Composers Sylvie Courvoisier and Nate Wooley return to Roulette for a two-part presentation of new work. Intrepid pianist Sylvie Courvoisier appears alongside bassist Drew Gress and percussionist Kenny Wollesen as a trio, before joining Nate Wooley for the return of Battle Pieces. In its fourth iteration at Roulette, this ever-expanding set of compositions began in 2014 as a commission for Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Music Festival and is first within a system Wooley calls “social music.” The piece embodies Wooley’s desire to explore kaleidoscopic sonic boundaries through fearless playing. Wooley and Courvoisier are joined by improvisers Ingrid Laubrock on saxophones and Matt Moran on vibraphone.
Sylvie Courvoisier Trio
Sylvie Courvoisier – Piano
Drew Gress – Bass
Kenny Wollesen – Drums
Battle Pieces IV
Nate Wooley – Trumpet
Sylvie Courvoisier – Piano
Ingrid Laubrock – Saxophones
Matt Moran – Vibraphone
Sprouting from a 2014 commission for Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Music Festival, the music written for Battle Pieces was the first within a system Wooley calls “social music.” Each piece is constructed for a single soloist, who improvises with no score. The remaining members of the group perform an ever-changing kaleidoscope of short and long pieces without verbal recourse with each other or the soloist. The result is four improvisers constantly on the knife’s edge and creating sometimes gorgeous and sometimes uncomfortable new pathways through music that is never the same twice. Different than freely improvising, this structure–that now has each player freely choosing from over 75 distinct compositions to combine with each other under the soloist–forces these great improvisers to confront new ways of making music and expands their personal musical language.
Nate Wooley was born in 1974 in Clatskanie, Oregon, a town of 2,000 people in the timber country of the Pacific Northwestern corner of the U.S. 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.
Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist, composer, and improviser. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Courvoisier moved to New York in 1998 and has lived in Brooklyn since that time. Courvoisier has led multiple groups over the years and has recorded 8 albums as a bandleader and 50 albums (25 as a co-leader and 25 as a side-person) for different labels, notably ECM, Tzadik and Intakt Records.
Originally from Germany, Ingrid Laubrock resides in Brooklyn, NY. Between 1989 and 2009 she was active as a saxophonist and composer in London/UK. She worked with: Anthony Braxton, Muhal Richards Abrams, Dave Douglas, Kenny Wheeler, Jason Moran, Tim Berne, William Parker, Tom Rainey, Mary Halvorson, Kris Davis, Tyshawn Sorey, Craig Taborn, Luc Ex, Django Bates’ Human Chain, The Continuum Ensemble and many others.
Vibraphonist and tunesmith Matt Moran “plays the vibraphone like a speed-chess master, always darting off into flurries of ingenious, unexpected activity” (Village Voice). He has performed and recorded with artists as diverse as Mat Maneri, Lionel Hampton, Combustible Edison, Ellery Eskelin, and Saban Bajramovic. Moran’s sound is integral to an innovative group of New York musicians who blur the boundaries of composition, improvisation, and folk traditions.
“Some pianists approach the instrument like it’s a cathedral – Sylvie Courvoisier sometimes treats it like a playground,” observes Kevin Whitehead aptly in the liner notes to D’Agala (Intakt), the latest album by the Sylvie Courvoisier Trio. “In two minutes, she covers more ground than some pianists get to in a set.” He goes on to compare the venturesome interaction of this trio with a pioneering jazz icon from the 1950s: “There is something Herbie Nichols-like about the Courvoisier-Gress-Wollesen trio’s feel: collective music-making as light-on-its-feet fun; a genuine trio music in which bass and drums are full partners with piano.” That striking cohesion and collective sense of play are what mark the Swiss pianist and her esteemed American rhythm mates as kindred spirits in the areas of color, groove, and melody. The group’s European tour in April-May 2018 celebrates the January release of D’Agala. Courvoisier, who has been a fixture on the New York scene for nearly 20 years, released her first album with Gress and Wollesen in 2014, when Double Windsor (Tzadik) was named Album of the Year by both Slate and New York City Jazz Record, along with receiving the “CHOC” from Jazz Magazine and Jazzman in France. Beyond the trio, Courvoisier earned renown for balancing two distinct worlds – the richly detailed depth of her European chamber-music roots and the grooving, hook-laden sounds of the downtown New York jazz scene. Her long partnership with violinist Mark Feldman – acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic – has resulted in a seemingly telepathic duo, as well as a quartet. Courvoisier has worked with a who’s who in avant-jazz, including John Zorn, Wadada Leo Smith, Evan Parker, Ikue Mori, Ellery Eskelin, Susie Ibarra, Fred Frith, and Mary Halvorson. — Bradley Bambarger
Kenny Wollesen is a drummer, vibraphonist, percussionist and instrument builder based in New York City. He is the founder of the Wollesonic Laboratories (http://www.wollesonic.com) and the mastermind behind Sonic Massages and the Himalayas marching band. He has worked with John Zorn, Norah Jones, Tom Waits, Sean Lennon, Ben Goldberg, Steve Bernstein, Jonas Mekas, Butch Morris, Ilhan Ersahin, Hal Wilner, Eivind Opsvik, John Medeski, JIm Hall .He has recorded and toured with all kinds of musicians, from Tom Waits (Wollesen performs on Waits’ 1993 collaboration with William S. Burroughs, Black Rider), to Sean Lennon, to Ron Sexsmith (Wollesen performs on his second album, Other Songs). A founding member of the New Klezmer Trio, Wollesen is also all over N.Y.C.’s downtown jazz and avant-garde musicians’ recordings, and has been so active as to tour with Bill Frisell and Sylvie Courvoisier in the same month, Recently his instruments were featured in Teller’s (of the legendary magician duo, Penn & Teller) production of the The Tempest presented at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts in Las Vegas & the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA.
