Oceans of Vows
• Featuring Nels Cline of Wilco & Yuka C. Honda of Cibo Matto
• Alex Cline is the twin brother of Nels Cline
• 2 CD box set with two booklets of photos and text
• Setting of Buddhist Sutra, dedicated to Thich Nhat Hanh
• Press website and promotional video available at: oceansofvows.com
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Oceans of Vows by Alex Cline’s Flower Garland Orchestra
Alex Cline’s Oceans of Vows is a deluxe box set of music drawing inspiration from four poems by Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as excerpts from the Buddhist text known as the Avatamsaka Sutra. It’s performed by composer/percussionist Alex Cline and his all-star 14-piece Flower Garland Orchestra, featuring his twin brother, guitarist Nels Cline (of Wilco) and many other stalwarts of the L.A. creative music community. The first performance was on Thich Nhat Hanh’s 89th birthday at the 2015 Angel City Jazz Festival and was offered as both a birthday gift and a benefit event to raise funds to help defray the cost of Nhat Hanh’s rehabilitation effort following a severe stroke suffered in 2014. The composition and recording was made possible by a grant from the Shifting Foundation.
The fourteen-member ensemble was dubbed the Flower Garland Orchestra after the sutra itself. Its members are: Areni Agbabian (voice), Chi Li (erhu, zhonghu, zheng, qin), Jeff Gauthier (electric violin), Miguel Atwood-Ferguson (5-string electric violin), Maggie Parkins (cello), Will Salmon (flute, recorders), Nels Cline (electric guitar), G.E. Stinson (electric guitars), Wayne Peet (electric piano, organ), Yuka C. Honda (electric keyboard, samples), Scott Walton (bass, keyboard), Brad Dutz (vibraphone, hand drums, crotales, gongs, percussion), Alex Cline (drums, gongs, percussion), and Vicki Ray (conductor). A studio recording of the entire piece was made with the ensemble over two days following the piece’s premiere.
In keeping with the spirit of gratitude engendered by this life affirming piece, all profits from the sale of this music will be donated to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation www.ThichNhatHanhFoundation.org.
Born January 4, 1956, in Los Angeles, Alex Cline began playing the drums at age eleven, first in rock bands with his twin brother, guitarist Nels Cline. During his teen years, his musical interests led him into the realms of modern jazz, free improvisation, and modern musical composition. Exposure to such music inspired Alex to pursue the development of a broader sonic vocabulary, leading him to gather a large family of percussion instruments with which to use in making his own contributions to the jazz and new music genres. While Alex and Nels continued to develop their own music through involvement in bands together, it was after beginning a musical association with woodwind artist Jamil Shabaka in 1976 as Duo Infinity that Alex’s musical activities began to flourish. In 1977 Cline became a member of Vinny Golia’s group as well as the Julius Hemphill Trio (along with Baikida Carroll, a unit which toured Europe and recorded that year), formed the electric improvisational trio Spiral (with Nels and synthesizer player-multi-instrumentalist Brian Horner), and began performing solo percussion concerts. It was also around this time that Alex had the great fortune to play with three of the Los Angeles area’s most important creative jazz artists and mentors, clarinetist John Carter, cornetist Bobby Bradford, and pianist Horace Tapscott.
