What a week--on all levels. I have a lot of catching up to do, so let's kick off this jam.
Cryptonight, Yoshi's, May 30, 2006: Paul, Annie, and I made our way to Yoshi's with just enough time to spare before the start of the first set. Living in Northern California, I'm privy to a ridiculous amount of Nels Cline one-off appearances, and I think I've seen many of the different aspects: the Nels Cline Singers, solo, and with Banyan and the Scott Amendola Band. But this show was different. First of all, it was a group of musicians associated with one of Nels's main labels, Crytogramophone. But more important, Alex Cline was playing that night! In fact, I believe Paolo made the trip out West specifically for that reason. As for Annie, she likes jazz and sushi--and how often do you get to combine the two?
Once more, I'll throw it right out there: I know nothing about jazz and only wish that I were underqualified to report. But I can say that we saw an extremely cool show. Two of the highlights for me were an emotional, meditative song called "Solflicka," written by and in memorial to their friend Eric von Essen, and "Mask," by Jeff Gauthier himself. For the latter, Jeff explained that he was inspired by a New Years' Eve spent in Mexico. He had drunk a bit too much tequila, and around midnight, he could hear a radio playing a Billie Holiday song while the local church's bells rang out. Incredibly, the band incorporated both elements, most notably in Alex Cline playing the gongs (!) to convey the church bells.
For the last two numbers, they brought on three horn players and Scott Amendola to perform a couple of Herbie Hancock pieces. As a child of the '80s, I only know "Rockit" when it comes to Herbie, so there was no way I was prepared for the wondrous cacophony and celebration that followed.
Nels, as always, was in fine form, showing his vast range of talent and formidable mastery of styles. He's a national treasure :)
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