18 Songs, 1 Hour, 30 Minutes

Mastered for iTunes
Mastered for iTunes

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5

16 Ratings

16 Ratings

A truly gorgeous album

Rob s., JD, MBA,

I acquired a physical copy of this album at last weekend's Newport Jazz Festival so have had about a week to listen and digest this music. And, during that time, I've noticed the more I've listened to the album, the more I was rewarded for doing so. This is a truly beautiful album which addresses love in its many facets, not just the romanticized version usually put forth by popular media. However, if you are looking for solely soothing soft tunes, this is probably not the album for you. If you are interested in creative expressions on the subject, you will enjoy this album.

In many ways, it feels as though this album is unsure whether it wants to be an out there avant garde album or a more inside orchestral album. Throughout the album there seems to be a constant pull between both directions, which beautiful freer music as a result.

Turning towards the avant garde aspects, one need look only at the album's personnel. Going in, one might expect this to be a really "out there" album. First, the group's lineup is, in large part, a who's who of modern avant garde music. To give you an idea, many of them are frequent John Zorn collaborators including Kenny Wollesen on vibes, Erik Friedlander on Cello and Zeena Parkins on harp. Others in the group, such as JD Parran, have established avant garde cred playing with other luminaries of that music like Anthony Braxton. Add to that Nels himself who is largely known for playing outside the box. But pulling in the other direction are the album's musicians less known for extensive avant garde works including Cline's collaborator Julian Lage on rhythm guitar.

Then you have the song selections. You would not originally notice how strange the music is by the three singles - Beautiful Love, Glad to be Unhappy, and I have Dreamed- put out by Blue Note all of which tend to be very "in." But once you start digging through the tracks, you realize what an unusual selection of songs are presented on this album. Not all of it, especially on the second CD (tracks 11 onward), reflects that sound at all. The album, viewed in the abstract, represents a strange selection of tunes ranging from old standards (e.g. Kern's "Why Was I Born?", Rogers and Hart's "Glad to be Unhappy") to covers of jazz tunes (e.g. "Cry, Want" by Jimmy Giuffre and "So Hard It Hurts/Touching" by Annette Peacock), to modern covers (e.g. Sonic Youth's "Snare Girl" and Arto Lindsay's "It Only Has to Happen Once") to originals (e.g. "The Bond" and "You Noticed"). It is truly all over the place. To add to it, there are some pieces from film soundtracks, which are strange in their own right. One, Mancini's "The Search for Cat" for whatever reason was deemed insignificant to include on the film Breakfast at Tiffany's original soundtrack. The other is a melding of music from The Night Porter, an Italian film about a sadomasochist stalker, with music from the French flim Max Mon Amour, about a woman who falls in love with a chimpanzee. The Night Porter/Max, Mon Amour is indeed quite different from tracks like "I Have Dreamed" as it is at times quite gloomy with the sound of chains being dragged, strings rubbed and hard drum brushes. So, in all, very weird selection of tunes with many of the more "out" tunes placed later on the album. Such a strange smattering of tunes theoretically should not work but here it works quite well, especially if you listen to the entirety of the album in one sitting. It's hard to single out a single track on this album, especially as varied as the album is, worth mention. However, "The Bond" is perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces in recent memory. Additionally I greatly appreciated the lap steel songs - I Have Dreamed and Why Was I Born?- which use the unique features of the instrument to be both beautiful and, at times, sad.

Ultimately I believe this shifting between the conventionally beautiful and "in" and the less conventional music and "out" is wholly intentional by Cline and (arranger and conductor) Michael Leonhart and intended to represent the constantly combined rationality and irrationality of love. Leonhart himself seems to add credence to this view when he noted in a recent Downbeat interview that the album is intended to represent "deviant love, twisted love, tortured love, unrequited love, fulfilled love, [and] timeless love." This album took Nels Cline at least 25 years to put into fruition but that time was well worth it. It is my favorite Cline album to date. He is far more laid back on most of the tracks than he is in most of his other works but it works incredibly well here. While I'm not sure how one can compare this to the rest of the Blue Note discography (it sounds quite different from most albums out there, let alone specifically Blue Note ones or the Rudy Van Gelder recordings in particular) I think it will become known as a modern classic.

Labour of love proves deeply rewarding


What a fabulous, eclectic set of standards, own compositions and esoterica selected and played by Nels Cline. 25 years in gestation this true labour of love has at last been released on Blue Note. This is a (loose) concept album, themed if one prefers. The playing order adds another layer of insight, but is in no way essential to enjoyment of these superbly arranged pieces. Familiar yet refreshingly contemporary, nuanced instrumentals that revive the out of fashion sense of "mood music" for lovers. Always optimistic, Cline's colour palette is generally bright, often lush yet at times darkly risqué and edgy. The playing, masterful. Strongly recommended and should prove a surprise for even long term fans of Cline's virtuosity and his association with Wilko. This labour of love was not in vain.

