Tag Archives: Rodrigo Amado

Point of Departure review by Brian Morton

CF 297Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (CF 297)
Rodrigo Amado’s music is a letdown. Which is not to say that it is a disappointment. Quite the reverse. This is his most thrillingly realized and coherent recording to date. But the music’s determining trajectory is always downwards and deeper. Patterns of four, five, six descending tones in the opening sequence evoke nothing less than being slowly ratcheted down a mine-shaft, observing strata, minerals crystallizing, feeling the internal pressure build and the air thicken. When most of our laudatory paradigms for music involve elevation, ascension, transcendence, Amado takes us toward the core. Or maybe off shore, and then a deep dive. That opening piece is a veritable descent into the maelstrom. A quiet introduction on tenor and guitar (the highly impressive Manuel Mota) suggests a backstage encounter between Sonny Rollins and Jim Hall. It’s thoughtful, pleasingly discursive, but soon gives way to a fierier group attack which might unwarily be mistaken for by-the-yard Fire Music if it weren’t for the highly disciplined way Amado organizes the group round those bunched saxophone tones and terse phrasing.

Then when one is almost ready to shout despairingly with Poe’s narrator and prepare for a last plunge into the whirlpool, it pulls up quietly on damped cymbal tones (Gabriel Ferrandini) that gradually evolve a fascinating dialogue between drums and bass (Hernani Faustino). The group’s center of gravity shifts, but in such a way as to reveal its essential democracy. The set’s divided, in whatever sense it’s divided at all, into three sections – “Abandon Yourself,” “Surrender,” and “To The Music” – but the mood and concentration are sustained from first to last, and the titles merely confirm the feeling that by replugging a few expectations of what happens in improvised music, not least its repetition allergy and need to move ever on-and-up, we’re being taken further into a rich seam of exploration.

The Scottish-born poet Kenneth White (who has spent most of his working life away from Scotland) is a pioneer of what he calls geopoetics and of a hidden, transnational arc of creative activity that extends from the Nordic countries to Portugal and into North Africa and the Mediterranean, with mirrored activity on the Eastern seaboard of North Africa. He calls it “Atlantic” culture, and it’s a surprising latecomer to intellectual discourse given how powerful political Atlanticism has been in Europe since the war. Rodrigo Amado is the perfect “Atlantic” artist. His music looks West, to the great saxophone players of modern jazz, but also back to Atlantic crossers like Don Byas (who else shaped a boppish phrase like that?) and there’s even a hint of Dexter Gordon in the way Amado worries at a phrase, musing over it mid-conversation, wondering if he’s saying the right thing, offering an alternative.

It’s a most surprising record, this. Its antecedents – its genre, almost – seem familiar to the point of predictability, and yet nothing about it conforms easily to what we know and expect about such groups. The guitar and bass playing are revelatory. Mota plays in a no-style that seems to bundle up Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock and Arto Lindsay in a single phrase. Faustino should be renamed “the Lisbon earthquake,” if he isn’t already, and Ferrandini is one of the most musical drummers I’ve heard in years. Amado himself is a proven quantity, an artist of real and still growing stature. He’s been away on his own European Echoes imprint for a while. This feels like a kind of homecoming.

All About Jazz review by Mark Corroto

CF 297Rodrigo Amado – Wire Quartet (CF 297)
It is possible that Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado’s earlier releases caught your attention because of the names of his playing partners. Chicago trombonist Jeb Bishop recorded two discs with Amado’s Motion Trio, The Flame Alphabet (Not Two, 2012) and Burning Live At Jazz AO Centro (JACC Records, 2012). There was also Searching For Adam (Not Two, 2010) with cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, drummer Gerald Cleaver, and bassist John Hébert and The Abstract Truth (European Echoes, 2009) with bassist Kent Kessler, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. Obviously, he keeps good company, like bassist Ken Filiano, guitarist Luis Lopes, and trumpeter Peter Evans.

With that curriculum vitae, his working bands sans guests, are worthy recorded outings. Here we find Amado’s Wire Quartet, which is made up of two-thirds of the RED Trio, drummer Gabriel Ferrandini and bassist Hernani Faustino, who also perform with saxophonist Nobuyasu Furuya. The fourth member is guitarist Manuel Mota, who has collaborated with the likes of Noël Akchoté and Toshimaru Nakamura.

The three pieces presented have a nonchalance about them. The quartet strips away the requirement for excessive bravado and musical macho often heard in free jazz. It’s not that they don’t rev their engines, it just that they appear to have no need to beat each other (or the listener’s ears) into submission. The opening track, “Abandon Yourself,” saunters in on Amado’s tenor and Mota’s guitar sounding like mellowed and less frenetic versions of Evan Parker and Derek Bailey. Amado prefers a blues thread running through his sustained solos. The quartet picks up the pace fueled by Ferrandini’s merry- go-round of percussive activity. But even at its most frenetic, the fever of this band is manageable and controlled by the players. Half way through, the band pulls the brakes for some introspective exploration. Amado serves some hushed, overblown tenor and Faustino bows clement bass passages—all entirely within the structure of the piece. The remaining two pieces, both much shorter in length, continue the ennobled theme. This quartet has no need to invite guests musicians to draw attention to their most excellent music making.


