Sunday, January 5, 2014


Nels Cline
born in Los Angeles in 1956, began to play guitar at age 12 when his twin brother Alex took up the drums. They have recorded and performed together many times. Cline is known for his improvisational work and for the diversity of his musical projects. He has played with jazz musicians Charlie Haden, Gregg Bendian, Wadada Leo Smith, Tim Berne, Vinny Golia and the late bassist Eric Von Essen. Cline has also performed and recorded with punk rock hero Mike Watt, as well as with members of Sonic Youth, and country music legend Willie Nelson.

His most recent work as a leader is The Giant Pin, by The Nels Cline Singers, released in 2004 on Cryptogramophone Records. He continues to expand his audience as a member of the Grammy-winning rock band Wilco, which he joined in early 2004. He also leads the groups the Nels Cline Singers and Nels Cline Trio.

1. Which was the first record you bought with your own money?
I think it was a 7” single of “Rain on the Roof,” by the Lovin’ Spoonful, if you can believe that.

2. Which was the last record you bought with your own money?
Sonic Youth’s Goo — the deluxe edition.

3. What was the first solo you learned from a record — and can you still play it?
I honestly have no idea. Maybe something by Johnny Winter? Sorry. Maybe the Jim/Roger McGuinn solo on “Eight Miles High,” which I still can only approximate!

4. Which recording of your own (or as a sideman) are you most proud of, and why?
As a sideman, probably Mike Watt’s Contemplating the Engine Room. It was a really creative and conceptual record, brilliantly realized by Watt. And to help tell the story of the Minutemen — and play one of D. Boon’s old Telecasters on “Boilerman” — was an honor indeed.

Of my own recordings, I am really proud of Destroy All Nels Cline, in the sense that it was kind of created as something I would want to listen to from time to time, to really have a cathartic sonic annihilation experience. I do, and it does. But I’m pleased with The Giant Pin and The Inkling. In-Store with Thurston Moore and me is satisfying, as is Scarnella (with Carla Bozulich) — one of my favorite records that few have heard. Really great to listen to!

5. What's the difference between playing live and playing in a studio?
The studio experience is inherently completely different because of the lack of exchange/immediacy of a ‘live’ environment replete with audience. In the studio it’s always kind of like “acting as if” if you’re trying to capture performances — especially with improvised music. The studio situation also seems to drive certain people to amazing heights of anality and perfectionism. I’m not much of a believer in perfection. But the plasticity of the studio can be inspiring if you have enough time to mess around with sounds, instruments, approaches. I’m still pretty much a ‘live’ guy, though I love layered guitars!

6. What's the difference between a good gig and a bad gig?
I guess the good ones feel good to the combo as well as seeming to drive the audience wild with ecstasy. It’s pretty subjective. I try not to get too freaked out if a gig seems bad because someone out there always likes it, and it’s really theirs now, if you know what I mean. Breaking equipment or rude, unlistening audience members can make gigs seem pretty bad.

Wadada's Organic group is a completely different creature. It's a fully electric, four guitar, creative, bad-ass beast with slinky grooves, but the same hallmarks run through this set as well:
Wadada Leo Smith – trumpet, Nels Cline – guitar, Michael Gregory – guitar, Brandon Ross – guitar, Lamar Smith – guitar, Okkyung Lee – cello, John Lindberg – double bass, Skuli Sverrisson – electric bass, Pheeroan AkLaff – drums

7. What's the difference between a good guitar and a bad guitar?
The good ones don’t buzz or twang until you want them to. The switches and knobs work, and for me the good ones have strings behind the bridge for vital sounds. And I do prefer that a guitar play in tune.

8. You play electric and acoustic. Do you approach the two differently?
Well, you know I use a lot of effects pedals and such. So the electric for me is sonically only as limited as my imagination, and I can get hideous expressivity out of it. But I really like the limitation of playing acoustic, which I used to mostly do for a while — for example, in the 11 years I played in Quartet Music and in duet with Eric von Essen. Also with Charlie Haden way back when.

