Nate Wooley collaborates with Mary Halvorson, Susan Alcorn, and Ryan Sawyer on new album Columbia Icefield

Arrogance is inevitable when you exhibit a capacity for critical thinking unrivaled by every other species in the history of the Earth, and that’s why it’s super important that humans occasionally eat a dose of humble pie destined to leave an enlightening mark on one’s digestive system. Simply thinking or reading about the Universe might be enough for some people to realize their minuscule place in context; but for wilderness fans like the rabidly talented trumpeter Nate Wooley, it’s something different to appreciate your place in nature through direct experience.

Wooley grew up in the decidedly rural town of Clatskanie, Oregon, but the principal inspiration for his new album was something contrastingly severe from an observational standpoint: the Columbia Icefield in Canada’s portion of the Rocky Mountains. We’re talking roughly 125 square miles of interconnected glaciers, folks! That sequence of ice blocks is all, “Oh yeah, humans. They’re alright.”

Wooley then recruited some of his fellow “alright” humans to help convey this sense of…ya know: grand natural things existing in relation. Those humans include jazz guitarist, Mary Halvorson, Susan Alcorn on pedal steel, and Ryan Sawyer on drums. Each of those musicians has something of a background in improvisation, and their collaboration appears to do a fine job of exploring on-the-fly how an average person might feel in the presence of ancient and humbling natural wonders.

You MAY or MAY NOT be stretching the genre’s definition if you call Columbia Icefield a “jazz” album? But listen to the track “Lionel Thrilling” below to decide for yourself — and pre-order the album ahead of its February 22 release right here.


Columbia Icefield tracklisting:

01. Lionel Trilling
02. Seven In The Woods
03. With Condolences

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