West coast drummer/percussionist Alex Cline is a sensitive player with a strong feel for interesting harmonies, shifting voices and changing moods when he writes music. It's a sensitivity not usually associated with drummers. But what's inside Cline, and comes through in his music, is from an artist and a musician, not merely a drummer.
He plays mainstream jazz gigs, but after his rock-influenced youth, he gravitated, almost by fate, to the free-form improvisers, getting his first break playing with Julius Hemphill.
Cline, the twin brother of guitarist Nels Cline, headed in an improvisational direction from early on, recording a duo record with saxophonist Jamil Shabaka (Duo Infinity, Aten, 1977), and working on Vinnie Golia's, Spirits and Fellowship (Nine Winds, 1977) with Carter and Roberto Miranda.
Cline's latest CD, Continuation (Cryptogramophone, 2009), is a combination compositionally rich and improvisationally open-ended quintet date featuring violinist/Crypto president Jeff Gauthier, cellist Peggy Lee; pianist Myra Melford and bassist Scott Walton. AAJ contributor R.J. DeLuke spoke at length with Cline about Continuation, how he moved from being a rock drummer to an eclectic percussionist with an array of esoteric instruments from around the world, and the interaction both growing up and even to this day working in tandem with - and, of course, independent of - brother Nels.
Check out Alex Cline: Free-Spirited Drummer at AAJ today!
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