I included Nels Cline and Julian Lage’s Room in my Notable releases of 2014 list. It’s quite a stunning album of guitar duets. Here’s an audience video and a Fretboard Journal interview.
Nels Cline and Julian Lage
Ottawa Jazzfest 06/25/14
Fretboard Journal Live: Nels Cline and Julian Lage
“On January 14, 2015, the Fretboard Journal welcomed guitarists Julian Lage and Nels Cline (Wilco) to our headquarters for this installment of Fretboard Journal Live. Lage and Cline discuss how they met through jazz legend Jim Hall; they talk about the gear they’re using for their duo gigs (a Gibson Barney Kessel Custom for Cline; a Linda Manzer archtop for Lage); and they discuss the art of improvisation.
Cline and Lage perform three tunes from ‘Room,’ their debut album together.”
Steven Schick and I were having dinner together. I was just beginning work on a large-scale piece for the Seattle Symphony. So when Steve asked me if I might be interested in composing a new piece for The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, I must have hesitated.
Deftly, Steve asked me to tell him a little about the Seattle piece.
I went on at length about the music I’d begun to imagine, finally concluding:
“It’s called Become Ocean. The title comes from a poem that John Cage wrote in honor of Lou Harrison.”
Cage observed that the breadth and variety of Harrison’s music make it “resemble a river in delta.” He concluded that:
“Listening to it we become ocean.”
“So you’re already composing a symphonic ocean,” Steve said. “Maybe for a smaller orchestra you could go ahead and compose that river in delta.”
Steve had me, and I knew it. Within a week I’d begun work on Become River.
From a single high descending line, this music gradually expands into a delta of melodic streams flowing toward the depths.
I now imagine this river and its related ocean, as part of a larger series of pieces encompassing desert, mountain, tundra, and perhaps other landscapes and waterscapes.
“I then had the good fortune to meet the abstract expressionist artist, Mark Rothko. He asked me my age. I replied, ‘In my early 40s.’ Rothko said “I didn’t make a living until I was over 50”. We sat around looking at the paintings that would eventually become Rothko Chapel in Houston. We were sitting around smoking and drinking Scotch. Morton Feldman was with us too, talking about life, booze and chicks. So I thought, ‘ok, I’ll stick it out’. Rothko gave me encouragement.” – Harold Budd, Record Collector Christmas 2013 by Paul Rigby