WTF?! Wednesdays: Nels Cline and Gregg Bendian, “Mars” (1999)

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I came to this particular record not from Coltrane or from Wilco, but from Anthony Braxton. Even then, there was an added level of indirection as the record that introduced me to drummer/percussionist Gregg Bendian was Jump Or Die, a great Braxton tribute album put together by members of The Splatter Trio and Debris. I was so taken by that particular record that when Interstellar Space Revisited came out, the names John Coltrane and Gregg Bendian carried equal weight.

But who was this Nels Cline fella?

It turns out that he’s a guitarist who’s smart enough to not attempt to completely recreate a Coltrane classic. Cline and Bendian take the spirit of this Trane/Rashied Ali classic and make it their own. There are many points during “Mars” when they follow that spirit far into “out-land.” But this is a good thing…and I bet Mr. Coltrane would have smiled.

A few years later, when I learned that Cline was joining up with Wilco, confusion set in. It made no sense to me. But then I heard what they did together. It bordered on alchemy. Exactly like Interstellar Space Revisted.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he originated several of our weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Mark Saleski
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