Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Cline, Alex, percussionist, composer; b. Los Angeles, CA, 4 January 1956. Alex Cline began playing the drums at age eleven, first in rock bands with his twin brother, guitarist Nels Cline, then, as his interests and experience expanded, in numerous different musical situations. Alex's interest in a larger sonic vocabulary caused him to gather a large family of percussion instruments which he has been heard playing mainly in the "jazz" and "new music" genres.
After beginning a musical association with woodwind artist Jamil Shabaka in 1976 as Duo Infinity, Alex's musical activities began to flourish. In 1977 Alex became a member of Vinny Golia's group as well as the Julius Hemphill Trio (which toured Europe that year), formed the electric improv-isational trio Spiral, and began performing solo percussion concerts.
Since that time, Alex has performed and/or recorded with numerous musical artists, including Tim Berne, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, John Rapson, Horace Tapscott, Andrea Centazzo, Charles Lloyd, Baikida Carroll, Michael Vlatkovich, Charlie Haden, Frank Morgan, Burton Green, Walter Thompson, Buddy Collette, Roberto Miguel Miranda, Karl Berger, Marty Ehrlich, Jey Clark, Lenny Carlson, John Fumo, Sam Phipps, and Wayne Peet (in duo and in his group Doppler Funk ).
In 1979, Alex, Nels Cline, Eric von Essen, and Jeff Gauthier formed Quartet Music, a group that has enjoyed continued success in its performances and three recordings and has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council. European audiences grew familiar with Alex's drumming through his concert tours with Julius Hemphill's JAH Band.
Alex has also performed as part of a four-man percussion ensemble-playing composer Robert Erickson's piece for tuned tube drums and chamber ensemble, "Cradle" (as seen in the BBC documentary, "West Coast Story"). Alex has served as composer and/or performer for numerous modern 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, and currently, Open Gate Theatre (a dance/music/theatre ensemble led by dancer/musician Will Salmon). He has worked on film soundtracks, done numerous sound workshops and percussion clinics, plus lecture/demonstrations on one of Alex's primary areas of interest and study, Asian metal percussion instruments, particularly the singing bowls of Tibet and Nepal.
Current musical situations in which Alex is involved include Quartet Music, Vinny Golia's Quintet and Large Ensemble, the Richard Grossman Trio, a duo with wind instrument maker/player Susan Rawcliffe, solo work, and various freelance capacities. He recently recorded an album leading an ensemble playing his own compositions and plans to actively pursue this direction.
Having recorded almost 30 LPs and performed on numerous concert tours, both domestically and abroad, Alex Cline continues to bring his percussive artistry to a wider and increasingly global public. Alex Cline plays PAISTE cymbals and gongs.
Lee Underwood: Profile. Nels & Alex Cline, in: Down Beat, 48/7 (Jul.1981)