Nels Cline has led a double, even triple or quadruple musical life since his professional debut. As a rock soloist with Wilco, he also performs contemporary jazz, free improvisation, noise, avant-rock, avant-folk, electroacoustic, and contemporary music of European tradition. It would be a mistake to try to confine him to any one of those boxes. Cline is one of those visionaries evolving at the antipodes of any sectarianism. Fans of American rock recognise his singularity, fans of contemporary music follow his career with interest, practitioners of extreme eclecticism happily enter his universe. The Nels Cline Singers have already given some memorable concerts. Jazz is most probably their dominant idiom, but Share The Wealth includes several stops that have little to do with it. Like John Zorn’s projects such as Electric Masada and The Dreamers, this group embodies what jazz-fusion should have become long ago, before it was transformed into performance music, a forum reserved for virtuoso soloists whose playing too often unfolds at the expense of compositional vision. Luckily, new projects from the original jazz-fusion are emerging from amid the repetition and showboating. Cline is one of the key craftsmen of this trend, combining several traditions around a sort of jazz descending from the great electric sessions conducted in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Not only can we identify references to Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Josef Zawinul, Chick Corea, and John McLaughlin, but also to other compositional aesthetics. The Nels Cline Singers is a variable ensemble yet a well-oiled, quick-response machine. Surrounding Cline are saxophonist Skerik, keyboardist Brian Marsella, bassist Trevor Dunn, drummer Scott Amendola, and percussionist Cyro Baptista. No singers in the Nels Cline Singers! This work sits in the realm of human singing that human machines have extended since time immemorial.
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