Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Nir Felder: Putting Musical Storytelling Ahead of Chops

An archive that sings

Nir Felder

It’s 1995, you’re 13 and you’re saving allowance money for two weeks just to buy a guitar magazine,” says Nir Felder, sitting in the army green music studio of his Park Slope, Brooklyn, walkup. “You read all these names but you can’t actually hear the people, which makes you think, ‘What did Big Bill Broonzy sound like?’ So then you try to play something you’ve never heard before. It’s the same when you compose: You’re using your imagination to approximate an idea.”

The 30-year-old guitarist talks like he plays, stacking rhythmic phrases that have a way of whirling back to where they began. Felder’s recently released debut album, Golden Age (OKeh), moves in similar fashion. The first track opens with a sample of Bill Clinton saying, “Thank you very much”-a greeting or a farewell? Is this the beginning or the end? Sixty minutes later, like a clock, Golden Age closes full circle: The last chords reprise the first, this time with an overdub by Hillary Clinton (“There is one message…”) that swirls to crescendo until Adlai Stevenson tolls, “The American Dream has ended.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published