Nels Cline’s expansive musical vision encompasses, intermingles, and frequently transcends multiple idioms. The idiosyncratic guitarist has received widespread recognition for his incendiary soloing and hip compositional contributions as a member of Wilco—though viewed within the totality of his creative endeavors, rock star might reasonably be considered his “day job.”
Mary Halvorson has become a fixture in the New York City music scene. Encouraged by Anthony Braxton to find her own musical voice while she was still in school, Halvorson has accomplished that, leading to gigs and recording dates with luminaries such as Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Marc Ribot, Tim Berne, John Dieterich, and Braxton himself.
Bill Frisell has been expanding the boundaries of what constitutes jazz for more than four decades. He doesn’t borrow directly from other styles so much as absorb the essence of those styles into his music organically, while at the same time relying on serendipity to add transcendent touches to his studio and live performance.
Michael Beinhorn began his musical career as an original member of the visionary musical collective Material in 1979, performing live and playing synthesizer and other instruments on the band’s first four EPs and albums. Additionally, Beinhorn and Material bassist Bill Laswell were members of Brian Eno’s inner circle during that era and contributed to the opening track on his 1982 release Ambient 4: On Land.
Guitarist, composer, and interdimensional sonic shape-shifter David Torn has pursued a singular musical vision for more than four decades. His outré approach to guitar playing and electronic manipulation had already begun to fully crystallize by 1982, when he made his first record for the ECM label as a member of the fusion quartet Everyman Band. Torn had been mentored by Leonard Bernstein, studied guitar with Pat Martino and John Abercrombie, and performed alongside Don Cherry while honing his artistic aesthetic.
Musical improvisation assumes countless forms—though nearly always within predetermined contexts. Jazz improvisers typically adhere to the currently agreed-upon vocabulary of their idiom, as do bluesmen, flamencos, country pickers, and baroque improvisers. Even the various forms of “free” improvisation, somewhat ironically, constitute genres.