9. Do you sound more like yourself on acoustic or electric?
Well, probably on electric, since that’s what I am mostly developing. And that’s where all those wild sounds are.

10. Do you sound like yourself on other people's guitars?
God, I hope so.

11. Which living artist would you like to collaborate with?
Probably Paul Motian. Otomo Yoshihide also comes to mind. And I still want to do another Scarnella recording, with Carla Bozulich!

12. What dead artist  would you like to have collaborated with?
Booker Little comes to mind — besides the more obvious ones like John Coltrane and Miles Davis.

13. What's your latest project about?
I’m beginning to work out some arrangements/approaches for Andrew Hill’s music to feature my trio, the Nels Cline Singers (with Devin Hoff and Scott Amendola) along with Bobby Bradford (cornet), Andrea Parkins (accordion), and Ben Goldberg (clarinets). I want to do a tribute to a living artist for whom I have great admiration and who may be a bit underappreciated. So that’s the next big thing (for the Cryptogramophone label). Then there’s new Singers music, and a whole lot of collaborations with folks like Wally Shoup, Chris Corsano, Tom Rainey, Jon Brion, Jeff Gauthier, those Wilco guys, and the long-standing idea of doing a recording on which I play everything — a totally sonically obsessive catharsis.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014 - (Le) Poisson Rouge, New York, NY
As part of Winter Jazzfest. 8:00PM. Tickets.
w/ Bobby Previte on his Concerto for Percussion and Turntables (feat. members of So Percussion, John Medeski)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY
Nels Cline & Julian Lage (duo)
7:00 doors, 8:00pm show. Stage 3. Tickets.

Friday, January 10, 2014 - NYU Law Space, New York, NY
As part of Winter Jazzfest. Tickets.
w/ Ben Goldberg's Unfold Ordinary Mind (Ben Goldberg, Rob Sudduth, Ellery Eskelin, Ches Smith)

Saturday, January 11, 2014 - NYU Lounge, New York, NY
As part of Winter Jazzfest. 40 Washington Square South. 10:15PM
EYEBONE (Jim Black - drums; Teddy Klausner - keys; Nels Cline - guitar)

Saturday-Sunday, January 18-19, 2014 - Sub:Culture NYC, New York, NY
Alternative Guitar Festival
Saturday, January 18: 8:15pm & 10:45pm: Fred Frith and Nels Cline
Sunday, January 19: The Music of Paul Motian. Duos beginning at 8:00pm. Nels performs w/ Julian Lage.
Tickets: January 18 / January 19

February 2014: Tour with BB&C - Tim Berne, Jim Black & Nels Cline

14.02 - BIRMINGHAM, Great Britain
15.02 - LONDON, Great Britain - VORTEX Jazz Club
16.02 - DORTMUND, Germany - Domicil
18.02 - GENT, Belgium
19.02 - AARHUS, Denmark - Atlas at Voxhall
20.02 - COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Jazz House Copenhagen
21.02 - CORK, Ireland
22.02 - DUBLIN, Ireland
23.02 - ZÜRICH, Switzerland - Moods
24.02 - BOLZANO, Italy - Carambolage
25.02 - WELS, Austria club - Alter Schlachthof Wels
26.02 - SEVILLA, Spain
27.02 - SANTANDER, Spain
28.02 - GRANOLLERS (Barcelona), Spain


March-April 2014: Tour with Medeski Martin & Wood
27.03 - VAULX-en-VELIN, France
27.03 - VAULX-en-VELIN, France
28.03 - STAVANGER, Norway
29.03 - DORTMUND, Germany - Domicil
01.04 - CAEN, France
02.04 - EPINAY (Paris), France
03.04 - RÜSSELSHEIM, Germany - Theater Rüsselsheim
04.04 - ISTANBUL, Turkey - Babylon
05.04 - CULLY, Switzerland - Chapiteau
07.04 - LUGANO, Switzerland
11.04 - VOSS, Norway
12.04 - KRAKOW, Poland

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