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SoundGround >> Guitar god Nels Cline


7/24/11 4:41 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 07/24/11 4:48 PM
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Okay, I'm back. Gotta keep this one going, even if it is just you & me. You never know if someone's lurking & are as affected by this stuff as we are.

I owe you a long email about that solo Frisell show. In one word - WOW. My wife walked in on me geeking out to that stunning version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". She said it was beautiful and sounded like rain. There's a lot of reasons why I love that woman, I just found another one thanks to you & Bill Frisell.

Man, that's a great version of "Watermelon in Easter Hay". Those Zappa Plays Zappa shows I posted about changed my life. I honestly never thought that 1st ZPZ should would change me like that.  Imagine being a casual Zappa fan with a decent ear for weird, progressive music, & then walking into Dweezil, his band, Terry Bozzio, Steve Via, & Napoleon Murphy Brock playing 3 + hours of some of Frank's best music.

Life changing... 
7/24/11 4:45 PM
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hugomma
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I'm sure you've seen this, & I've posted it numerous times, but it's always worth a listen. It's such an odd, beautiful musical moment from Frank Zappa.
7/24/11 8:20 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 07/24/11 8:26 PM
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Welcome back Hugo! Thanks for the Black Napkins... I don't know when I last saw that.[[Edit -- actually I don't know if I've ever seen that one. Thanks again!]] I played "Watermelon" for a friend recently, who didn't recognize it... asked... "Is that Sonny Sharrock???" And I felt all kinds of proud. No, but great call, and I didn't really make that connection, but it's obvious now. And I hipped the guy to both of those people!

I'm so glad to hear about your wife's reaction. Again, lots of people don't have patience for the "noise intro" stuff he does. But when they do... I see the guy build this storm and then slowly clouds dissipate and the simple melody is left. I enjoy watching people suddenly "get it" -- like NO WAY he's playing THIS tune! -- at varying stages of development.

That London show has long been one of my favorite things. Fortunately, through the DL series, he's put out another solo show; and there's the solo DVD, now. But for a very long time that London show was all the solo Frisell we had, save a song here or there and "In Line" -- his first record, which has some solo, some duo with Arild Andersen on bass. I'm nuts for the version of "Follow Your Heart" from London, too.
7/24/11 11:17 PM
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hugomma
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Glad you liked the "Black Napkins" on the Mike Douglas Show. I actually heard that version of it before I ever heard the one on "Zoot Allures".

As for "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall", what a beautiful mixture of jazz, folk, country, and Americana. The way he voices chords remind me of Aaron Copland.
7/24/11 11:21 PM
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hugomma
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Frisell plays Dylan Part 2.  Plus, more solo acoustic guitar.  The lick from 2:02 - 2:07 is just so soulful...
7/24/11 11:38 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 07/24/11 11:43 PM
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He does a studio version, with band, of "Just Like a Woman" on the same record as the Madonna tune, and the Sousa tune...

And, what you didn't know, he does a big chunk of Aaron Copland, "Billy the Kid". ! (and some stunning Charles Ives. OK, there's a Zappa connection, sort of, with the flattening of "high culture" and "pop culture" into his own thing).

I like this Just Like a Woman a lot -- different from the record. I love his acoustic touch. And good catch on that lick starting at 2:02 -- it's a real virtuosic move, the kind he never gets "credit" for among casual listeners. The slightly off timing between audio and video makes me slightly crazy. But it's easy to just listen and get over it.

You've got great ears, man. Really.

And... um... which is booze and which is pills?

I credit both of them with being psychedelics (!) But... oh, nm. That's a topic for less public consumption :-)
7/26/11 12:54 AM
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hugomma
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Edited: 07/26/11 1:22 AM
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Thanks for the compliment, but after seeing Soundgarden at Red Rocks last week, my ears may never be the same again - I forgot my damn earplugs, & it was the LOUDEST show I've ever been to. A week later, and they're STILL ringing.

As for booze & pills, man that's a tough one. Nels is probably closer to booze because his guitar sensibilities are more obvious (chops, fuzz tones, being a member of a big name band). His talent is in your face the same way a loud, obnoxious, smelly, drunk would be.

Frisell is closer to pills IMHO: more insidious & more subtle; it's often harder to see what's going on with a pill head, although something deadly lurks underneath.  Even that fat blowhard Rush Limbaugh was able to keep his pill addiction hidden till he got popped buying illegal prescription drugs.  Frisell'ss talent is easier to overlook because of all the nuances, similar to how a functioning pill head has an easier time hiding his addiction that a drunk.