A masterpiece


Once in a blue moon an album like this one is made and it reminds us all of the simple beauty of music. The title perfectly reflects what the music is. It is music you want to share with someone. This album is up there with Sketches of Spain, Amoroso and Black Dahlia.

About Nels Cline

Up to the mid-2000s, guitarist Nels Cline was probably best known for his work in the group Quartet Music (with brother Alex Cline, bassist Eric Von Essen, and violinist Jeff Gauthier) as well as other projects in the jazz, rock, and avant-garde idioms, and for his general involvement in the West Coast's improvisation community. However, since 2004, Cline has been a member of Wilco, which has opened up a much larger audience for the guitarist than is typical for even the most well-known of avant jazzers and creative improvisers.

Born in Los Angeles in 1956, Cline began playing guitar around the age of 12, when his twin brother Alex began learning the drums. By the time Cline reached his twenties, he was heavily involved in L.A.'s improvisational community and, in 1978, appeared on his first recording, Openhearted by multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia. He went on to appear on over 70 releases, lead several of his own groups -- including the Nels Cline Trio and the sextet that followed, Destroy All Nels Cline -- and tour internationally with a variety of bands. As a composer, Cline has scored two films in addition to writing much of his own material. He has also produced albums for himself, G.E. Stinson, and Jeff Gauthier, among others.

Bassist Eric Von Essen and Cline met up in the late '70s and began working together, recording an album of duets called Elegies that was released in 1980 on the Nine Winds label. Von Essen got involved in an orchestra with violinist Gauthier, and it wasn't long before the three formed a group of their own. Alex Cline sat in on their first concert and eventually joined the three permanently, resulting in the group Quartet Music, which remained together throughout the '80s. In addition to his work in Quartet Music during this decade, Cline worked with Liberation Music Orchestra West Coast, was a member of a rock band called Bloc, worked with Julius Hemphill as well as Charlie Haden, and released his first album as leader, Angelica, which included members of Quartet Music, saxophonist Tim Berne, and more.

The first half of the '90s found his new Nels Cline Trio hosting a weekly improv series for four years and recording as many albums. During the '90s, Cline also worked with Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction), Mike Watt (Minutemen), and the Geraldine Fibbers. A duo recording by Cline and percussionist Gregg Bendian covering John Coltrane's Interstellar Space was released by the Atavistic label in 1999. That same year, the California Music Awards named Cline Outstanding Jazz Artist of 1999. The next year, he released Inkling on Cryptogramophone, beginning a collaborative relationship with Andrea Parkins that would continue for the next several years. Destroy All Nels Cline was next, followed by the formation of the Nels Cline Singers, who released their first album, Instrumentals, in 2002.

In 2004, Cline was asked to join Wilco and has toured and appeared on all subsequent albums by them. He still had time for other projects, however: there have been several one-off collaborations during the ensuing years and two albums by the trio of Cline, Andrea Parkins, and Tom Rainey. In 2004, the Nels Cline Singers released Giant Pin, which Cline followed with an album of Andrew Hill compositions in 2006, the sublime New Monastery. Cryptogramophone subsequently issued two more releases by the Nels Cline Singers, Draw Breath in the summer of 2007 and the two-CD package Initiate in 2010. Later in the year, Cline released Dirty Baby, a double-disc collaborative project with poet and producer David Breskin. Breskin selected 66 period images by the artist Ed Ruscha and evenly split them into two groups, wherein he commissioned the guitarist to compose one long work and one short one to accompany the images, without further instruction. Cline recorded these with a large group of musicians including Jon Brion, Scott Amendola, brother Alex Cline, and Devin Hoff. There is also a lushly illustrated book version with larger reproductions of these works with 66 written pieces by Breskin. Add this project to all the work Cline has done as a sideman since the turn of the century and you've got one extremely busy, prolific, and versatile guitarist. In April of 2014, he appeared as a guest on Joan Osborne's Love and Hate album, and as a full collaborator with Medeski, Martin & Wood on Woodstock Sessions 2. In 2014, Macroscope, with the Nels Cline Singers, and Room, a duet offering with classical guitarist Julian Lage, appeared on Detroit's Mack Avenue Records.

After recording Star Wars with Wilco and a tour, Cline signed to Blue Note. His debut for the label was the double-length Lovers. Realizing a long-held dream, the set was inspired by Bill Evans, Jim Hall, Gil Evans, and Henry Mancini. Cline created an ambitious, self-proclaimed "mood music" project with an 23-member ensemble conducted and arranged by Michael Leonhart. It was produced by David Breskin and recorded and mixed by Ron Saint Germain. Lovers contained jazz and Great American Songbook standards alongside originals and covers of songs by Annette Peacock, Gabor Szabo, Sonic Youth, Jimmy Giuffre, and Arto Lindsay. The single/video "Beautiful Love" was issued in early June of 2016. The album was premiered live at the Newport Jazz Festival in July, and released in August. ~ Joslyn Layne & Sean Westergaard

    Los Angeles, CA
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