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Nels and Alex Cline: 50 Years in the Making

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On their sixty-second birthday, Nels Cline and Alex Cline realized they had been playing music together for fifty years. Since their very youngest days playing music, finding inspiration in The Byrds and King Crimson and exploring jazz and experimental music most of their peers wouldn't bat an eye at, the twins have developed recordings and performed at countless shows that highlight their venture into adventurous music-making. While the brothers now reside on opposite coasts--Alex in jny: Los Angeles, still close ...


Jerome Wilson's Best Releases of 2016

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Any “best of the year" list is really a snapshot in time. It's impossible to listen to all the worthwhile jazz music out there so you end up making a list based on what you've heard during the year. With apologies to Kris Davis, John Scofield, Darcy James Argue and all the other musicians whose CDs I haven't heard yet, here is my current Best Of for 2016. Nels Cline Lovers Blue Note Records


Nels Cline: Lovers

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No one can accuse guitarist Nels Cline of being predictable. He has recorded with his avant-garde trio the Nels Cline Singers most consistently (with bassist Devin Hoff and drummer Scott Amendola), but also led larger groups, such as the one on New Monastery (Cryptogramophone, 2006). More recently there was his duet with guitarist Julian Lage on Room (Mack Avenue, 2014), not to mention his membership in the rock group Wilco since 2004. His Blue Note debut Lovers is a unique ...


Nels Cline: Lovers

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When I first heard excerpts from Nels Cline's Lovers project, I wasn't too impressed. I thought it sounded like some kind of archaic “mood music" album. Then as I heard more about the set, including the songs being performed and the personnel performing them, I became intrigued. Now I've heard the entire thing and understand what a monumental work it is. Cline has created a kaleidoscopic orchestral tribute to all the facets and emotions of love that is ...


Nels Cline: Lovers

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The power of Nels Cline's Lovers does not stem from his guitar mastery. It flows from the solidity of its finely orchestrated vision. Rendered over 18 pieces and marking the fulfillment of a 25-year endeavor, the album explores the contours of intimacy through a series of compositions ranging from ambient abstraction, to blues, to jazz ballads, to excruciatingly taut hybrids that fold this diversity together in layers of elegance. Never marred by the indulgences or lack of focus ...


Thollem McDonas / Michael Wimberly / Nels Cline: Radical Empathy

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Radical Empathy is the second in a series of three musical encounters between keyboardist and musical instigator Thollem McDonas and multi-disciplinary guitar whiz Nels Cline. The first collaboration, titled simply The Gowanus Session (Porter Records, 2008), featured bassist William Parker and was notable for its resolute resistance to free jazz cliché. Uncannily, it found Cline, McDonas, and Parker, with virtually no advance preparation, on very much the same page. Instead of the expected improvisational pyrotechnics (though, with three virtuosos in ...


Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville 2015, Part 2

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Festival International de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville Victoriaville, Quebec, Canada May 16-17, 2015 Part 1 | Part 2 The site of the Pavilion Arthabaska, a chalet on a hill above the town, is a popular spot in Victoriaville (think lookout and make out), not a place that is obvious for avant-garde music, but the room featured some of the best shows of the festival. The sound in the room was impeccable, perfect for ...


Nels Cline and Julian Lage: Room

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Serious fans of guitar may have heard of both Nels Cline and Julian Lage, but many listeners more likely know only one or the other of these guitar giants. The two innovators have very different styles and sounds. Cline is known primarily for his work with Wilco and The Nels Cline Singers, where his compositions function as experimental explorations and push boundaries in many ways; even more so his solo improvisations, which heavily incorporate electronic sounds and unconventional uses of ...


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 ...


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 ...