I drove up to LA for the Angel City Jazz Festival on Labor Day. Got to see music by Ian Rapien, Option 3, Motoko Honda, Both Sides Now, Nick Rosen Group, Leni Stern, Alan Pasqua Quartet, Satoko Fujii Ma-Do Quartet, Robby Marshall Group, and Nels Cline Quintet. I was there for 10 hours and enjoyed every minute of it. I got to sit front and center for Nels Cline, literally close enough to prop my feet up on the stage.
Never pigeonhole Cline; he understands all music and can drop into any mode with absolute perfection. Here he pays tribute to cool-jazz clarinetist-arranger Jimmy Giuffre, who died in April, and you should hear Nels nail a straight-jazz guitar tone. (Flashing on Jim Hall is my guess.) From swaying blues to spacious free improv, his band tunes in to a love vibe of total beauty. Grinning Scott Amendola skims the lightest skins rhythm you’ve ever heard from him, leaving room for Joel Hamilton’s big bass. Scowling Ben Goldberg ripples out ecstatic long runs on clarinet. . . . Metal-looking wraith Becca Michalek adds chewy coarseness on baritone and alto. Now it’s 10pm. And everyone is very, very satisfied.