It’s not your last Bay Area chance to see his trio in action; they’ll be at Yoshi’s and Kuumbwa as well. (See “Amendola Approacheth.”) But for those of us who live closer to the Peninsula than to the cultural hubs of San Francisco and Oakland, it’s a rare chance to support creative music in our own ‘hood. Dana Street’s owners have been generously offering their storefront for mainstream jazz and other foot-traffic music, but the owner is tuned into the Nels Cline vector of creative music and has welcomed it into the shop — allowing Steuart Liebig to electronically jam on a Saturday night, for instance. Let’s reward them for that.
Besides, there’s no baseball game tonight. What else are you going to do?
Scott Amendola Trio — Lift (Sazi, 2010)
“Tudo de Bom” opens Lift with a downright friendly vibe, picking up a patient groove with tinges of Afropop, led by Jeff Parker spinning easy-flowing guitar lines. John Shifflett’s catchy bassline on “Blues for Istanbul” introduces a richly slow “world”-music blues. Someone walking in off the street, looking for a double-decaf-half-soy-whatever, could easily be drawn in by these welcoming sounds.
Even the more abstract, electronics-drive opening on “Cascade” gives way to a light-touch guitar line. I said you can’t judge Lift by two tracks, but the two in question turn out to be quite representative of the album.
For rockin’ moments, “Death By Flower” gets loud and Cline-like. “The Knife” has a crunchy beat and surf/spy-movie guitar for one of the catchier themes on the disk.
The trio on Lift is a subset of the quintet that’s played on Amendola’s last album. The group is missing Jenny Scheinman’s violin and Nels Cline’s guitar, but Amendola partly refills the space with electronics. He’s been trying this direction for some time, finding ways to trigger electronics himself in his live shows. (Cline has taken advantage of this, both in The Nels Cline Singers and with The Celestial Septet — reviews here and here.)
It’s interesting to hear how Amendola wields the smaller band. The first minutes of “Cascade” are a terrific group effort, with colorful electronics taking the lead, Amendola’s drums loud and up-front, and Parker serving as a shimmering backdrop. Shifflett even gets the first solo. But for most of the album, Parker’s guitar holds down the lead and melody roles, as you’d expect in a trio. He presents a mostly light touch on guitar, backed by denser bass lines and bustling drums.