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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Nels Cline Singers: Macroscope

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Macroscope is a first for guitarist Nels Cline's ironically named band, The Nels Cline Singers, in more ways than one. The group's four previous albums were released by the notoriously adventurous Cryptogramophone label, so it is somewhat surprising to see the amplified power trio's latest endeavor issued by the relatively mainstream Mack Avenue imprint. More importantly, it is the first recording to feature Trevor Dunn in place of original bassist Devin Hoff, and although it is a novel detail, The Singers do actually sing this time out--wordless vocalese on two compositions, but vocals nonetheless.Despite such changes, the date ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Medeski, Martin & Wood + Nels Cline: Woodstock Sessions, Vol. 2

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In retrospect, it was inevitable; why it took so long for veteran jazz jam band Medeski, Martin & Wood to get together with Nels Cline is anybody's guess. The über-guitarist has, since joining Wilco a decade ago, managed to significantly raise his visibility, but anybody who suggests that he's been “moonlighting" in the alt-country/alt-rock/alt-alt band to pay the rent hasn't been paying attention. Like keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin and bassist Chris Wood, Cline's career has been largely associated with jazz--well, before Wilco, that is; that's all changed now--through his lengthy association with Cryptogramophone Records and albums with his ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

The Nels Cline Singers: Macroscope

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With the release of this album by The Nels Cline Singers, Detroit's Mack Avenue Records takes a bold leap into the outer fringes of jazz. Their impressive slate of artists already included the likes of Kenny Garrett, Sean Jones and Christian McBride, who are open to pushing jazz boundaries, but the label had no one who goes as far afield as guitarist Cline. In fact, it's probably best to think of Cline, whether leading the Singers or any of his other projects, as approaching jazz rather than moving outward from it (Cline, himself, has said he is not a jazz ...

INTERVIEWS

Nels Cline: Finding Others

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Ask 10 people when they first heard of guitarist Nels Cline and you'll get 10 different answers. Maybe it was when he joined award-winning, arena-packing, ever-touring rock band Wilco. Or maybe it was stumbling upon a guitar internet forum where nerd boys and girls go over the minutiae of his expansive and varied effect pedals, amps, and guitars. Or it could have been hearing his critically acclaimed The Giant Pin (Cryptogramophone, 2004) with his group, the Nels Cline Singers (even though nobody sang). Or maybe it was hearing one of the 600+ recording credits that he has, with a diverse ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Tim Berne / Jim Black / Nels Cline: The Veil

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Recorded live at The Stone in New York City on a sweltering July evening in 2009, The Veil is the debut of BB&C (also known as The Sons of Champignon), an acronym for alto saxophonist Tim Berne, drummer Jim Black and guitarist Nels Cline--veteran improvisers with a long history of collaboration. Cline first recorded with Berne in the early '80s, while Black was a member of Berne's revered '90s era Bloodcount quartet. Unfolding as a single uninterrupted long-form improvisation and encore, the date's indexing points and song-titles were created after the fact for convenience. Despite having no predetermined agenda or ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Danny Frankel with Nels Cline & Larry Goldings: The Interplanetary Note/Beat Conference

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Enough is sometimes enough. Drummer/percussionist Danny Frankel presents a shortish (by modern CD standards), 34-minute collection of 11 compositions on The Interplanetary Note/Beat Conference. Then again, sometimes a sketch can speak louder than an entire painting.Frankel, a consummate player, has been a sideman to the likes of Laurie Anderson, Steven Bernstein, Lou Reed, Robin Holcomb, K.D. Lang, and Bebel Gilberto. Here, his musical vision is shared by guitar wizard Nels Cline, of Wilco fame, and Larry Goldings (Trio Beyond, James Taylor, Bill Stewart).The disc opens with its longest track “Droppin' Things," a bluesy funk vehicle for ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nels Cline: Dirty Baby

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Those not hearing Nels Cline's music lately just aren't listening. Besides gracing rock band Wilco's albums and live shows, he seems to be the hottest jazz/improv guitarist of late. Right on the heels of his two-disc Initiate (Cryptogramophone, 2010)--maybe the jazz record of the year--he drops another double set, Dirty Baby, which is part of an art book, published by Delmonico Books Prestel, that re-contextualizes 66 works by artist Ed Ruscha with music and spoken word. These two CDs have the music and smaller reproductions of the Ruscha work in a beautifully designed box.Cline was recruited for this ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Nels Cline Singers, Richard Crandell and Good For Cows at Johnny Brenda's

