Gregg Bendian and Nels Cline
“Waves of blistering white-hot energy roll off the stage, bathing the downtown New York denizens in sheer sonic catharsis. Drummer Bendian whirls around his kit with incredible speed and dexterity… It’s a formidable, throbbing foundation for guitarist Nels Cline, who seems to be pushed beyond levels of human abandon by the sustained and focused intensity of Bendian’s pumped up percussive assault.” -Bill Mikowski in Jazz Times
“I bet you won’t see that on Ken Burn’s Jazz!” an audience member shouted at a New York performance Cline and Bendian’s Insterstellar Space Revisited, an “faithful yet interpretive” homage to the John Coltrane and Rashied Ali work. Rashied Ali has praised the duo, “…I thought it took a lot of balls to do something like that…They did a really great job with it so i’ll give it up.”
As is the case with other works of free jazz, Coltrane’s later work is often dismissed by the mainstream in favor of the work of the ‘classic quartet’. Bendian has comments on the politics of covering Interstellar Space, “This album had a big impact on everyone’s concept of free improvising, though later ‘Trane has been most often labeled as difficult, wild, crazy, not understandable.” Put differently by Edward Strickland in the Atlantic Monthly, “Coltrane forsook lyricism for an unfettered quest for ecstasy.”
Gregg Bendian is widely recognized as an innovator in the field of percussion. He has collaborated with some of the strongest personalities in contemporary music including Cecil Taylor, John Zorn, Gavin Bryars, George Lewis, Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell and Derek Bailey. Bendian is the featured timpani soloist in Ornette Coleman’s Harmelodic Chamber Players. As a leader he has recorded extensively with his ensembles Interzone (“Requiem for Jack Kirby”, Atavistic) Trio Pianissimo (“Balance”, TrueMedia) and The Mahavishnu Project (“Live Bootleg”, Aggregate Music). Bendian is one of twenty-five international percussion innovators featured in the new book “Percussion Profiles” by Michael Bettine and Trevor Taylor (Soundworld Publishers).
Nels Cline began playing guitar around the age of 12, when his twin brother, Alex, began learning the drums. By the time Nels reached his 20s, he was heavily involved in LA’s improvisational community and, in 1978, appeared on his first recording, Openhearted by multi-instrumentalist Vinny Golia. He has gone on to appear on over 100 releases, lead several of his own groups — including the Nels Cline Trio, and the sextet that followed, Destroy All Nels Cline — and tour internationally with a variety of bands.
The first half of the ’90s found his new Nels Cline Trio hosting a weekly improv series for four years and recording as many albums. During the 1990s, Nels has worked with Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth), Stephen Perkins (Jane’s Addiction), Mike Watt (Minutemen) Julius Hemphill, Quartet Music, Charlie Haden, Mark Isham and the Geraldine Fibbers He was named the Outstanding Jazz Artist of 1999 at the California Music Awards; Inking followed in mid-2000. His current activities center around his new trio, The Nels Cline Singers, as well as with The Scott Amendola Band, Crater, Banyan, Andrea Parkins, Zeena Parkins, and Carla Bozulich (Scarnella and The Red Headed Stranger Project).