knknighgh (pronounced knife) is a radical new take on the classic free jazz quartet tradition. Inspired by the minimalist poems of Aram Saroyan, Wooley wrote only one short and fragmented for this group, which consists of three of the most interesting upcoming musicians in New York today: Chris Pitsiokos on alto saxophone, Brandon Lopez on bass, and Dre Hocevar on drums.
The group worked tirelessly on on pushing the simple 13 bar theme to its limits. Wooley wrote short fragmentary loop compositions that could be triggered by a simple auditory cue by anyone in the band, making this a form of composition by committee. The group finds new configurations of the almost non-existent material that give a fresh perspective on the free jazz aesthetic while forcing the players out of their comfort zones and into pure creative energy.
Clean Feed writes about the new release:
We can say without exaggeration that the new project by Nate Wooley introduces in the so-called “free jazz” format a system that few times – if ever – we encountered with such a relevance for the musical results since the harmolodic process proposed by Ornette Coleman. And the always surprising trumpeter is very much aware of the ground breaking possibilities of this band with the upcoming New York musicians Chris Pitsiokos, Brandon Lopez and Dré Hocevar, and of the music recorded in “Knknighgh” (to be pronounced as “knife”), when presenting it as «a radical new take on the classic free jazz quartet tradition». So it is: you immediately recognize the approach as free jazz, and yet, free jazz never sounded like this before.
The band uses short composed materials written by Wooley and those fragmented materials are looped and pushed to the limit, triggered by any of the players in whatever order chosen in the moment. At first, the procedure seems to adapt some of the repetitive strategies of minimal music, and yet again, it doesn’t sound like minimalism, and neither it is a crossover between free jazz and minimal music. Wooley’s new system gets its references outside of music, and namely in the poetry of Aram Saroyan, «the master of the one word poem», as punk singer and writer Richard Hell calls him. Of course, both Hell and Wooley are particularly interested in the musical qualities of Saroyan’s poetry, its rhythmic fluency, its alliterations, its repetition of syllabs and inherent sounds. From it, Nate Wooley created a new kind of free jazz in which less is more and the resume of a particular melodic phrase isn’t necessarily the reintroduction of a chorus line. Prepare yourself to be marveled…
Listen to a track from knknighgh's upcoming recording: Minimalist Poetry (for Aram Saroyan) out soon on Clean Feed Records
knknighgh's first recording, Minimalist Poetry (for Aram Saroyan) is now out on Clean Feed Records. The recording came at the end of a NY residency at the, now defunct, Manhattan Inn and signals the first peak of the quartet's powers to create and recreate Wooley's sparse songbook.
Copies will be available on the site very soon!
The quartet their first release at the 2017 Ljubljana Jazz Festival on July 1st. The performance was part of an unofficial "trumpet" night on the festival which also features Blue Note's Ambrose Akinmusire and Chicago Underground founder Rob Mazurek. The group played three versions of KNKNIGHGH to an enthusiastic crowd as the sun went down in the park of Cankarjev Dom. Many thanks to Bogdan Benigar and Pedro Costa!