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«Strandwal» is the sophomore album of the supergroup From Wolves to Whales – American sax player Dave Rempis, trumpeter Nate Wooley and drummer Chris Corsano and French-German double bass player Pascal Niggenkemper, all are distinct and highly experienced improvisers, composers and bandleaders in their own right. The double-album documents an entire live concert during the quartet’s Fall 2017 European Tour, recorded in November 14 in De Pletterij, Haarlem, Netherlands.

From Wolves to Whales insists on raising a celebratory middle finger to those who might try to pigeon-hole these fearless improvisers into a particular box. The quartet has a strong identity and its own sound and it moves freely and organically between powerful free jazz to abstract free improvisation with impressive senses of imagination and drama. From Wolves to Whales knows how to channel its unstoppable, urgent energy and fly higher and higher but also to dig deeper into fascinating timbral spaces, while flirting with some starkly beautiful melodies.

The natural tension between the different aesthetics and approaches to improvisation is always harnessed to the benefit of the music. The four extended pieces leave enough space for personal articulation and experimentation, never following a clear and obvious narrative but have a great focus to detail and sometimes even vulnerable, emotional lyricism. Rempis and Corsano enjoy a burning, raging duet, soon to be morphed into a searching and intimate one between Wooley and Corsano and later a fascinating, enigmatic collective improvisation, all on «Hook and Cod». The short «IJ» suggest a quieter, contemplative atmosphere but also playful, ironic veins. «Spaarne» begins with sparse, searching experiments with extended breathing and bowing techniques but quickly gravitates towards an open and rhythmic free jazz improvisation led by Rempis and Corsano. Later, the bowing solo of Niggenkemper introduces another perspective of ecstatic free jazz improvisation. The last «For Kenau» is charged with playful games and humor but concludes with moving, compassionate statements. All highlight the telepathic dynamics of From Wolves to Whales, wherever this quartet chooses to roam, deep in invigorating, colorful forests or even deepen in an enigmatic, quiet seas.

Eyal Hareuveni

Nate Wooley (tp), Dave Rempis (as, ts), Pascal Niggenkemper (b), Chris Corsano (dr)

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