Since that time, Alex’s career as a musician has evolved and expanded into something extremely varied and international in scope. He has performed and/or recorded with countless artists leading bands or engaged in duos, including Vinny Golia (both in small groups and his Large Ensemble), Arthur Blythe, Tim Berne, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Julius Hemphill’s JAH Band (with Nels Cline, Bill Frisell, Steuart Liebig, and Jumma Santos), Richard Grossman, Don Preston, Henry Grimes, Charlie Haden, Joseph Jarman, Myra Melford, Amir El Saffar, Hafez Modirzadeh, Satoko Fujii, Adam Rudolph, Yusef Lateef, Gregg Bendian (Interzone), Steuart Liebig, John Rapson, Horace Tapscott, Taylor Ho Bynum, Matana Roberts, Philip Gelb, G.E.Stinson, Barre Phillips, Charles Lloyd, Phillip Greenlief, Areni Agbabian, Tom McNalley, the European collective Shooting Stars and Traffic Lights (initiated by pianist John Wolf Brennan), Ned Rothenberg, Perry Robinson, Jeff Parker, Baikida Carroll, Michael Vlatkovich, Dwight Trible, Frank Morgan, Wadada Leo Smith, Henry Kaiser (and with Smith and Kaiser together in their project Yo! Miles), David Binney, Scot Ray, Ross Hammond, Takako Uemura, William Roper, Erik Friedlander, Susan Rawcliffe, Mark Dresser, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Nick Mazarella, Biggi Vinkeloe, Andrea Centazzo, Miya Masaoka, Dana Reason, Nathan Hubbard, Mark O’Leary, Kim Richmond, Theo Saunders, Dan Clucas, Wayne Horvitz, George McMullen, Motoko Honda, Walter Thompson, Buddy Collette, James Carney, Roberto Miguel Miranda, Harris Eisenstadt’s Ahimsa Orchestra, Joshua Spiegelman (a.k.a. Yaakov Levy), Dave Fiuczynski, Dennis Gonzalez, Rob Blakeslee, Kate McGarry, Mark Weber, Karl Berger, Marty Ehrlich, Jim McAuley, Stephanie Haynes, Joel Harrison, Jey Clark, Nicholas Kirgo, Judy Silvano, Steve Lockwood, Chris Dundas, Tina Marsh, Lenny Carlson, Burton Green, John Fumo, Lydia Lunch, Lynn Johnston, Iris Lord, Sam Phipps, John Wood, Wayne Peet, and of course Nels Cline. He has also worked in percussion duos with Ron George, Gregg Bendian, Peter Erskine, Christopher Garcia, Garth Powell, and Dan Morris. Bands to which he contributed percussion work include BLOC, Thirteen Frightened Girls, and Grey Pavilion. His musical pursuits have taken him all over the United States, Europe, and Canada, including appearances at many major jazz festivals.
In 1979, Alex, Nels Cline, Eric von Essen, and Jeff Gauthier formed Quartet Music, a group that enjoyed continued success in its performances and four recordings over an eleven-year period and was awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. Several of Alex’s compositions were performed and recorded by this ensemble. In summer 1989 Quartet Music performed its music for two consecutive evenings together with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Alex has served as composer and/or performer for numerous modern and contemporary dancers and dance companies in Los Angeles, including Margaret Schuette, Linda Fowler, the Momentum Company (for whom he served as music director for their “Soundspace” concerts), Dance/LA, the UCLA Dance Company, Belinda Cheng’s Auricle Ensemble, Oguri and Roxanne Steinberg (Body Weather Laboratory), and Open Gate Theatre, a dance-music-theater ensemble founded and led by dancer-musician Will Salmon, with which Alex has been involved since 1983. Visual artists with whom Alex has collaborated for live performances include Carole Kim, Yoshio Ikezaki, Kio Griffith, 2-Tu, and Norton Wisdom. He has worked on feature and cable television film soundtracks, done numerous sound workshops and percussion clinics, plus lecture-demonstrations on Asian metal percussion instruments.
Alex recorded his first album, a solo percussion double-LP called Not Alone (on the 9 Winds label), in 1982. In 1987, he recorded his first album as a bandleader-composer entitled The Lamp and The Star (on the ECM label). Thus began the twelve-year life of the Alex Cline Ensemble, a group that experienced some slight shifting in personnel but which retained the same core of players throughout its history. The ensemble produced three more albums: Montsalvat, recorded in 1992 and released in January 1996 on the 9 Winds label; Sparks Fly Upward, recorded in April 1998, and its companion album The Constant Flame, recorded in 2001 and released on Cryptogramophone Records. The very well-received Cryptogramophone albums were produced by Peter Erskine. Continuation, Alex’s album following the dissolution of the Alex Cline Ensemble and featuring Jeff Gauthier, Peggy Lee, Myra Melford, and Scott Walton, was released on Cryptogramophone in early 2009 to considerable acclaim. Around this time, in order to have a vehicle in which to keep playing with some of his most long-term musical colleagues without having to compose all the music, Alex formed Alex Cline’s Band of the Moment, a group which plays compositions by its members as well as by Alex and others. This group continues through the present day, Alex now having composed many new pieces for it. Alex’s compositions have also been heard on recordings or in performances by Quartet Music, Dennis Gonzalez, Shooting Stars and Traffic Lights, Barre Phillips, and the Jeff Gauthier Goatette. Alex has also initiated some successful improvisational collective units, notably Cline-Gauthier-Stinson, Cloud Plate (with Kaoru, Miya Masaoka, and G.E. Stinson)—both of which are documented on recordings—and the Rain Trio (with Eric Barber and Scott Walton). He is currently involved in a new collective project called Dependent Origination, which, while its participants tends to shift at times, most often combine’s Alex with Peter Kuhn, Dave Sewelson, Dan Clucas, and Scott Walton.