Born in Yardley, Pennsylvania USA 1959, Drew Gress became interested in jazz and the double bass while a teenager, joining the Pennsbury Concert Jazz Band, a nationally-prominent high school jazz ensemble, in 1975, spending two years as bassist and arranger for the group. His interest in composing original material for large ensembles, such as those of Johnny Richards, Billy May, and Pat Williams, led him to Baltimore’s Towson State University in 1977, where he studied composition and counterpoint with Hank Levy, known for his work with Don Ellis and Stan Kenton. While at Towson, Gress established a playing relationship with saxophonist Ellery Eskelin, with whom he co-founded Joint Venture with Paul Smoker and Phil Haynes. They released three albums on Enja Records between 1987 and 1994. During the 1980s in the Baltimore/Washington DC area, he played with Sonny Stitt, Clifford Jordan, Albert Dailey, Mose Allison, Zoot Sims, Cab Calloway, Buddy Hackett, Phyllis Diller, and pianist Marc Copland, with whom he still plays today. He also served on the faculties of the Peabody Conservatory, Towson State University, and the Baltimore School for the Arts. He formed a quartet, Tekke, in 1989 with David Kane, Glenn Cashman, and Michael Smith. In 1997, he co-founded the cooperative improvising trio Paraphrase with saxophonist/composer Tim Berne and drummer Tom Rainey. Together, they pursued a compositional approach to free improvisational practice. They recorded three live albums together and toured extensively. In 1998, he released his first album as leader, Heyday, with his band Jagged Sky (featuring David Binney, Ben Monder, and Kenny Wollesen). Since 1992, Gress has maintained an extensive touring schedule, traveling to Europe, Asia, and South America. Those with whom he has and continues to work include Tim Berne, Ravi Coltrane, Uri Caine, John Hollenbeck, Fred Hersch, Marc Copland, Don Byron, Steve Coleman, Dave Douglas, Jack DeJohnette, John Surman, Ray Anderson, Erik Friedlander, Kenny Werner, Bill Carrothers, Ralph Alessi, Tony Malaby, Steve Lehman, and Edsel Gomez. To date, he has appeared on over 140 recordings, 4 of which have received Grammy nominations. Gress’ own ensembles have toured Europe four times since 2002, in addition to isolated festival appearances in Italy and Portugal. In 2004, the UK’s BBC Radio and London’s Guardian selected his quartet’s live radio broadcast as Jazz Concert of the Year. .http://www.drewgress.com
Sylvie Courvoisier is a pianist, composer, and improviser. Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Courvoisier moved to New York in 1998 and has lived in Brooklyn since that time. Courvoisier has led multiple groups over the years and has recorded 8 albums as a band leader and 50 albums (25 as a co-leader and 25 as a side-person) for different labels, notably ECM, Tzadik and Intakt Records. She has been commissioned to write music for concerts, radio, dance, and theater. Since 1996, she has been touring widely with her own groups and as a side person in USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe. Courvoisier has performed and recorded with John Zorn, Mark Feldman, Yusef Lateef, Ikue Mori, Tony Oxley, Mary Halvorson, Ingrid Laubrock, Tim Berne, Joey Baron, Joëlle Léandre, Herb Robertson, Butch Morris, Evan Parker, Ellery Eskelin, Fred Frith, Nate Wooley, Tomazs Stanko, Susie Ibarra, Wadada Leo Smith and the flamenco dancer Israel Galvan among others. Since 1998 Courvoisier has performed regularly SOLO and in DUO with Mark Feldman. Currently, she is the leader of her own TRIO with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress. Courvoisier is a co-leader of the Miller’s Tale QUARTET with Evan Parker, Ikue Mori and Mark Feldman. Since 2000, she has been a member of Mephista, an improvising collective trio with Ikue Mori and Susie Ibarra. Courvoisier regularly performs in a number of John Zorn’s groups and compositional projects including Cobra and the Bagatelle Marathon. Since 2010, she has been working as a pianist and composer for flamenco dancer Israel Galvan’s project “LA CURVA” with more than 150 performances around the world. Galvan and Courvoisier are working on a new project called CAST-A-NET with Evan Parker, Mark Feldman and Ikue Mori which will debut in the summer of 2018. Her most recent albums include her trio D’AGALA on Intakt (2018) with Kenny Wollesen and Drew Gress; her duo with Mary Halvorson CROP CIRCLES on Relative Pitch Records (2017); MILLER’S TALE, a collective quartet with Mark Feldman, Ikue Mori, and Evan Parker on Intakt (2016); and SALT TASK a collective trio with Chris Corsano and Nate Wooley on Relative Pitch Records (2016).
* 2018 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artist:Music/Sound
* 2017 FOUNDATION SUISA’s Jazz Prize
* 2016 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works
* 2013 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Music and Sound
* 2010 Grand Prix de la Fondation Vaudoise de la Culture
* 1996 Prix des jeunes créateurs