Watch A Guitar God Set A Jam Session On Fire



medeskimartinandclineNels Cline is not a guitar god because his fingers can fly at lightning speed on the fretboard, although they certainly can and do. The Wilco lead guitarist is a guitar god because he can do so many more things than just that. He has got to be one of the most versatile guitarists who has ever lived.

Whether he’s performing with Wilco or collaborating with other artists as a solo performer, Cline can deliver sweet atmospherics, chunky rhythms, thundering chords, sultry slides, bluegrass licks on the dobro or country wails on the pedal steel. Also in his bag of tricks is a distinctive “sawing wood” rapid attack on the strings which can generate incredible noisy power, and he has an amazing command of effects pedals which create some of the most wild, unearthly sounds you have ever heard.

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Many of these pyrotechnics are on display in this video shot at a New York City club a couple of weeks ago. Cline was performing with Medeski Martin & Wood, the rockingest jazz trio on the planet who were playing without bassist Chris Wood due to illness. In Wood’s absence, the band decided to invite some friends and simply hold a freeform jam, and man, I wish I was there.

The video was recorded by a member of the audience, so the sound isn’t that great, and somebody’s head keeps getting in the way of seeing Cline do his thing. But the first three minutes of the clip are absolutely electrifying as Cline attacks the guitar from all angles. He is one of the most physical guitarists around, and watching him bend and contort his body to the sound of his guitar underscores his commitment to the music, and draws you in even further.

I found myself wishing the trumpeter and trombonist would just shut up and let Nels play, but either way, it’s one hell of an exciting clip.

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