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Album Review

Alex Cline's percussion armada of drums, cymbals, and little instruments has likely not been showcased as well as on Continuation, a set of free based, contemplative, and harmonically rich works made for his heroes, mentors, and recently deceased friends. Between what Cline is able to conjure from several different sonic aspects, his able bandmates give full account of themselves in their attempt to fully fashion his music in percussive and melodic means. The always exceptional individualist Myra Melford, though playing string-based or sounding instruments in the piano and harmonium, has a seemingly separate role, forcefully willing her way into advancing the compositions more rhythmically than Cline. Cellist Peggy Lee, violinist Jeff Gauthier, and bassist Scott Walton all have similar stances in bowing their instruments to soaring heights, but make a more melancholic music that speaks directly to the art of continuation, and how it manifests renewed life. What is most noticeable is the insular restlessness of the group in that they steer clear of clichés, straight time, or thematic motifs, moving on to the next-next phase with regularity. Exploring a full range of improvised sounds and specific ideas is more important than the tunefulness of each composition. This tone is set on the opener "Nourishing Our Roots" as Cline's unique technique on gongs aside Lee's free time cello establishes a lovely, low key meditative mood. Closer to terra firma, "Clearing Our Streams" swings and grooves after a deft solo by Walton and gliding harmonium plus violin lines, then the band goes into a harder edged jam. "Fade to Green" is an epilogue for Cline's deceased friend Dan Morris, a spare piece full of regret, moaning, and at times macabre remembrances with many clattering inserts by the percussionist. The best and most accessible track, "Steadfast," starts with a drum solo cued into Melford's cascading or forceful piano, then a 7/8 ostinato is established setting up tuneful melody refrains which supply the most jazz content within a modal context. Two eighteen-and-a-half minute tracks really stretch a listener's attention span, but are worth the time spent. "SubMerge" is dedicated to Japanese dancers Eiko & Kono, a very underground interpretive piece as Cline's arsenal of tiny sounds is fully utilized, while Melford's harmonium and bowed strings sing. "On the Bones of the Homegoing Thunder" is dedicated to Thomas Merton, featuring sour off-key notes busting out into Melford's driving hard bop, decomposed to nothing, then roaring with Cline's drum kit pounding and dancing figures. As to whether this is a logical end game or only the beginning of how Cline expands his vocabulary is sheer conjecture, but if it were deemed a magnum opus, it would result in a championship. Continuation is a fully realized artistic statement, highly recommended to those who are open to all aspects of future musical visions. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: January 4, 1956 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Drummer and percussionist Alex Cline has been active in West Coast jazz and new music scenes since the late '70s. Cline and his twin brother, guitarist Nels Cline, were born and raised in Los Angeles, where they began making music together at a fairly young age. Perhaps one of their most-recognized groups together is Quartet Music, an award-winning '80s band with violinist Jeff Gauthier and bassist Eric Von Essen. Although Quartet Music disbanded in the mid-'90s, Cline has continued to collaborate...
Full Bio
Continuation, Alex Cline
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, World
  • Released: Feb 10, 2009

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