Once described as “the only guitarist who has played with both Frank Sinatra and Nels Cline”, guitarist Jim
McAuley has been integral to LA’s creative music scene for over 30 years.
After a brief stint as a commercial session musician in the early 70’s, he began focusing on his original solo
material, quickly landing a contract with John Fahey’s Takoma label in 1976. In the eighties he gravitated toward
free improv and was honored to perform and record with such LA legends as John Carter, Horace Tapscott and James Newton. He earned his MFA at CalArts in ‘91 (mentored by Frederick Rzewski, David Behrman and others) and in ‘94 formed a collective called Gongfarmer whose revolving roster included Alex Cline, Jeff Gauthier, Marty Walker, David Johnson and other Los Angeles new music stalwarts. 2001 saw the release of “Acoustic Guitar Trio”–Nels Cline, (the late) Rod Poole and Jim McAuley–on Derek Bailey’s Incus imprint.
Wire Magazine hailed the album as “displaying the range, strength, boundary crossing and genre-melding fertility of contemporary improv” and “high on the list of favourite releases for this year.”
McAuley’s first solo outing, “Gongfarmer 18” (Nine Winds Records) received a similarly warm reception from
critics, landing on the “Best of 2005” lists in numerous major publications. This album demonstrated McAuley’s wide range of influences, creating a style he calls “pan-idiomatic.” Cadence Magazine called it “a mood-altering and mind-bending album…He makes his instrument hum with excitement while stepping away from
rigidity and into an open and free world of music”, while the Wire simply declared it “great stuff.”
His most recent album (“The Ultimate Frog”, 2008) is a 2-CD set of duets with the late Leroy Jenkins, Nels Cline, Alex Cline and Ken Filiano. The New York Times wrote: “Mr. McAuley’s precise writing and playing is full of blues figures and rich-toned, acoustic-folk resonance.
It’s peaceful and rigorous music.” A track from “The Ultimate Frog” was featured on the April 2009 Wiretapper compilation CD which accompanies Wire Magazine.