We're not dead yet, and Nels Cline proves it. Cline, lead-guitarist extraordinaire for the mighty Wilco, frontman of the Nels Cline Singers, and sideman to more jazz-based side projects than he himself can count, kept a pace over the past year that can only inspire.
In late September of 2006, Cline dropped New Monastery: A View into the Music of Andrew Hill. Featuring contributions from longtime partner in crime, drummer Scott Amendola, as well as Alex Cline, Bobby Bradford, Ben Goldberg, Andrea Parkins, and Devin Hoff, Cline reinterpreted the long-underappreciated work of the jazz composer Hill. Fierce, odd, uncompromising, the album features some of Nels' most inspiring guitar work to date, as his trademark mid-range, beaten-up Jazzmaster tone battles it out with accordion, clarinet, drums, upright bass, and trumpet for over 73 stellar minutes.
"I'm proud of that one," Cline says, finishing off an early afternoon bowl of cereal. "It was a fun session." Cline also prepped a new LP of Nels Cline Singers material, completed a well-received East Coast tour backing Amendola—which saw Cline dueling nightly with Tortoise's Jeff Parker—and began and finished tracking the upcoming Wilco LP, Sky Blue Sky (May 15).
And he ate a lot of cereal.
"Love it," Cline says. "Maybe it's sad, but this is all I eat." It's not sad, Nels. Cereal's rad. "Good to hear!" Cline says. When the finest guitarist on these tragic shores hits the Fir with fellow Wilco bandmate and so-good-he-makes-you-want-to-quit drummer Glenn Kotche, Cline says to expect beautiful weirdness. "Glenn's been talking about doing a collaborative piece at the end of our sets," Cline says. "But I haven't heard it yet. Maybe I'll learn it at sound check. Maybe not."
That's so Nels. As for Wilco? "The new LP was a blast," Cline says. "We're like a brotherhood right now. It's very ideal."