High Bias #6
NAME: Nate Wooley
HOME: Jersey City, NJ
BIO: Nate Wooley (b. 1974) grew up in a Finnish-American fishing village in Oregon. He has spent the rest of his life trying musically to find a way back to the peace and quiet of that time by whole-heartedly embracing the space between complete absorption in sound and relative absence of the same. He began playing trumpet professionally at age 13 with his father, and after studying he moved to Colorado where he studied more with Ron Miles, Art Lande, Fred Hess, and improvisation master Jack Wright.
Nate currently resides in Jersey City, NJ and performs solo trumpet improvisations as well as collaborating with such diverse artists as Anthony Braxton, Paul Lytton, John Zorn, Fred Frith, Marilyn Crispell, Joe Morris, Steve Beresford, Wolf Eyes, Akron/Family, David Grubbs, C. Spencer Yeh, Daniel Levin, Stephen Gauci, Harris Eisenstadt, Taylor Ho Bynum and Peter Evans.
Do you read reviews of your work?
Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?
I usually only read them once, and that is just a skim. I never save them physically, but if there is a quote that I feel like I can use for a bio or press packet in the future I will write that down. It's not something that I often do, but sometimes a promoter or writer asks for one and I like to have it on hand.
Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?
I think early reviews had an impact on me. I was very tied up in how my work was viewed by the "public" and the press seemed to embody that. Especially during the release of those first couple of records, Blue Collar primarily, I would really take the reviews to heart, and think about what the writer was saying about my own playing and the group's dynamic and work on it while I was practicing. As I grew more confident, I took reviews more with a grain of salt than I would have previously. I would say now that reading a lot (relatively speaking) of reviews of recordings, that it has reinforced an attitude of keeping my head down and working hard making the music I want to make. There are still things that get mentioned that resonate or give me a little epiphany or reinforce something I've known about my own improvising but have been too lazy to address. I find that helpful, but for the most part, reviews have made me realize that there will never be anything that I do that everyone likes so I should just be as rigorous as I can with myself and let the chips fall where they will.
Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?
In the past, there were a couple of writers that I didn't like to look at my records, just because I got the feeling that they didn't get the joy of putting a little effort into listening to music. I've found that most of them aren't writing anymore and for the most part now, everyone that has written reviews has been honest and thoughtful, whether they like the record or not. That's all I can ask for as a musician. I do like a couple of writers specifically, and they don't always like my records, but Stef from freejazz.org , you (of course, and I'm not just kissing up), Massimo Ricci, Dan Warburton, Clifford Allen, Lyn Horton, Derek Taylor.....I just feel like a lot of pride is taken in their work and that they get a certain amount of joy out of unlocking abstract music.
Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one?
Never after a negative review. I don't think it accomplishes anything. I will send a thank you when I see a review, whether it is positive or not. At least I try to, although I'm a little behind in that these days. I think it is just a sign of respect.
Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?
Living in New York, you run across a lot of writers, and of course they become friends of some sort. I've always had nice conversations with you, for example, but I don't really think about them reviewing my work.
Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction?
Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.
Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?
I have never written about music in any serious way. I don't know why, but it would feel like a conflict of interest to me, so I don't do it. Plus, what would I say about a record? I listen to it once and have a certain idea, but I listen again in 6 months and the whole thing is different.
Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?
I don't really have an opinion on that, to tell you the truth. I just know my experience and really couldn't comment on other periods, not knowing what the experience was then.
(Photo: Peter Gannushkin, downtownmusic.net)