Wilco Guitarist Nels Cline Reclaims Mood Music In The City Of Brotherly Love Nels Cline has earned his place as a guitar hero for our times, with a track record stretching back four decades and a marquee gig with Wilco.
YouTube

Jazz Night In America: Video Episodes And Shorts

Wilco Guitarist Nels Cline Reclaims Mood Music In The City Of Brotherly LoveWBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Wilco Guitarist Nels Cline Reclaims Mood Music In The City Of Brotherly Love

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/646736954/647463827" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Nels Cline has earned his place as a guitar hero for our times, with a track record stretching back four decades and a marquee gig with Wilco. But if you mainly associate him with squalls of feedback, you're missing a big part of the picture. "The Avant Romantic" is how Rolling Stone pegged him about a decade ago, in its list of Top 20 New Guitar Gods. And lately, Cline has been focusing his efforts, without pause or irony, on the romantic part of that equation.

Lovers, released on Blue Note in 2016, was Cline's fond reclamation of "mood music" albums from midcentury, with his guitar in an earnest melodic role. It's a suave collaboration with trumpeter Michael Leonhart, who wrote the orchestrations for a handful of versatile players like cellist Erik Friedlander and bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck. As Cline put it at the time in a conversation with NPR's Fresh Air, Lovers was a project he'd been dreaming about for more than 25 years.

Lovers (for Philadelphia) didn't require such a long gestation. Commissioned by the nonprofit Ars Nova Workshop, it was a sequel of sorts to Lovers intended to reflect a clear sense of place — the City of Brotherly Love, which of course has a great musical legacy not only as a jazz town but also an epicenter of soul. Cline made several trips to Philly for intensive research, visiting local institutions like the Curtis Institute of Music and the Germantown headquarters of the Sun Ra Arkestra. (He even helped create a Lovers saison at Tired Hands Brewing Company.)

The first and only performance of Lovers (for Philadelphia) took place at Union Transfer on June 2, and Jazz Night in America was there. See the video above for an up-close-and-personal view of the concert, and listen to our radio show for more insights on just how Cline and Leonhart made new tapestries of sound out of classic tunes like Benny Golson's "Whisper Not," McCoy Tyner's "Aisha," and The Delfonics' "La-La (Means I Love You)."

"I wanted it to be sweet but I didn't want it to be sugary," Cline says of the Lovers project at large. He strikes that balance on this love letter to a musical city — which has now enfolded Cline in a reciprocal embrace.

[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Ingrid Hertfelder/Courtesy of the artist

Michel Camilo On Piano Jazz

Hear Grammy-winning pianist, composer and bandleader Michel Camilo demonstrate his whirlwind approach to music, technical brilliance and post-bop Latin rhythms.

Michel Camilo On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/647914078/647930411" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Soprano Eileen Farrell Erich Auerbach/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Erich Auerbach/Getty Images

Eileen Farrell On Piano Jazz

On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1993, she shares her tremendous vocal range on "How High the Moon" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning."

Eileen Farrell On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/645639983/645646714" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Peter Symes/Redferns

Gene Harris On Piano Jazz

On this 1988 Piano Jazz episode, Harris opens with a slow and easy "Black and Blue," then McPartland joins him on "Bag's Groove."

Gene Harris On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/643301657/643308374" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Stefon Harris Elizabeth Leitzell/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Elizabeth Leitzell/Courtesy of the artist

Stefon Harris On Piano Jazz

Vibraphonist Stefon Harris is one of the most innovative and impressive artists in jazz, blazing new trails on vibraphone and marimba.

Stefon Harris On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/639381859/639391660" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jess Stacy is featured on this week's episode of Piano Jazz William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress hide caption

toggle caption William P. Gottlieb/Ira and Leonore S. Gershwin Fund Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress

Jess Stacy On Piano Jazz

As one of the leading pianists of the swing era, Stacy was best known for his work with the Benny Goodman Orchestra and had a prolific career before stepping back from the music world in the 1950's.

Jess Stacy On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/637110919/637149734" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Tony Bennett On Piano Jazz

The iconic vocalist makes an appearance on 'Piano Jazz' and shares his inspirations.

Tony Bennett On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/632750594/632767944" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Bassist Dave Holland and tabla player Zakir Hussain perform as part of Crosscurrents at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City. Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center hide caption

toggle caption Lawrence Sumulong/Jazz at Lincoln Center

Crosscurrents: Converging Jazz And Indian Classical Music

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Explore the influence of Indian music on the jazz and rock scenes of the '60s with tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain, prolific bassist Dave Holland and their international ensemble, Crosscurrents.

Back To Top