Nate Wooley and the RED Trio (pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro, bassist Hernâni Faustino and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini) first met in 2010, literally introducing themselves on stage. In the subsequent two years, their knowledge and mutual admiration have grown to the point that they have become a rugged unit able to touch all the cardinal points of improvisation tinted with jazz undertones. In the liners, Wooley compares the events taking place in an improvisational team as the mirroring of all the virtues and defects typifying the usual pros and cons of everyday’s conjoint living. The balanced eloquence of the action in Stem demonstrates that, when tempered intentness prevails upon the necessity of affirming self-pride, there is no problem whatsoever in creating music which is brilliantly questioning, ruled by dynamic reactiveness and perfectly set to resuscitate the intelligent connotations of modern jazz that too often tend to be forgotten in a whirlwind of chichi poses and unpurposed notes.
Though absolutely nothing sounds calculated, the five tracks show a degree of congruity that, in some instances, might induce someone to define the interplay as “cold”. But we all know that in many occasions sternness is just a facade hiding a heart that, when the right moment comes, beats rather impetuously. Listen to how “Phase” starts from a quietly mounting exchange featuring Ferrandini and Faustino, then gradually escalates to a wholehearted collective flare-up whose effects are in any case kept under control by the quartet’s inherent efficiency, never allowing elements of mayhem to predominate in spite of Wooley’s shrieking tantrums and Pinheiro’s emphatic punctuations and flurries. The piece offers the vision of a natural course characterized by the need, by each participant, of remaining an active part of a lively wholeness, without the egotistic traits frequently associated to the excesses of fraudulent fervency.
If we want to consider aesthetics, there’s no room for unbelievers: the overall vibe is entangling, tactile, but not overwhelming. Again, impartiality seems to win over sanguine volubility. Yet in “Ellipse” the fire of freedom burns blazingly even when everything calms town to EAI-like volumes (there’s a section in which the connection of inside piano and near-ephemeral trumpet is comparable to a dialogue between a slack-string guitar and a muted fax machine). The systematic nonattendance of an orthodox pulse reminds us that we’re dealing with artists who, hopefully, are not going to fall victims of dubious “revolutions” bathed in bundles of banknotes and establishment-regulated festivals.