Conceived by Wilco guitar wizard Nels Cline and poet/producer David Breskin, this gloriously unruly “trialogue” of music, poetry, and pictures was inspired by iconic Los Angeles–based artist Ed Ruscha. Originally produced as a book/recording, DIRTY BABY was performed live only once; for this exclusive reprise, Cline—a linchpin of LA’s avant-garde music scene, similar to John Zorn in New York—assembles a roster of outstanding West Coast instrumentalists and improvisers.
This absorbing multimedia work plays out in two distinct sides: orchestrated jazz and frenetic indie rock. Breskin’s ghazals—an ancient, Middle Eastern lyric poetry form usually set to music—are each paired with a large-scale projection of a painting from Ruscha’s Silhouettes or Cityscapes series, creating a striking, time-lapse version of Western history with a later focus on the Iraq war.
Cline’s ensemble includes Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto (electric piano, samples); Nels Cline Singers cohorts Scott Amendola (percussion, drums, electronics) and Devin Hoff (bass), along with Bill Barrett (harmonica), Jeremy Drake (guitars), Danny Frankel (percussion), Wayne Peet (organ), and Glenn Taylor (pedal steel).
For on the project, read our interview with Cline and Breskin.