Nels Cline Singers | SPACE | Jazz | Chicago Reader
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Nels Cline Singers

Nels Cline Singers

When: Tue., May 6, 7:30 p.m. 2014
Price: $18-$30
Guitarist Nels Cline titled the new album by this long-running group Macroscope (Mack Avenue), and more than anything Cline has released in his prolific career, it’s wide-angle music—he operates with the mind-set of a jazz musician while drawing on styles and sounds from all over the map. It’s the Nels Cline Singers’ first recording with vocals (wordless singing on “Respira,” which seems influenced by Milton Nascimento) as well as its first with new bassist Trevor Dunn, who replaces Devin Hoff—considering Dunn’s facility in jazz and adventurous rock (Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk), he was a perfect choice. The versatile Scott Amendola returns on drums, and the group’s dense sound bustles with polyrhythms and textural figures from guest musicians, including percussionists Cyro Baptista and Josh Jones, keyboardist Yuka Honda, and harpist Zeena Parkins. Cline’s extroverted guitar is unsurprisingly the primary voice: on the percolating ballad “Red Before Orange” he’s at his most soulful and lyric, and on the epic, episodic “The Wedding Band” he displays his predilection for 70s fusion, especially Weather Report. Amendola lays down a huge, driving beat behind the in-the-red hard-rock riffing of “Hairy Mother,” while Dunn blows out his tone with fuzz and Cline shreds for all he’s worth; on the album’s spazzy, tempo-shifting closing track, the guitarist finds a place past 100 percent, unleashing sheets of ungodly noise and chaos. Cline has always been a stylistic omnivore, so the band never seems dilettantish or labored in traversing its impressive range. Baptista joins the core trio for this rare Chicago show. —Peter Margasak


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