Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rodrigo Amado's Tenor Sax in Free Flight

Rodrigo Amado came to my attention via a recent Dennis Gonzalez recording I reviewed on these pages (see September 30th posting). I'm sure I should have come across him sooner, but what I heard on that recording impressed me mightily for his sound, his inventive spontaneous lexicon, and his fabulous feel.

Mr. Amado read the review and very kindly forwarded me a few of his recent CDs, which I'll be reviewing on these pages.

First up is his latest, Motion Trio (European Echoes), which features Miguel Mira on cello and Gabriel Ferrandini on the drums. What I liked about his playing on the Gonzalez record is present in abundance on this one. The tone and phrasing hit me right out of the box. They seem so naturally idiomatic, like he could play "The Farmer in the Dell" and it would be hip. It is a sound that is bright, with a hint of Rollins perhaps, and has real poise in the matter and manner of attack and release.

This is a free date with the emphasis on linear momentum. Mira and Ferrandini have a pungent, pointed collective role on these sides and they help things pop. Ferrandini's drum set has interesting sound qualities and he makes full use of them in interesting ways. Mira's cello crystallizes and projects where the standard upright might boom and this helps accentuate the percussive attack that Rodrigo capitalizes on with short, stabbing phrases and longer lines.

Motion Trio is a study in contrasts of soul and abstraction. It manages to make the rarefied sound comfortably communicative. That's quite an achievement. Most of all it shows that Rodrigo Amado has remarkable sensibility and musical throughput. I would have to say he charts in the top handful of new free tenors I have heard lately. Take a listen to Motion Trio and see if you don't agree.

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