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Buell Neidlinger: Digressive Greatness Declared

Buell Neidlinger

A conversation with veteran bassist Buell Neidlinger can be an adventure in nonlinearity, which shouldn’t be too surprising. “Oh yeah,” he says, “I can digress for days.”

It’s not only that the bassist possesses a refreshing candor and gives free vent to his opinions. It’s not only that he’s an encyclopedic sort, who has wended through many musical scenes in his 66 years and has a resulting objective overview-one laced with well-placed cynicism. There is also the sheer, bewildering diversity of his resume: what to make of a bassist who has worked with Cecil Taylor, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Gunther Schuller, Jimmy Giuffre, John Cage, Igor Stravinsky, Frank Zappa, Tony Bennett and on and on?

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