Release Date: Oct 12, 2010
Record label: Cryptogramophone
Genre(s): Jazz, Avant-Garde, Pop/Rock, Jazz Instrument, Guitar Jazz, Modern Composition, Vocal Jazz, Avant-Garde Jazz, Conceptual Art, Structured Improvisation
Not long ago, avant-garde music was supported mostly by academia and arts endowments. Now rock & roll has gotten into the act too. When Jeff Tweedy signed up Nels Cline to be Wilco's lead guitarist, Cline had been making balls-out, free-form jazz records. Happily, he still is, as vigorously as ever ….
It is easy to see why guitarist Nels Cline calls DIRTY BABY the most challenging work of his career. Called upon by producer and poet David Breskin to compose separate works to accompany two collections of Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha's "censor strip" images from the '80s and '90s, he responded with relish--33 are from the Silhouette series and 33 from the Cityscapes paintings. All 66 are included in a handsome, double-disc package containing three booklets, one of which contains a detailed liner essay by Cline regarding his approach, preparation, and aesthetic.
Nels Cline’s liner notes to Dirty Baby do such a good job of providing context that I’m fighting temptation to basically retype them. But here’s the short of it: poet/arts philanthropist David Breskin appointed guitar madman Cline to compose music accompanying a series of works by Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha. Cryptogramophone thrusts the whole package at you in a study cardboard box with two booklets containing 66 images as well as photos of the recording session.
This summer's Initiate album by improv-electronica group the Nels Cline Singers (there are no singers) spliced a freewheeling live show with a Miles-meets-Thurston Moore studio set produced by regular associate David Breskin, furnishing subtle backdrops for Cline's resourceful guitar playing. Dirty Baby, also Breskin-steered, and also luxuriously packaged as a visual-art object, has a more specific concept – musical parallels for pop-art pioneer Ed Ruscha's paintings with their gangster-threat titles, richly reproduced in two booklets. Cline is accompanied by a raft of LA musicians here, including producer Jon Brion, and the palette is broadened to include violin, cello, jazz reeds and brass.