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Colorful Lights

Nate Wooley

Nate Wooley (b.1974) was born in Clatskanie, Oregon and began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. He made his debut as soloist with the New York Philharmonic at the opening series of their 2019 season. Considered one of the leading lights of the American movement to redefine the physical boundaries of the horn, Wooley has been gathering international acclaim for his idiosyncratic trumpet language.

Wooley moved to New York in 2001 and has since become one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz, improv, noise, and new music scenes. He has performed regularly with John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Annea Lockwood, Ken Vandermark, Evan Parker, and Yoshi Wada. He has premiered works for trumpet by Christian Wolff, Michael Pisaro, Annea Lockwood, Ash Fure, Wadada Leo Smith, Sarah Hennies and Eva-Maria Houben.

In recent years, he has built a reputation as a composer of music epic in scope and social in design. His series of solo works based on the International Phonetic Alphabet, The Complete Syllables Music, was compared to the literary work of Georges Perec and hailed as “revolutionary solo repertoire” by All About Jazz. At the other end of the spectrum, his decade-long Seven Storey Mountain cycle has encompassed almost 50 different performers, the most recent version consisting of a 32-person ensemble. This iteration, Seven Storey Mountain VI, “expresses communality, with all of its potential for the profound and the spiritual,” according to Pitchfork. SSMVI appeared on many year-end lists, including as record of the year in El Intruso’s International Critics List and critic Peter Margasak’s personal list.


Another branch of Wooley’s compositional work is his commitment to the concept of Mutual Aid Music, beginning with the quartet work Battle Pieces, commissioned by Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Foundation in 2014, and including a short-lived, but powerful compositional set entitled knknighgh in homage to poet Aram Saroyan. MAM has since matured into a full chamber ensemble work for double quartet and has been expanded through collaborative work with Annea Lockwood (Becoming Air, release on Black Truffle Records 2021), choreographers Kim Brandt, Jen Mesch, and Anna Sperber, and with commissions by TILT Brass, Loadbang Ensemble, and Dither Quartet.

Wooley received the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award in 2016. He was the recipient of the Instant Award for Improvised Music and the Spencer Glendon First Principles Award in 2020. He is a 2022 NYFA/NYSCA Fellow in Music and Sound.

He is the curator of the Database of Recorded American Music and the editor-in-chief of their online quarterly journal Sound American both of which are dedicated to broadening the definition of American music through their online presence and the physical distribution of music through Sound American Records. He also runs Pleasure of the Text which releases music by composers of experimental music at the beginnings of their careers in rough and ready mediums.


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