ABOUT THE PROJECT
Composed by Douglas J. Cuomo
Performed by Wilco's Nels Cline (electric guitar with effects, acoustic guitar)
and the Grammy-nominated Aizuri Quartet
If you put a musician in a place where they have to do something different from what they do all the time...
that’s where great art happens” - Miles Davis
The piece is a ritual in seven movements, based on the Seven Limbs, a fundamental Tibetan Buddhist practice of purification. The limbs are: Prostration; Offering; Confession/Purification; Rejoicing; Requesting the Turning of the Wheel of Dharma; Beseeching the Spiritual Guides Not to Pass Away; and Dedication. Juxtaposing Nels Cline’s’ wildly inventive guitar playing and use of electronic effects with the Aizuri Quartet’s classically based and forward thinking musical outlook, Seven Limbs sets these five musicians in a landscape that is slightly unfamiliar - where the ground under their feet is always shifting a bit in unexpected ways. This requires a musical alertness and philosophical openness to whatever the moment brings, an outlook that has parallels to the Buddhist practice of the Seven Limbs. Inspired by this thinking, the piece creates a world of musical ideas and settings that allow the musicians to explore ideas of meditative tranquility, subtle levels of mind, the battle with inner demons, the circle of karma, and sudden, profound bolts of insight.
Nels plays electric guitar with effects, and acoustic guitar. His music is partially notated but largely improvised, following specific direction and guidelines in the score. The Aizuri’s music is notated, utilizing the full range of techniques, colors and effects available to the 21st century string quartet, including some bits of improvisation and on-the-fly decision making. Both strings and guitar are shapeshifters in that the roles of soloist and accompanist are fluid — at times the guitar is in front with the string quartet playing a more supportive role, at other times the guitar conjures a multi-layered and evolving drone-like sonic environment and the strings step to the fore. There are also many instances when both will be on equal footing, intertwining in a way that make such distinctions moot.
Nels Cline appears courtesy of Emcee Artist Management. The Aizuri Quartet appears courtesy of Concert Artists Guild.
Douglas J. Cuomo
Douglas J. Cuomo has composed for the concert, operatic and theatrical stage, a well as for television and film. His expressive musical language, with its arresting juxtapositions of sound and style, is a natural outgrowth of his wide-ranging background and training. A professional guitarist while still in his teens, he alternated years of college – studying jazz, world music and ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University in Connecticut and University of Miami– with years on the road playing in jazz, pop and funk bands.
Guitar explorer Nels Cline is best known these days as the lead guitarist in the band Wilco. His recording and performing career — spanning jazz, rock, punk and experimental — is well into its fourth decade, with over 200 recordings, including at least 30 for which he is leader. Cline has received many accolades including Rolling Stone anointing him as both one of 20 “new guitar gods”; and one of the top 100 guitarists of all time. Beyond Wilco, Cline performs in a duo project with guitarist Julian Lage in addition to a quartet, The Nels Cline 4 (featuring Lage plus bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Tom Rainey), collaborates with his partner Yuka Honda as the duo CUP, performs as Stretch Woven with percussionist Scott Amendola, leads The Nels Cline Singers (featuring Amendola plus bassist Trevor Dunn and percussionist Cyro Baptista) and plays with Stained Radiance (an improvisational live project with performance painter Norton Wisdom). Cline also periodically presents concerts of his concept album Lovers, which involves a 17-person ensemble and collaborates dozens of composers/improvisers.
Aizuri String Quartet
Praised by The Washington Post for “captivating” performances that draw from its notable “meld of intellect, technique and emotions,” the Aizuri Quartet was awarded the Grand Prize and the CAG Management Prize at the 2018 M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, along with top prizes at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in Japan, and the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition in London. The Quartet’s debut album, Blueprinting, featuring new works written for the Aizuri Quartet by five American composers, was released by New Amsterdam Records and nominated for a 2019 GRAMMY Award.
Through its engaging and thought-provoking programs, branded by The New York Times as “genuinely exciting” and “imaginative,” the Quartet has garnered critical acclaim for bringing “a technical bravado and emotional power” to bold new commissions, and for its “flawless” (San Diego Union-Tribune) performances of the great masterpieces of the past. In the 2019-20 season the group will tour extensively across North America giving both debut appearances at Lincoln Center and at Carnegie Hall as part of CAG Winner’s Series.