NPR logo

Cymbidium

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/103128664/103122157" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Nels Cline: In The Avant-Garde Spotlight

Nels Cline: In The Avant-Garde Spotlight

Cymbidium

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/103128664/103122157" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Set List

The Beach Boys, "Surfin' USA," Surfin' USA

Jimi Hendrix, "Manic Depression," The Best of Jimi Hendrix

The Byrds, "Turn! Turn! Turn!," The Byrds' Greatest Hits

The Byrds, "Eight Miles High," The Byrds' Greatest Hits

Ravi Shankar, "Kafi-Holi," The Essential Ravi Shankar

John Coltrane, "Africa," Africa/Brass

Nels Cline, "Cymbidium" (Live)

Nels Cline, "Rod Poole's Gradual Ascent Into Heaven," Coward

With a career starting in the late seventies and over 100 albums under his belt, Nels Cline is one of the most influential guitarists and composers today. He aptly fits the title of "The Avant Romantic" that Rolling Stone gave him and proves it by expertly shifting from one genre to another, venturing into worlds of melodic improv and minimalism. His diverse recording background highlights work with Willie Nelson, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth and, most recently, indie heroes Wilco. In addition to the numerous collaborations with big-name artists, Cline works closely with smaller jazz ensembles and has released several solo albums.

Nels Cline. Courtesy of Artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Artist

While his past work focused more on acoustic guitar, he currently works with up to 15 effects pedals in order to hone in on a particularly distorted sound. His latest record, Coward travels through a range of styles from acoustic to electronic, improv, delicate abstractions and a bit of electro-funk.

In a session with host David Dye, Cline takes us on a tour of the music that made him want to play guitar: The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix and The Byrds.

This story was originally published on April 15, 2009.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.