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Radical Empathy Trio: Reality and Other Imaginary Places (ESP-Disk’)

The pianist Thollem may go by a single name, but his improvisational and compositional wizardry has many dimensions. A sort of freewheeling cross between Cecil Taylor, comedian Andy Kaufman, minimalist pioneer Pauline Oliveros, and punk icons the Minutemen, he’s extended his creative reach into myriad styles from avant-garde jazz and classical to blues and rock. … Read More “Radical Empathy Trio: Reality and Other Imaginary Places (ESP-Disk’)”

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Larry Ochs/Nels Cline/Gerald Cleaver: What Is to Be Done (Clean Feed)

Is there a place for metal bloodletting in your free jazz stew? Nels Cline thinks so. He, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and saxophonist Larry Ochs fall flat on their backs and bark screaming mad in tribute to what sounds like Mastodon impaled on Sunn O)))’s altar of slow-motion disaster. It’s about crunch, calamity, and release—then you … Read More “Larry Ochs/Nels Cline/Gerald Cleaver: What Is to Be Done (Clean Feed)”

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The Nels Cline 4: Currents, Constellations (Blue Note)

Guitarist Nels Cline has always been a sucker for music that’s a bit mystifying—not easily described, transcribed or summarized. So no one should be shocked if he’s particularly pleased with Currents, Constellations, an audaciously charted collaboration with guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Tom Rainey. Perhaps “charted” is too strong a word, since … Read More “The Nels Cline 4: Currents, Constellations (Blue Note)”

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Live Review: Big Ears 2018

You know you’re at the Big Ears Festival when Nathan Bowles, banjo and bones player for the old-time string band the Black Twig Pickers, enthusiastically shouts out Milford Graves, the sage of avant-garde jazz percussion. “I got my wig flipped!” Bowles said of Graves’ solo set, which took place on the same stage just hours … Read More “Live Review: Big Ears 2018”

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Nels Cline & Julian Lage: Room

This meeting of the guitar minds might sound like an improbable pairing: the 58-year-old Wilco guitarist known for his punkish avant-garde flights of fancy joining forces with the 26-year-old melodicist best known for his mastery of mainstream jazz guitar and his winning detours into bluegrass. Check your skepticism at the door. Nels Cline and Julian … Read More “Nels Cline & Julian Lage: Room”

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The Nels Cline Singers: Initiate

It’s easy to focus on Nels Cline’s jack-of-all-trades work ethic, but what really makes the guitarist so significant is the consistency he brings to all these projects: a singular voice that occasionally goes heavy on the effects pedals, but uses them to create an astounding sonic vocabulary whether he’s playing straight rock music, jazz or, … Read More “The Nels Cline Singers: Initiate”

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