36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022

Nate Wooley’s Knknighgh Quartet


Nate Wooley - tp
Lotte Anker - as
Felix Henkelhausen - b
Dre Hocevar – dr

“Get ready for a surprise. Free jazz never sounded like this before”, warned an influential critic in his review of Knknighgh’s debut album Minimal Poetry, which was released last year and was presented as a radical new take on the classic free jazz quartet tradition, namely as the 21st century music.

Nate Wooley, one of the most in-demand trumpet players in the burgeoning Brooklyn jazz, improv and noise music scenes, has assembled for this project some of the fieriest and wildest Brooklyn jazz innovators of the new generation: Chris Pitsiokos, Brandon Lopez and Dré Hočevar. The leader got inspired for this project by the poetry of Aram Saroyan, “the master of the one word poem”.

For Minimal Poetry Wooley wrote only one 13-bar theme, which got elaborated by musicians’ improvisations alluding to minimalist music, even more minimalist poetry.

The album’s success encouraged the trumpeter to carry on with the project. But he does so with two new characters besides himself and the drummer from the old line-up. The new quartet has embarked on European tour in October and will introduce their new album Brecht Series after New Year.

Nate Wooley is considered to be one of the leading lights of the American movement redefining the physical boundaries of the horn as well as demolishing the way trumpet is perceived in a historical context still overshadowed by Louis Armstrong. “Nate Wooley is one of the most interesting and unusual trumpet players living today, and that is without hyperbole”, acknowledged the trumpet innovator Dave Douglas without a grudge.

Wooley was born in a small town in Oregon, USA. He began playing trumpet professionally with his father, a big band saxophonist, at the age of 13. His time in Oregon, a place of relative quiet and slow time reference, instilled in Nate a musical aesthetic that has informed all of his music making for the past 20 years, but in no situation more than his solo trumpet performances. Starting with 2005, Wooley has released a number of solo recordings that include everything from alien acoustic soundscapes, laminal trumpet and tape compositions, and short minimalist studies to abstract conceptual work.

He is even more radical trumpet virtuoso in joined projects. No wonder: the list of his stage partners includes such icons as John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, Eliane Radigue, Ken Vandermark, Fred Frith, Evan Parker and Yoshi Wada. He has also collaborated with some of the brightest lights of his generation like Chris Corsano, C. Spencer Yeh, Peter Evans and Mary Halvorson.

The New York City Jazz Record voted Wooley “Musician of the Year” 2011 and 2013. An international critics poll in El Intruso Magazine elected him “Musician of the Year” in 2013 and “Trumpet Player of the Year” for three years in a row.

In 2016, Wooley received the prestigious Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artist Award.

Moreover, the musician 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. He also runs Pleasure of the Text Records, which releases music by composers of experimental music at the beginnings of their careers in rough and ready mediums.

Danish saxophonist, composer, bandleader and pedagogue Lotte Anker is one of the most influential figures on Scandinavian experimental jazz and contemporary music scenes. As a child she studied classical piano but took up the saxophone and improvised music in 1980, primarily influenced through the music of John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter.

She studied music at the Copenhagen University, participated in several courses and workshops lead by Joe Henderson, David Liebman, John Tchicai, Marilyn Mazur and David Murray. She also has a degree in composition from the Rhythmic Music Conservatory.

In 1988, Anker made a debut as a leader of her own quartet with piano player Mette Petersen. Later the quartet transformed into a quintet with Norwegian trumpeter Nils-Petter Molvær. In 1995, she became a member of the free improvising trio with guitarist with Hasse Poulsen and bassist Peter Friis-Nielsen.

1996–2013, was an important period in her biography: together with trombonist Ture Larsen she was co-leader of Copenhagen Art Ensemble dubbed the creative laboratory of jazz composers. The ensemble collaborated with the luminaries of improvised music such as Tim Berne, Django Bates, John Tchicai, Marilyn Mazur, Mats Gustafsson and Marc Ducret.

In 1997, the saxophonist worked in various formations with Marilyn Crispell, later with Ikue Mori and Fred Frith. 2003 saw the debut of her trio with keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver; 2006 – quintet Sonographic July with saxophonist Tim Berne; 2010 – octet What River Ensemble with Phil Minton, Fred Frith, Ikue Mori and Chris Cutler.

Her recent projects harvested collaborations with a number of great improvisers including Joelle Leandre and Raymond Strid, Johannes Bauer, Clayton Thomas and Paul Lovens. Besides working with her own groups, Anker is a member of various other Scandinavian collectives.

She has collaborated and toured with Peter Brotzmann, Miya Masaoka, Michael Formanek, Paal Nilssen-Love, Anders Jormin, Andrew Cyrille and other jazz coryphées. Moreover, she takes part in musical theatre projects.

With various formations she has toured Europe, the USA, Middle East, Asia and Africa. She is regularly teaching classes and courses in composition, ensemble and improvisation in Scandinavia, Germany, the USA, Canada, Poland, Syria and Vietnam.

In 2011, she was nominated for Nordic Council Music Prize.

Bassist Felix Henkelhausen, the quartet’s youngest member, is currently studying the double bass at the Jazz-Institute in Berlin. He started with classical piano and cello lessons, but switched to double bass in 2011.

Despite his young age (Felix is only 23 years old), he has played and toured with many a renowned musician such as Toby Delius, Eric Mcpherson, Marc Copland, Jochen Rueckert, Jim Black, Pablo Held, Gebhard Ullmann, Dan Nicholls, Sebastian Gille and many others. 

Young Slovenian drummer, composer and cross-disciplinary artist Dré Hočevar currently lives in Berlin, pursues Master’s degree in Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, frequently performs throughout Europe, Asia and the USA.

The musician graduated from Prince Claus Conservatory in Groningen (the Netherlands), honed his skills in The New School in New York (USA), Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music (Canada) and International Summer Course for New Music in Darmstadt (Germany).

In addition to performing, Hočevar is busy as a recording artist and also as festival curator and producer. As a leader of various groups he has six albums to his credit. Currently, he is directing ensembles Coding of Evidentiality, Collective Effervescence and Transcendental Within the Sphere of Indivisible Remainder, is a member of Nate Wooley’s Knknighgh Quartet, Zack Clarke’s Trio.

Notwithstanding his so far short career, the drummer has shared the stage with such jazz notables as Joe Morris, Stefan Prins, Lester St.louis, Bernardo Barros, Ken Vandermark, Steve Lehman, Brandon Lopez, Philip White, Reggie Workman, Henry Fraser, Tony Malaby, Mette Rasmussen, Chris Pitsiokos, Pascal Niggenkemper, Kaja Draksler and Michael Foster.

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