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This is a great new band, and a pointed demonstration of Cline’s composing and playing.
—All About Jazz
Whether digging into glam pop songs, avant-jazz routines with punk attitude, or sophisticated garage-rock episodes, impetuous guitarist Nels Cline, a creative powerhouse in small-group settings, always sounds unique and fetching.
Known as the lead guitarist of Wilco since 2004, and one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists,” Nels Cline is coming off the success of his 2016 Blue Note debut Lovers, a “quietly ravishing double-album” (New York Times) featuring Cline with a large ensemble conducted and arranged by Michael Leonhart that was “wildly inventive in its watercolored way” (Rolling Stone). On Currents, Constellations, Cline embraces a sparser but edgier instrumentation, which serves the adventurous thrust of the music, brimming as it does with raw energy and wild beauty.
Of all the rich and varied projects guitarist Cline has pursued since his emergence as a leader in the late 1980s, his two-guitar duo with Julian Lage, documented on the 2014 album Room, ranks among the most special. “When Julian and I started playing together it kicked my ass hard,” Cline told JazzTimes around the time of Room’s release. “At the same time it inspired me and refreshed my soul.” Lage, for his part, declared he had “found his people” playing with Cline: “At last I found a scenario where . . . you could be free and adventurous, you could utilize sound and be extremely melodic and evocative.”
The duo is still ongoing, but it is morphing and expanding. With Currents, Constellations, Cline’s second Blue Note release, we hear the debut of The Nels Cline 4, made up of Cline and Lage plus the fierce and versatile rhythm section of bassist Scott Colley and drummer Tom Rainey. All of the music is Cline’s, save for a haunting and rare Carla Bley gem from the Jimmy Giuffre 3 songbook.