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Nels Cline Singers, Richard Crandell, and Good for Cows Ars Nova Workshop at Johnny Brenda's Philadelphia, PAJuly 7, 2010 For one of the closing concerts of the 2009-2010 season, Ars Nova Workshop brought the Nels Cline Singers to Fishtown's Johnny Brenda's. Cline has developed the reputation of being a guitar superhero, and the Singers are the purest manifestation of his work, so it was a rare treat to see the group in Philadelphia for one of the most exciting concerts of the summer. Openers Good for Cows are musicians with jazz ...

INTERVIEWS

Nels Cline: Of Singers and Sound

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Mimi Melnick's Salons feature some of Los Angeles' best improvising musicians in the most intimate of settings--her home, at the top of a hillside overlooking the San Fernando Valley. This afternoon's trio tunes, and tests sound levels. Bass wizard and longtime UCLA professor Roberto Miranda banters with veteran drummer Bert Karl, while the group's lanky guitarist, Nels Cline, studiously tunes a vintage Fender Jazz Master, and a fretless hollow-bodied 11-string that probably exists only in the arsenal of the versatile guitar slinger. Their two hours of exhaustive exploration slip by quickly, and the widely employed Cline rides off to his ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Nels Cline Singers: Initiate

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The release of the Nels Cline Singers 2-disc Initiate, a two hour-and-fifteen minute behemoth of sound, calls to mind a similar effort of 30 years ago, entitled Sandinista! (Epic, 1980) by the influential punk band turned prophets, The Clash. Like Mick Jones and Joe Strummer's 3-LP project, Cline's vision is too big to be encapsulated into a single genre or sound-byte blurb.

The guitarist Nels Cline, now famous as 'the sound' behind the rock band Wilco, was a jazz and improvisational noise semi-god before MTV stardom. Like this release, his three prior Nels Cline Singer Cryptogramophone discs Instrumentals. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Nels Cline Singers: Initiate

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Called “The World's Most Dangerous Guitarist" by Jazz Times and named one of twenty “Guitar Gods" by Rolling Stone, Nels Cline's profile has expanded considerably since his collaborations with underground personalities like Thurston Moore and Mike Watt and recruitment by Wilco in 2004. Cline's roots in the West Coast jazz scene pre-date his newfound mainstream recognition however, dating back to the mid-1970s.

Initiate is the fourth release from The Nels Cline Singers, Cline's versatile ten-year old power trio with bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Scott Amendola. A double disc set, it showcases two different sides of the Singers. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nels Cline / G.E.Stinson: Elevating Device

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It is entirely appropriate that Sounds Are Active's fiftieth release since its inception in 1999 should be Elevating Device by Nels Cline and G.E. Stinson , two of the freer spirits of contemporary music. This recording, like much of the music from this label, provides challenging listening with music of a spirit unrestrained by convention and devoid of cliché, leading to a totally individualistic listening experience. Here, beauty and austerity slug it out without either one forcing the other into submission.

For forty-four minutes Cline and Stinson sculpt in a single track sonic waves which rise and fall in intensity. ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Nels Cline: Acoustic Guitar Trio & Gauci/Cline/Filiano/Pride

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Acoustic Guitar Trio Vignes Long Song Records 2009 Stephen Gauci/Nels Cline/Ken Filiano/Mike Pride Red Feast Cadence Jazz Records 2009 Guitarist Nels Cline is so recognized as a force in contemporary music because he's not really a “force". In other words, his considerable technique, taste and penchant for cross-genre blurs don't always take the spotlight. Rather, he is a group musician in the truest sense of the phrase. Two recent recordings--one from the archives of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Nels Cline: Coward

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Few guitarists cover the sheer range of Nels Cline, moving between genres from folk and rock, as a member of Wilco, to free jazz, with Vinny Golia and Gregg Bendian among others, to his own highly eclectic projects that impinge on all of these categories. Coward is a solo record, in the sense that it's the work of a single musician, but it rarely sounds that way, Cline building up many of the pieces with layers of overdubs, combining guitars and effects pedals with sruti boxes, miscellaneous strings, synthesizers and a drum machine. Despite the level of ...



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