I came to Nels Cline via Wilco. I can remember quite distinctly seeing Wilco on the A Ghost Is Born tour in Chicago at the Auditorium Theater. It was the first time I’d see them with the “new” lineup that’s been the core of Wilco now for the past 16 or 17 years. I’d read about this new guy named Nels that had filled out the lead guitar spot, but I had no idea that he was far more than just some lead guitar player.
To say I was floored that night would be a disservice to just how blown my mind was. Nels Cline was this tall, lanky fellow sporting a beat up Jazzmaster and a plethora of noise-making boxes on the floor in front of him. He was adding textures and flurries of notes to songs like “Handshake Drugs”, “Via Chicago”, “At Least That’s What You Said”, “Wishful Thinking” and “Spiders(Kidsmoke)” and essentially re-inventing those songs on that Windy City stage. In my mind, as much as I absolutely loved A Ghost Is Born in album form(some days it’s my favorite), when that Wilco crew hit the road to support the record they brought a whole new life to those songs and Nels Cline was a huge part of that for me.
I became obsessed with Nels and his playing. Because of him I found my love for Jazzmasters and experimental music. I explored his various solo projects, as well as his jazz trio The Nels Cline Singers. His albums Coward and Dirty Baby are personal favorites, and his last release on Blue Note Currents, Constellations is in my mind a quiet masterpiece.
Nels Cline is a master composer, as well as a master guitarist.
In November Nels Cline will be releasing a new album with The Nels Cline Singers. Share The Wealth shows Nels back in full form with his original jazz trio crew, but this time with help from a bevy of musical talent that includes Scott Amendola on drums Skerik on saxophone, Trevor Dunn on bass,Brian Marsella on piano and Cryo Baptista on percussion.
First single “Beam/Spiral” is a gorgeous track that builds into a climactic sort of jazz raga. It puts me in mind of some of Coltrane’s most triumphant and far-reaching work, with of course Cline’s expertly crafted guitar lines.
Share The Wealth is out in November on Blue Note Records as a double LP. Check out the psychedelic video below directed by Yuka Honda. Preorder the album here.