In 2011 Alex realized a longtime dream of presenting a new rendition of Roscoe Mitchell’s classic 1969 composition for the Art Ensemble of Chicago “People in Sorrow.” Produced via the Angel City Jazz Festival on a bill with Mitchell’s trio, the result was For People in Sorrow: An Homage and Re-imagining of the Composition by Roscoe Mitchell, featuring Oliver Lake, Vinny Golia, Dan Clucas, Dwight Trible, Jeff Gauthier, Maggie Parkins, Myra Melford, Zeena Parkins, G.E. Stinson, Mark Dresser, Larry Ward, and, via video projection, Sister Dang Nghiem. Documentation of the concert was subsequently released as both a CD and DVD on Cryptogramophone. That same year he received a commission to compose and present a piece for eight percussionists by SASSAS for one of their site-specific concert events, this one at the Baldwin Hills Overlook in Culver City, California—the four-part piece was consequently entitled “Overlook” and featured percussionists Joseph Berardi, Rich West, Erin Barnes, Trevor Anderies, Germaine Franco, Dave Shaffer, and Christopher Allis.
His most recent achievement is the realization of his epic piece Oceans of Vows, which he received a grant from the Shifting Foundation to compose, perform, and record. A full-concert-length work, it features settings of excerpts from the voluminous Mahayana Buddhist sutra the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Garland Discourse) alongside four-plus poems by the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist teacher, poet, and peace activist the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (to whom the piece was dedicated on the occasion of his 89th birthday), and is rendered by an all-star 14-piece ensemble dubbed the Flower Garland Orchestra. The piece was premiered as the closing event of the 2015 Angel City Jazz Festival and was subsequently recorded for a double-CD release via a joint effort between Cryptogramophone Records and Angel City Arts. Including such acclaimed musicians as Areni Agbabian, Nels Cline, Yuka C. Honda, Jeff Gauthier, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and Chi Li, the album will be released March 10, 2017.
Profiles of Alex have appeared in such publications as DownBeat, Modern Drummer, Avant, Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Pasadena Weekly, LA City Beat, Glendale News-Press, and Glue, as well as in numerous online magazines, and he is one of the artists featured in the book Percussion Profiles by Trevor Taylor and Michael Bettine, a book and CD featuring twenty-five of the “world’s most creative percussionists.” He has also been curator for Open Gate Theatre’s hosting of monthly Sunday evening concerts of creative and unusual music since 1997, most of those years at the Center for the Arts in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles, an endeavor that is apparently the West Coast’s longest-running series of its kind in history.
Still based in the Los Angeles area and continuing to engage in many artistic opportunities and diverse collaborations, some projects Alex can currently be more consistently heard with are Alex Cline’s Band of the Moment, Dependent Origination (spearheaded by Peter Kuhn), Nels Cline’s “Lovers” project, and Open Gate Theatre.
1. THE TREE OF ENLIGHTENMENT 13:59
2. A FLASH OF LIGHTNING 19:21
3. THE VOICE OF THE BUDDHA 6:30
4. THE OLD MENDICANT 9:57
5. WE WILL BE BACK AGAIN 16:06
1. THE FLOWER BANK WORLD 9:28
2. THE INCALCULABLE 6:09
3. MAHAMAYA 6:02
4. INTERBEING 8:49
5. THE TEN GREAT ASPIRATIONS OF SAMANTABHADRA BODHISATTVA 22:46
Produced by Alex Cline
Oceans of Vows
Order Due Date
5% (ends 03/16/2017)