Friday, July 13, 2018

Rodrigo Amado - A History of Nothing (Trost Records, 2018)

This excellent album of free thinking jazz was recorded in Lisbon during March of 2017 featuring leader Rodrigo Amado on tenor saxophone, Joe McPhee on alto saxophone and pocket trumpet, Kent Kessler on bass and Chris Corsano on drums. Mixing interesting patterns with powerful free improvisation, the music is deep and invigorating. Beginning with the track "Legacies" the music opens with horns harmonizing with bowed bass in a quiet and texture based manner. Their combined sounds resonate in open space, slicing through the encroaching silence as rolling percussion adds depth and breadth to the performance, leading all instruments to coalesce in a delicate formation. Horns flutter with percussion on the title track "A History of Nothing" as the bass swells forth to carry the band into its improvisation. They build a fast paced and choppy motif, framing their excursion into the unknown with a raw tenor saxophone that sweeps the slate clean, making way for McPhee's soprano saxophone. He plays with great vigor, ratcheting up the pace even further, and his interplay with Corsano's drumming is simply stellar. Amado reenters the fray and the band embarks on a very impressive collective improvisation that carries them through to the conclusion. "Theory of Mind II (For Joe)" has bass and percussion probing the soundscape and laying foundation stones for the saxophone glide in upon, carving a space of its own amidst the rhythm of sawing bowed bass and splashing cymbals. Tenor saxophone joins in adding rough notes and runs to the proceedings, along with the avalanche of brass, bass and drums which evolves into an exciting, unfettered and fearless improvisation. There is a very interesting opening to "Wild Flowers" with quick flurries of brass, drifting in space and time with feathered percussion making for a fast and light performance, that gradually turns to plucked bass and sharp, angular soprano saxophone. The music swirls and gains speed in a colorful manner with the saxophones differing in light and shade, responding to one another and to the powerful rhythmic notions of the bass and drums. The excitement the band achieves is palpable, with the full group forming a sound that has a true physical presence which brings the listener into direct and instant involvement with the music, giving rise to a sense of urgency and excitement. Finally, "The Hidden Desert" follows the mysterious sounding bass and drums in developing a unique pattern that is well attuned to long tones of saxophone which soar overhead. Spare tones and beats are held in the open air, and time seems to slow down and stretch across the surface of the band's improvisation. Moody tones of saxophone and brushed percussion emerge, leading to a spare and patient resolution. This was an excellent album and it is evident that the four musicians have deep empathy for the music and one another. To play in a free fashion as they do requires a great amount of confidence and trust and that is rewarded with consistently engaging results. A History Of Nothing - amazon.com

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