Jazzfest Berlin – Johannesburg
Shane Cooper and the Dinaledi Chamber Ensemble // Nate Wooley: “Columbia Icefield”
EJN-Award for Adventurous Programming
Nate Wooley uses “Columbia Icefield” to put his own distinctive spin on ambient music, with disruptive details that generate an exquisite tension marked by harmonic dissonance and atmospheric turbulence. Bassist and composer Shane Cooper, a ubiquitous figure in Johannesburg’s creative music scene over the last decade, debuts this brand-new project at Jazzfest Berlin 2021.
Live stream from Johannesburg / ca. 30 min
Shane Cooper and the Dinaledi Chamber Ensemble
Bassist, bandleader, and producer Shane Cooper has been a vital presence on the Johannesburg scene for the last decade, creatively colliding different traditions with a post-modern sensibility that uses electronics as a binding element. The driving rhythms of funk and rock fuel the high-energy sound of his group Mabuta, which reveals the influence of the British new jazz scene on his conception. The group’s hard-hitting 2018 album “Welcome to This World” features the indelible playing of saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings on several tracks. More recently, Cooper has worn his producer hat with his Happenstance project, collecting diverse line-ups of South African musicians – sometimes grouped by instrumental focus – to submit their group improvisations to his post-production scalpel, with intoxicating results, both hypnotic and explosive. For this Jazzfest Berlin commission, Cooper performs shape-shifting works with the Dinaledi Chamber Ensemble – which includes Mabuta pianist Bokani Dyer and guitarist Reza Khota, in addition to folklorist Cara Stacey – blending post-bop frameworks with looped elements and dynamic live dance, assembled like a 3-D piece of musique concrète.
Shane Cooper double bass, electric bass, synths, loops
Bokani Dyer piano
Cara Stacey vocals, bowstrings, traditional Southern African instruments
Linda Sikhakhane saxophone
Reza Khota guitar
Lulu Mlangeni dancer
Commissioned by Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin in cooperation with Jess White
This concert is part of Jazzfest Berlin – Johannesburg
10th EJN-Award for Adventurous Programming
Award ceremony of the Europe Jazz Network to the Jazzfest Berlin
Live concert in Berlin / ca. 50 min
Nate Wooley: “Columbia Icefield”
Trumpeter and inveterate sonic explorer Nate Wooley consistently employs his different projects to investigate specific terrain, and the surface of this coolly simmering quartet seems concerned with a kind of turbulent ambience. As heard on the band’s sublime 2019 debut album, guitarist Mary Halvorson and pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn weave a knotty fabric with profound restraint, building tension from relatively serene blocks of sound larded with barbed accents, acrid harmony, and woozy drift, as drummer Ryan Sawyer stokes the flames with a zigzagging blend of propulsion and stick-in-the-spokes disruption. While some observers have noted an ECM-like sense of atmosphere, Wooley routinely goes against the meditative grain with surprising melodic twists and contemplative improvisations that eschew new age calm. Abraded by judicious amplification and reverb, Wooley’s lines alternate between moody lyricism and slashing violence, melding with the measured churn of his bandmates as much as he flails against it. The music ripples with an emotional complexity that makes room for both introspection and extroversion, conveying a multivalent depth that powerfully mirrors life’s journey. For the Berlin debut of the quartet the wildly imaginative guitarist Ava Mendoza fills in for Halvorson.
Nate Wooley trumpet
Ava Mendoza guitar
Susan Alcorn pedal steel guitar
Ryan Sawyer drums