Time Out Lisboa review by José Carlos Fernandes

cf1051Luís Lopes Humanization 4tet (CF 105)

Até 31 de Dezembro pode acontecer muita coisa, mas nada impedirá a estreia do Humanization 4tet de ser um dos discos do ano, no que ao jazz português diz respeito. Ainda que o mérito não seja exclusivamente português, já que a guitarra de Luís Lopes e o saxofone tenor de Rodrigo Amado têm a companhia do contrabaixo de Aaron González e da bateria de Stefan González, ambos norte-americanos. Os dois González são filhos do ilustre trompetista Dennis González, cuja carreira recente tem vindo a ser amplamente documentada pela Clean Feed, e possuem uma experiência musical eclética, que inclui passagem pelo punk. As suas múltiplas influências fundem-se numa secção rítmica que alia o músculo do rock à flexibilidade do jazz. A abertura de horizontes é também característica de Rodrigo Amado e Luís Lopes. O primeiro tanta navega sem mapa na improvisação livre – nomeadamente com os Lisbon Improvisation Players – como se aventura no hip hop mutante dos Rocky Marsiano. Quanto ao líder, não é guitarrista para jurar apenas por Wes Montgomery e é admirador confesso de Jimi Hendrix e Jimmy Page.

Da confluência destas quatro mentes nasceu uma música tensa, angustiada e de cores sombrias, que evoca, nos trechos de groove regular, o mundo sonoro dessa obra-prima negligenciada que é Pariah’s Pariah, de Gary Thomas. Embora seja autor de todos os temas, Luís Lopes reserva para si mesmo um papel discreto, deixando o primeiro plano aos seus parceiros, sobretudo a Rodrigo Amado, que surge em grande forma.

O tema de abertura, “Cristadingo”, possui um ímpeto avassalador e poucos terão coragem de interromper o fluxo sonoro antes do final de “4 Small Steps”, o tema de fecho. E muitos anotarão o nome de Luís Lopes na lista dos nomes a vigiar de perto.

Improv Music Collective top 10 for 2008

1. Clockwise – Michael Bates’ Outside Sources (Greenleaf Music, 2008 )
2. Zemlya / The Synth Show – Mark O’Leary (Leo Records, 2008 )
3. The Gift of Discernment – Dennis Gonzalez (Not Two Records, 2008 )
4. The Beautiful Enabler – Mauger (Clean Feed, 2008 )
5. The Rings of Fire – Daniele Cavallanti & Tiziano Tononi (Long Song Records, 2008 )
6. Humanization 4tet – Luis Lopes (Clean Feed, 2008 )
7. Within – Francois Carrier Trio (Leo Records, 2008 )
8. New Code – Peggy Lee Band (Drip Audio, 2008 )
9. Your Very Eyes – Xabier Iriondo & Gianni Mimmo (Amirani Records / Long Song Records, 2008 )
10. Renegade Spirits – Dennis Gonzalez (Furthermore Recordings, 2008 )

Cadence Magazine review by Jason Bivins


Luís Lopes – Humanization 4tet (CF 105)
Most readers will be familiar with all the players on The Humanization 4tet with the exception of the leader himself. Part of the vibrant young Portuguese scene, self-taught guitarist (and longtime music fanatic) Lopes has enlisted the excellent saxophonist Amado and the rhythm section from Yells at Eels to play a session that combines the vir¬tues of Free Bop, harmolodics, and Vandermark-ish genre play. The Gonzalez brothers open up the record with a vigorous shuffle, and Amado charges forward with big-toned playing that recalls Tony Malaby. The leader, once his chance comes up, is a weird one—and I say that with admiration. He plays with a clean tone, but he favors a middle pickup position so that the tone is slightly more tart than is customary. He slurs, he scurries, he stops in unexpected places to flail at a single note, and he plays waaaaaay behind the beat to create a most interesting kind of energy. Good stuff! He sounds especially compelling on the somewhat ominous lope of “Long March,” where he combines odd stairstep phrases with sudden glisses and the like (weirdly like Monk on some level). The band works nicely in and out of time on these six tunes, often wisely breaking down into solos and duos (Aaron Gonzalez sounds especially hot on “Cristadingo”). And they’re a versatile lot too, comfortable in the bustling Free playing of “Paso” (pairing grainy upper-register tenor and sustained guitar lines), in the staggered funk of “Principio da Incerteza” (spacious and airy, almost like an essay in non-phrasing), and digging into plain old riffing, as on “Big Love.” It’s a fine record, and a nice introduction to a quirky, winning guitarist.
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