Although on this one, Frisell sounds like Holdsworth OD'ing on Rush Limbaugh's cigar box stash.  I love the beautiful, subtle side of his playing, but damn, I wish this kind of stuff wasn't 15 years old or older.  I wish there were more recent recordings of THIS.

BTW, that mullett is DESTROYING the double bass. The way Frisell blends (and neck bends) chords with harmonics at 0:38-0:41 in is smooth & godlike, but insidious, overlooked genius that most people take for granted. The opening distorted bend 1:11 is a reoccurring motif that makes its way throughout various parts of the solo. Then the nice, quick run 1:26 in. Great stuff, hopefully he rediscovers this side of himself in the near future.  
7/26/11 9:52 AM
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Ali
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Edited: 07/26/11 9:59 AM
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You had to Limbaugh into some sentences, huh?

That clip is really fun, and really way too short! The mullet is Marc Johnson -- it's his band, Bass Desires. Which you probably knew. But that means Sco is lurking somewhere stage-left extreme. What make that all work is Erskine's bow-tie. So there.

Seriously Frisell still will do that on occasion, but yeah it's harder to find. Even before that... he was in Percy Jones' band (do you know Percy Jones? Sick fretless electric bass player, mostly known for Brand X). Called themselves Stone Tiger, where Frisell was all about generating enough electricity to fry eyebrows in the back row. They never recorded a record... but that was really one for the fusion-heads. There are bootlegs around in bad sound-quality, but enough that you know what was going on.

If you want to bring the noise, Frisell was also the guitarist in John Zorn's Naked City. (Which had Fred Frith on bass! I'm like... whoa, one of the great guitarists on bass... but that's what happens when you have the guitar chair filled with Colorado guy, I guess). Unfortunately lots of what you find on youtube is later Naked City, with Yamatuske Eye on vocals.

Here's a case where Zorn himself provides the Eye-like singing, but it might be up your alley for Frisell's uncontrolled flamethrower mood http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PynbhqRlsbc

No video here, but here's Naked City covering a great Ornette tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OhM89-8wBfY&feature=related

There's tons of that stuff... lots where Frisell is just doing his support-role thing. Some where he's doing Black-Sabbath-meets-avant-surf, etc. The point of that band, I suppose, was how many genres in how few seconds. For more direct avant-surf there's this thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gc-7BHjwW1o&feature=related
7/26/11 10:18 AM
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Ali
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Here's a graying Frisell... tune called "Blues for Los Angeles" if I'm not mistaken. Chewing up my sidewalks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oLCf60XNrQ&feature=related
7/26/11 1:30 PM
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hugomma
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 At work now, will check & comment later.  Thanks for the links Ali.
7/27/11 11:06 PM
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hugomma
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 LOL, my wife came in & told me to turn it the hell down.  I would've loved to have heard this with Mike Patton on vocals.  I'd love to hear something along those lines in the next couple of years.
7/27/11 11:17 PM
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hugomma
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 Ah-ha! 

I let my kid listen to the Mike Patton/Fantamos version of Al Green's "Simply Beautiful", & he loves Mike Patton.  He was laughing watching and listening to this.
7/27/11 11:19 PM
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hugomma
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 Not sure if you ever heard this, but if not, it's worth a listen.  Satanic & soulful all at once.
7/27/11 11:23 PM
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hugomma
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That sounded like the theme to an unmade detective flick. Lots of fun...
7/27/11 11:26 PM
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hugomma
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They must've had a blast making this kind of shit.  The screaming sax reminds me of early King Crimson.
7/27/11 11:44 PM
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hugomma
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Now that's more like it.  So he still does some of this stuff live, right?  I love when he plays over thick grooves like this.  It gives him space to fuck with space and get all Frisell-y.
7/27/11 11:49 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 07/27/11 11:54 PM
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I posted Naked City stuff mostly to point out some more aggressive Frisell, but obviously he's just one of five very aggressive dudes, so he's not overly "featured". I have mixed feelings about that stuff... it's a super-group, full of musicians I LOVE in various contexts. Most mixed feelings about Zorn, who has recorded five times as much as the other guys so I guess that's gonna happen.

In "Lonely Woman", the bit Frisell does at about :26 to :37 (though it starts earlier) kills me. Not spotlighted, but so damn powerful. If you can find a way to hear the original Ornette Coleman tune, give it a listen. That was early "free jazz" -- and you hear Frisell-as-Don Cherry, to Zorn's Ornette. It's really interesting.

I dig Fantomas -- I don't think I listened to the Al Green cover before! (On Disco Volante, there are a bunc of guests, including one Carla Kihlstedt on violin, who also came up earlier on this thread, for her association with Carla Bozulich and Nels Cline. THAT show I saw also had Jenny Scheinman on violin, who is a frequent member of Frisell's bands.... it's all one big circle!) Patton is an insanely good singer, but another one that I sometimes like and sometimes don't just for what he's doing. For Naked City in particular, I always preferred the instrumental stuff (without Zorn 'singing' or Eye or Patton). But that's just that band.

