Trumpeter Nate Wooley's Seven Storey Mountain project is an on-going endeavor to express this iconoclastic, boundary-pushing artist's vision, which has a gargantuan element reminiscent of a Mahler, Wagner or Bruckner.
The instrumentation plays a big part in the effect of symphonic grandeur, to some extent, but it is also the nature of the writing and imagination that are at play. Wooley as leader, trumpeter and composer has here recruited nine other players of his own picking who provide a wide palette of colors, from amplified violin (C, Spenser Yeh and Samara Lubelski), to drums (Ryan Sawyers and Ben Hall), bass saxophone (Colin Stetson), amplified tuba (Dan Peck), vibraphone (Matt Moran and Chris Dingman) and amplified contrabass clarinet (Josh Sinton). Added to this, and widening the palette even more, is the Tilt Brass Octet made up of three trumpets (one of them a piccolo) and five trombones. The effect is, indeed massive.
What is most remarkable, however (and a quality that makes this music akin to the work of the grand composers mentioned above) is the ability of the performance to convey an intimacy and an imposing grandeur at the same time. The music is slow moving, evolving over nearly 50 minutes, in a minimalist and subtle fashion, yet its scope is enormous and its effect profound and moving.
The title of this ongoing project is derived from the autobiography of mystic Thomas Merton and the music here is, likewise, mystical and spiritual.
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