One of the brassiest ideas Jeff Tweedy ever had was to open Wilco’s elegant and inclusive progressive-roots sound to the shred-grade chops of Nels Cline. Let’s be clear: Hip people hate chops, and let’s be equally clear: Cline has them and makes no attempt to hide them or obscure them in intentional noise. At first there was a light incongruity to Cline’s occasional Satrianism racing over Tweedy’s desultory pop; but over time his memorable flourishes, accents, conceptual counterpoint and rare moments of pointy shred so enriched Wilco’s sound and expanded its range that the move can ultimately be called nothing less than a triumph, as well as a stern lesson to hipsters.
Cline, of course, was already known amongst guitarists and fans of avant-leaning instrumental music. He has maintained his niche solo career, as well as his career as a prolific session player, all through the Wilco years. His latest project is the Nels Cline 4, a guitarcentric quartet featuring the great guitarist Julian Lage and an absolute stud jazz rhythm section in bassist Scott Colley (Jim Hall’s longtime duo partner) and drummer Tom Rainey.
The Nels Cline 4 perform at Club Helsinki on Saturday, July 7 at 9 p.m. Tickets cost $25 in advance, $30 at the door. For tickets and additional information, visit www.helsinkihudson.com. Club Helsinki is located at 405 Columbia Street in Hudson.