Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rodrigo Amado

Rodrigo Amado (sax; b. 1964)
Searching For Adam (Not Two Records; 2010)

The multi-talented Rodrigo Amado was responsible for one of my favourite jazz labels, Clean Feed (co-founding member) and now running his own label European Echoes.

But he is also an accomplished photographer and highly creative and challenging spirit in the free jazz arena. His style is clear, vibrant, adventurous and soaring. For me shades of Pharoah Sanders, Sam Rivers and Ornette Coleman surround his music.

But while this improvising spirit stretches across the spectrum, the listener actually gets the unique experience of song structure that may not have been a predetermined result. Amado is working in a similar arena that can only be possessed by fellow improvisers Ken Vandermark (Vandermark 5) and Mats Gustafsson (The Thing).

Amado has six album as leader, working in trio and quartet formats but also in standard setting as well as string based outfits. In addition to collective work with his band, Lisbon Improvisation Players and guest works with the likes of Luis Lopes and Dennis Gonzalez.

Two records that I highly recommend are a trio session he recently did with Paal Nilsson Love (drums) and Kent Kessler (bass), The Abstract Truth (European Echoes; 2009) and Teatro (European Echoes; 2006). Both are provide an excellent balance between avant garde and modern structure. The interplay between three is highly rewarding for the listener.

Amado's most recent release, Searching For Adam (Not Two Records; 2010) is phenomenal. Featuring the stellar lineup of Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet/flugelhorn), Gerald Cleaver (drums) and John Hebert (bass), Amado has created the perfect work built out of improvised vision and dynamic European moods, creating a beautiful causal structure.

Searching For Adam is an album that moves through abstract aggression and delicate time changes that appear at the precisely the right moments throughout this session.

While being the longest piece on the album, "Waiting For Andy" is also the most touching and exploratory. The interplay between Bynum and Amado is lovely to experience. Moving up and down the scale with fierce attraction. "Newman's Informer" features some impressive time keeping from Cleaver (someone who I believe is criminally under-rated) and Amado has moments of Shepp and Ware spinning throughout.

On "Renee, Lost In Music", John Hebert begins with delicately stroking the chords for Amado to then join in on a light but richly free flowing piece that exploits the best phrases from Amado. "4th Avenue, Adam's Block" has swathes of Atlantic era Coltrane. A real bold well structured piece that again shines light on the brilliant musicianship of Rodrigo Amado.

Similar to my obsession with Mary Halvorson after I picked up Dragon's Head, I became obsessed with Rodrigo Amado's work. In the last few weeks I have managed to buy (yes, I did buy them) all of his work as leader. I'm hoping to find a chance to tell everyone about them soon.

As for today, I think if you are familiar with Ken Vandermark, Keefe Jackson, Mats Gustafsson, I highly recommend you check Searching For Adam. An album that is truly deserving of a wider listen from us all.

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