Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
271

Alex Cline: Continuation

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count Views
Alex Cline: Continuation Twin brother of guitarist Nels Cline, percussionist Alex Cline has often been portrayed as the quieter half, with his introspective leanings serving as the delicate yin to Nels' assertive yang. Cross-cultural metaphors aside, Alex's discography is filled with allusions to his longstanding interest in Eastern spirituality.

Fittingly, Cline's albums often exude an air of introspective tranquility—an aesthetic focus that contrasts with his brother's more omnivorous approach. Less prolific than his sibling, Continuation is Cline's eighth album as a leader since the early eighties, and first since 2001's Constant Flame (Cryptogramophone). Joined by acquaintances old and new, Cline employs a stellar line-up of West Coast string players to interpret beautifully episodic compositions that seamlessly fuse intuitive improvisation with harmonically rich pre-written structures, while occasionally pushing into more assertive territory.

Cline's string-heavy quintet weaves a nuanced web of sound that erases the boundaries between Western neo-classicism and Eastern modality. Jeff Gauthier's searing violin solo on "Steadfast," the sonorous refrains of Peggy Lee's mellifluous cello on "Nourishing Our Roots," and Scott Walton's lyrical bass cadenza introduction to "Clearing Our Streams" embrace myriad traditions, conveying a range of emotion. Collectively, they reveal a tight-knit rapport, summoning brooding polyphonic tendrils on "SubMerge" and rapturous unison motifs on the blissful finale of "Clearing Our Streams."

Straddling an aesthetic divide between the lush sonority of the strings and the leader's percussive asides, keyboardist Myra Melford plays a multifaceted role. Her harmonium wheezes Asiatic drones in support of the strings, while her kinetic piano refrains provide an acerbic edginess—bolstering Cline's impressionistic ruminations. From the pneumatic clusters and thorny cascades of "Steadfast" and "On the Bones of the Homegoing Thunder," to the tender, romantic pageantry of "Nourishing Our Roots," Melford's resourcefulness is immeasurable.

More interested in orchestral color and shading than standard timekeeping, Cline elicits a kaleidoscopic array of tones from his augmented drum kit, ably supported by Walton's hearty pizzicato ostinatos and robust arco glissandos. The luxuriant "Nourishing Our Roots" features a shimmering veil of gongs, while the haunting "Fade to Green" unveils a stark series of spectral accents. Conversely, rousing trap set fusillades amplify the hard bop-inflected passages of "Steadfast" and "On the Bones of the Homegoing Thunder," welcome reminders of his percussive prowess as a sideman to vivacious band leaders like Gregg Bendian, Tim Berne, Vinny Golia and Julius Hemphill.

Populated by lengthy epics, the album unveils its secrets leisurely. Spacious and ethereal, brimming with opulent melodies, effervescent harmonies and bold polyphonic detours, Continuation is a magnificently balanced merger of composition and improvisation that reaches beyond cultural barriers, into a fourth world of its own design.


Track Listing: Nourishing Our Roots; Clearing Our Streams; Fade to Green; Steadfast; SubMerge; On the Bones of the Homegoing Thunder; Open Hands (Receive, Release).

Personnel: Alex Cline: percussion, kantele; Jeff Gauthier: violin; Peggy Lee: cello; Myra Melford: piano, harmonium; Scott Walton: bass.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Cryptogramophone | Style: Modern Jazz


Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
[no cover]
For People In Sorrow
ITM Records
2013
buy
Continuation
Continuation
Cryptogramophone
2009
buy
Cloud Plate
Cloud Plate
Cryptogramophone
2005
buy
[no cover]
The Other Shore
ITM Records
2000
buy
[no cover]
Right Of Violet
ITM Records
1996
buy
[no cover]
The Lamp And The Star
ITM Records
1989
buy
Alphonse Mouzon Alphonse Mouzon
multi-instrumentalist
Cecil Taylor Cecil Taylor
piano
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Evan Parker Evan Parker
sax, tenor
Fred Anderson Fred Anderson
saxophone
Billy Cobham Billy Cobham
drums

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.