There are some great moments in that 'with Patton' vid. It's cool they go through a couple of tunes. I like the Poisonhead segment a whole bunch.

... and I think you just haven't had time yet, but when you get to it, check out the "Blues for Los Angeles" vid I pointed to earlier. That's getting more back to guitar-trio music. [EDIT -- I see you DID before I posted that last line! Cool]. Yes, he still does that live. And THAT tune was first on a later record, too. So he still does it on record. that was from "East/West". There are a couple of hairy-aggressive tracks on his CD Unspeakable, too, where... well, it's a strange and beautiful, often "big band" record... often with a take on "soul music", but it's highly Frizzed. I haven't sought anything out on youtube yet, maybe there's something there I'll find to point out.
7/27/11 11:56 PM
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Ali
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Edited: 07/28/11 12:20 AM
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Okay, here we go... from the cd Unspeakable, the tune "White Fang". He's a soul man. [Just like Mike Patton].

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KYE1MxXWFIg


And getting back to older stuff... did I recommend this already? I'm getting old. If not... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3nzloBmuPE&feature=related

That's got some annoying diginoise on it, but you hear through it when it happens. Ronald Shannon Jackson's band, Power Tools, doing a Frisell tune. Frisell on slide for part of it. I loved this band. Only one studio record, sadly, but it's very good. The live show I saw was so good it hurts.
7/28/11 5:15 PM
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hugomma
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Edited: 07/30/11 11:34 AM
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I really love this thread, it's the gift that keeps on giving. Every time I check there's some new, crazy shit to check out. I feel like I did when I was 19 and all those live Hendrix CD's were released.

Glad you liked the Fantomas. I think that version of "Simply Beautiful" shows Mike Patton at his best. I find his work to be hit or miss as well, but man when he's on he's something else. For me, him & Chris Cornell are the two best hard rock singers of my generation. For better or for worse, Patton has taken real musical chances with the choices he's made.

I'll check back on the Power Tools, but it may not be for a few days. Either way, look forward to it.

Thanks again, talk to you soon.

- Hugo 
7/30/11 11:27 AM
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hugomma
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Wow, ANOTHER side the Frisell. The percussion & feel reminds me of something Miles Davis would've done during the "On the Corner" sessions. I love that happy sound major lick he plays around with starting at 4:43.
7/30/11 11:36 AM
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hugomma
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Although the slide playing was cool, I love the outside lick he starts around 4:43.
7/30/11 11:36 AM
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hugomma
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Although the slide playing was cool, I love the outside lick he starts around 4:43.
7/31/11 1:15 AM
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Ali
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Clearly he's choosing 4:43 as his "Hugo" point!

I love on the Power Tools also at around 5:03 where he suggests the head melody barely and then just plays this fractured stuff around it for a bit before really returning there. He's always a jazz guy, no matter how rock or folk or blues or country the theme. I'm so glad you dig this stuff!
7/31/11 12:59 PM
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Ali
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Some of my favorite Frisell is with the Paul Motian trio (or expanded groups with that trio as core) -- Motian, Joe Lovano, Frisell.

I'm finding very little, and very little of the best of it, on youtube. This wouldn't even be my first choice of a tune from the album Trioism, which, while uneven, shows some of the more extremely mind-blowing group interplay, telepathy, improvisational skills of this band.

Still, it's a great tune, and if you turn it up loud, it's better. It has a typical (typically great) slightly ambiguous, emotionally, melody, or head. And all three of these guys solo, but all three of them also interject, move the melody or harmony or rhythm whenever they have a "better idea" and the other two are always ALL OVER it, instantly.

Frisell himself has that super crunchy tone you've admired most in some of the posts on this thread.

Anyway, there's a large catalog of this material you ought to know about (even more than the Naked City stuff, which I posted earlier for some reason). Again, just audio from the CD:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCKiqp-xODA

When this group convened, Frisell and Lovano were still very marginal as "solo artists". My favorite thing Pat Metheny ever did was decline to join Motian's band, but suggest Frisell for it.
8/1/11 3:12 AM
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Ali
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And I'll go at it again... with supreme dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas, and on bass Viktor Krauss (who is Alison Krauss' brother) -- so the more "Nashville" crew, he's still this good:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dixd6msKLjo&feature=related

I'm looking also to hip you to the Floratone project... but there's only this little promo documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7tiNDgk-zAs

VERY cool record, the Floratone record. Still, of this batch, the Motian rules.

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