Thollem/Wimberly/Cline -
Radical Empathy

Release date - June 23, 2015

Michael Wimberly - drums.
Nels Cline - electric guitar/effects.
Thollem - electric effected acoustic piano, analog outfitters AO44, modified electric piano/effects.

Thinkers Mix (Thollem/Wimberly/Cline)

"I love this record. I thought I probably would, but the reality surpassed my expectations. Maybe because so many more questions are posed and elegant solutions put forward than I had imagined before I heard it.

About tuning and timbre. Density and openness. Repetition and memory.

About style and genre and the nature of technique.

Flashes of Larry Young and Tony Williams Lifetime when they were re-defining jazz forever. Tristano. Sharrock.

Subtle alterations, treatments, processes. Relentless kinetic energy.

Above all, an appreciation for how to find and hang on to your place in a narrative unfolding at speed. For the fact that structure is not what is imposed, but what is revealed. For how the recording process affects sound and performance.

If empathy is the capacity for putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, then these are truly empathetic players, which we hear at every twist and turn. But I’m also struck by something about physics, about the nature of mass and the strength of mutual gravitational attraction. This music seems to exist as much on that basic level as on any other, and as such it is compelling and fun. Like watching asteroids. Or blades of grass. Or shoals of fish. Or birds."

- Fred Frith


"The title of this album was inspired by radical empathy, the philosophy that in order to find truly sustainable resolution to conflict, it's necessary not only to yield and compromise but to find empathy with each other's perspectives and suffering. While manifested from different viewpoints, as musicians, we practice this approach through the process of working/playing/being together. In free and structured improvisation, empathy is a core focus.

As a long time grass-roots activist, I find that people share similar, if not the same, struggles even if their causes are parallel or opposing. In this way radical empathy, the concept and practice of, is a necessary component to resolving long term conflicts and a way to help peoples overcome their respective historical oppression.

Thollem/Wimberly/Cline: Radical Empathy
Nels, Michael, Eli and I spent 3 hours together on a snowy February 3rd, 2014 at Rivington 66 in lower Manhattan, playing short collaborations steered very minimally by me. Nels and I are both playing with, and through, equipment that was created by Analog Outfitters, a small company in Champaign, IL. AO upcycles otherwise discarded Hammond organs (“no B3s were harmed in this process”) to create new equipment. I am playing their ORGANic MINI 44 midi-controller which utilizes vintage Hammond organ parts including the key bed, draw bars and wood casing. Nels is playing through an amp they created out of tubes and such from discarded organs with an old metal road sign casing. On Howled Ground, I am playing a Yamaha pf10 through analog pedals from Bearfoot FX, a boutique pedal company out of St. Louis, MO. I'm also running a mic from inside the piano through these pedals (effected piano).

This is the 2nd album of the trio project on which Nels and I are collaborating. The first, 'The Gowanus Session', was with William Parker. The third will be recorded in August 2015 with Pauline Oliveros."

- Thollem


Michael Wimberly, percussionist/composer/arranger/producer from Cleveland is based in Harlem, NYC. Wimberly has recorded and toured internationally with Charles Gayle, William Parker, Sabir Mateen, Cooper-Moore, Borah Bergman, Steve Coleman, Roy Campbell, David Murray, John Blum, Kali Fasteau, Sirone, Vernon Reid, Kidd Jordan, Cooper-Moore, Henry Rollins, Blondie, Mickey Hart, Teramasa Hino, Onaje Allen Gumbs. Oluyemi & Ijeoma Thomas and many others.

As a percussion soloist, Wimberly has been featured with Europe’s Rundfunk and Tonkuntsler Symphony Orchestras, International Regions Symphony of Europe, Yakima Chamber Orchestra (Yakima,Wa.), Sage City Symphony, (Bennington, Vt).

As a composer, Wimberly's compositions appear in dance companies Urban Bush Women, Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Philadanco, Forces of Nature, Complexions, Alpha-Omega, Purelements, and The National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique. Wimberly is the president of Together with Music, a non-profit collective on the island of São Miguel, Azores, PT. Since 2012, Wimberly has been a professor of music at Bennington College in Vermont.

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 160 recordings, including at least 30 for which he is leader. Born in Los Angeles in 1956, 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, he leads The Nels Cline Singers (featuring Scott Amendola, bassist Trevor Dunn and Cyro Baptista), performs in a duo project with jazz guitar prodigy Julian Lage, and plays with Stained Radiance (an improvisational live project with performance painter Norton Wisdom), Fig (a collaboration with Yuka Honda), BB&C (a trio with Tim Berne & Jim Black) and Pillow Wand (a duo with guitarist Thurston Moore). A few of the other musicians with whom he has performed and/or recorded include: Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Yoko Ono, Jeff Gauthier, Mike Watt, Carla Bozulich, Vinny Golia, Marc Ribot, Tinariwen, Julius Hemphill, Charlie Haden, Wadada Leo Smith, Lydia Lunch, and Lee Ranaldo.

Thollem has been excavating depths of sound and energy for 48 years. After dedicating his 20s and 30s to grassroots political activism, he's refocused his attention these last 10 years on a breadth of musics that incorporate his myriad experiences and curiosities.

In this last decade alone, he has played well over 1,000 concerts throughout N. America and Europe as a soloist and in collaboration with hundreds of musicians, dancers, and filmmakers. As leader or co-leader, he has released over 40 albums in that span on 19 different vanguard labels to international critical acclaim.

“Thollem is an astounding pianist who understands the huge scope of the instrument” (Terry Riley) and who continues to delve into the furthest reaches and sub-genres of Post-Classical, Free Jazz, Noise, Punk, dance and film. A brief cross section of his many recent collaborators include William Parker, Pauline Oliveros, Stefano Scodanibbio, Mike Watt, Martha Colburn and Matthew Barney. He is the founding director of Estamos Ensemble, a Mexican-American cross border ensemble for musical exchange as well as the lead singer of the Italian agit-punk band Tsigoti.


Release number: RPR1041