that simultaneously reminds me of Eric Dolphy's Out to Lunch (maybe the vibes) and the quieter edge of free jazz like Jimmy Giuffre (RIP). Anyway, the instrumentation accentuates Nate Wooley's strengths: he's good at plugging silent spaces and then erecting new ones. In fact, it's almost as if instead of filling silence with sound, like most musicians, he seems to be doing just the opposite, as if his trumpet's been sounding for all eternity. A few years back Wooley released a 3" CD with some great whale cover art called The Boxer. It's a twenty minute drone piece of stark beauty, excerpted here, apparently created from processed trumpet sounds, though not really sounding like much of a trumpet at all. Nate Wooley - The Boxer (from The Boxer 3")