Icepick is the super-power trio of some of the busiest musicians on this planet – American, Brooklyn-based trumpeter Nate Wooley, Norwegian, Austin-based bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and American, Upstate New York-based drummer Chris Corsano. «Hellraiser» is already the third album of this trio and was recorded live in February 2018, on the occasion of a gathering supporting the Option series at Experimental Sound Studios (ESS) in Chicago. Originally, this performance was slated for another Wooley-led group, and only last-minute travel issues led to the rare occasion where all three members of Icepick happened to be free for the date in Chicago. The ESS continues to host and facilitate online Quarantine Concert Series even in this coronavirus lockdown era, reminding all of us what we used to celebrate not so long ago.
The infrequent meetings of this trio do not affect the immediate flow of the music and the profound, telepathic interplay of Wooley, Håker Flaten & Corsano, all are masters of free-improvised format. The three collective, improvised pieces highlight their great experience and focus on structuring loose compositions through improvisation techniques, on account of powerful, wild eruptions but, still, with the fiery excitement of such a performance.
Håker Flaten & Corsano build mighty yet quite flexible rhythmic patterns on the opening piece «El-Bound», fueling the soaring flights and deep whispers of Wooley. Wooley sketches «Chicago Deader» as a moving ballad while Håker Flaten & Corsano color his singing melody with disturbing, restless colors, slowly building a massive pulse. The last and longest piece, the 17-minutes «Blueline» cements the reserved atmosphere of this performance.
The fractured rhythmic patterns of Håker Flaten & Corsano are the basis for Wooley’s intense employment of an array of extended breathing techniques, but soon enough all three musicians calibrate perfectly on their own dance. First in wild moves but later in more suggestive, poetic moves, repeating, again and again, the simple, melodic theme, all the way until the ecstatic coda, without raising hell, but still in perfect shape. - Eyal Hareuveni