Wooley Thinking

"Lately, though, I've actually been writing some tunes, with a lot of influence from the way Tim Berne writes," he goes on. "Maybe there's ten bars of written music, but with the improvisation, you have a twenty-minute piece. We've also been doing some standards--playing the first phrase, and then it's a free thing until we get to one certain phrase, and then it's a free thing again until the last phrase. And it's our job to create something cogent out of that so that one, people will know that it's a standard, and two, that we've created something new that is a personal thing."

Taking jazz to new places is one of Wooley's goals. "Jazz doesn't make much sense in this time, in the way that it is often played--a head-solo-head thing, just like it was forty years ago. I don't think that applies to this generation of people. I think people think on a more advanced, abstract level than that.

"Of course, I think the tradition is important," he adds. "You have to know the tradition to really be able to play with the spirit. But you don't have to take it verbatim. I think we have to incorporate all our influences. Because the music world isn't as clear-cut as it used to be, you might as well play what you want. That's what's going to be original. I mean, people have heard it all. Jazz has gone just about as far as it can, I think, until someone comes along to change it. Maybe someone like Ron, who will knock it on its ear. But their music is going to be a combination of other things."

At first Denver seems an unlikely location from which to launch such a revolution. But Wooley is so sold on the city that he's trying to persuade Warren and Dogget to put down roots here, too. "I decided that I didn't need to go to a big New York school for my master's if I could be where Ron was," he remarks. "I mean, I really just want to get as much out of him as I can. I don't want to play exactly like him, and I don't think I ever could. But there's something about him and his music that is terribly inspirational, you know?

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