[JPL] Nels Cline: “New Monastery: A View into the Music of Andrew Hill”

r durfee rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 18 17:41:23 EDT 2006

“New Monastery: A View into the Music of Andrew Hill”

The compositions of Andrew Hill, one of the best
composers in the last 50 years of jazz, don’t glow
with the recognizable style of a certain time. They
use unusual harmonies and can sometimes seem to be
missing the proper signposts. Nobody performs them as
effectively as his own groups, with Mr. Hill on piano.
Not even close. 

But the guitarist Nels Cline has taken up the
challenge; “New Monastery” is a learned and original
try. Mr. Cline, who has become more widely known since
joining the rock band Wilco two years ago, has a long
background in West Coast jazz and experimental music. 

He is a fast, articulate player, and no slouch on
soloing through chord changes, as his version of Mr.
Hill’s “Reconciliation” proves. He dislodges the
melodies from these pieces, bringing them forward with
the clarinetist Ben Goldberg, the cornetist Bobby
Bradford and the accordionist Andrea Parkins. Mr.
Hill’s music can be soft and mumbly, but Mr. Cline
forces immediacy on it, and frequently leaps beyond a
standard jazz guitarist’s tone. He distorts his
instrument for stabbing, notated chords during someone
else’s solo; he broadens his tone, putting little rips
in it, sounding like Mr. Bradford; he plays a line
through a digital processor and repeats it, moving the
pitch up and down or making it warp and shimmer. 

Instead of a pianist the group uses Ms. Parkins on
accordion, improvising with fractured aggression. Most
of these pieces come from Mr. Hill’s mid-1960’s
records on Blue Note. With the exception of Mr.
Bradford, who was playing semi-free jazz like this in
the early 60’s, and the occasional Eric Dolphy echo
from Mr. Goldberg’s bass clarinet, the band doesn’t
evoke the old records. Mr. Cline can be a fiddly,
punctilious musician, even when building clouds of
noise in a free improvisation, or when soloing in
blues form on “The Rumproller”; it’s helps him remake
the music in his own way.



Roy Durfee
P.O. Box 40219
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87196-0219
rdurfee2003 at yahoo.com

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