Reviews that mention Scott Amendola

March 9, 2022

Henry Kaiser/John Oswald/Paul Plimley

At One Time - Improvisations for Cecil Taylor
Metalanguage M 2021-61

Without playing any of his music and with no piano on the session, this shifting group of Canadian and American improvisers devised a salute to Cecil Taylor’s influence more profound than if they had recreated the sound of one of the pianist’s Units. By improvising in their personal fashion(s), the three featured and two guest performers personify the genre-extending freedom Taylor brought to free music for more than half a century.

Inventor of Plunderphonics, alto saxophonist John Oswald, is also a committed improviser as part of Toronto’s CCMC group and with others. Usually a pianist, Vancouver vibist Paul Plimley has worked with sound explorers like Joe McPhee; while Bay area guitarist Henry Kaiser has long etched a singular free-music strategy applicable to collaboration with players as different as Wadada Leo Smith and Steve Smith MORE

January 6, 2018

Larry Ochs Sax and Drumming Core

Wild Red Yellow
RogueArt ROG-0075

The Rempis Percussion Quartet


Aerophonic 014

Two post-modern saxophonists playing three of their own extended compositions backed up by a drum team plus. That’s the simple description of these discs showcasing Bay area tenor and sopranino saxophonist Larry Ochs’ six-member Sax and Drumming Core and Chicago-based alto, tenor and baritone saxophonist Dave Rempis’ four-piece Percussion Quartet. Yet like juxtaposing Chicago and Berkley because they’re both cities, there are more differences than similarities between the two exciting discs. MORE

February 11, 2014

Ben Goldberg

Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues
BAG Productions BAG 003

Ben Goldberg

Unfold Ordinary Mind

BAG Productions BAG 004

By Ken Waxman

Bay area clarinetist Ben Goldberg has a consistent vision. The evidence is in how these two sessions, which were recorded four years apart but released simultaneously, don’t reveal any startling stylistic differences. The main divergence between 2008’s Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and 2012’s Unfold Ordinary Mind is that different casts create different emphasis. MORE

January 8, 2014

Artist Feature:

Ben Goldberg
By Ken Waxman

When Bay area clarinetist Ban Goldberg describes the creative process that constantly compels him to compose new music and seek out new collaborators, he sounds like the partner in a love affair: “When I hear someone I like, I have to play music with him or her. I need that person in my life.”

It may take a while after that first infatuation, but eventually Goldberg composes music which turns this attraction into reality. For instance the genesis of Unfold Ordinary Mind, one of his recent CDs, was the result of hearing tenor saxophone Ellery Eskelin and having a vision of having Eskelin playing alongside tenor saxophonist Rob Sudduth, a long-time Goldberg associate. “It’s a palpable feeling I have of how the music will sound,” he relates. That group, filled out by drummer Ches Smith and guitarist Nels Cline, plays NYU’s Law Space this month as part of the Winter Jazz Fest; and with pianist Craig Taborn in place of Cline will be part of an extended Goldberg residency at the Stone in February. New Yorkers can also experience Goldberg in a unique January setting at Roulette, as one of four bass clarinetists in pianist Kris Davis’ octet. The reed man, who has never played with either Davis or Taborn before, says he looks forward to the challenges. “It’s scary in the right way,” he affirms. MORE

June 23, 2013

Ben Goldberg

Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues
BAG Productions BAG 003

Ben Goldberg

Unfold Ordinary Mind

BAG Productions BAG 004

Keeping too much of a low profile, Bay area-based clarinetist Ben Goldberg hasn’t released many CDs under his own name for the past several years. He finally confirms his compositional and improvisational heft with these two sessions, recorded four years apart but released simultaneously.

In truth Goldberg, who often works in the Tin Hat group and with pianist Myra Melford, is so consistent in his vision that there aren’t any startling stylistic differences between 2008’s Subatomic Particle Homesick Blues and Unfold Ordinary Mind from last year. The main divergence is the sonic colors provided by the sidemen, although steady drummer Ches Smith makes both dates. MORE

July 8, 2010

ROVA & Nels Cline Singers

The Celestial Septet
New World Records NW 80708-2

A prime – and rare – case of parts actually adding up to a more impressive whole, The Celestial Septet joins two independently functioning improvising units into a first-class ensemble. Although both California-based ensembles, ROVA and the Nels Cline Singers, create impressive programs on their own, referencing sounds ranging from Energy Music to Noise Rock, this nearly 69-minute CD is open ended enough to provide a superlative environment for each band’s enhanced creativity. MORE

February 16, 2010

Larry Ochs Sax & Drumming Core

Stone Shift
RogueArt Rog-0025



Nu-Jazz NJGLO59-2

Nearly ubiquitous internationally – or so it often appears – keyboardist Satoko Fujii and trumpeter Natsuki Tamura are as likely to be found playing with their American combos or big bands as with a variety of other groups located in their Tokyo hometown.

Open to more musical experiences then those where they call all the shots, husband-and-wife Tamura and Fujii, who plays piano, synthesizer and accordion, may join other groups for short or extended periods. These superior CDs, recorded two years apart, demonstrate their adaptability. Cities results from a two-day Glasgow gig that joined the two with a trio of Scottish improvisers –saxophonist Raymond MacDonald, guitarist Neil Davidson and drummer Tom Bancroft – all of whom are as omnipresent in that city’s music scene as Tamura and Fujii are internationally. MORE

December 27, 2004


An Alligator in Your Wallet

By Ken Waxman
December 27, 2004

Limited to Japanese distribution, An Alligator in Your Wallet is an important CD because it provides new evidence for what already should be regarded as truisms.

One is that the usually self-contained Bay area saxophone quartet ROVA can smoothly function as the sax section in any sized ensemble. The other is that pianist Satoko Fujii, who divides her time between Tokyo and New York, is a versatile enough composer to utilize the idiosyncrasies of these musicians in more experimental pieces than she usually writes for her own bans and combos. MORE

November 24, 2003


Neon Truth
Black Saint 120217-2

More comfortable with contradictions than most North Americans, the French sometimes use the expression beau laide or “ugly beauty” to describe someone like Jean-Paul Belmondo who is not conventionally handsome, but is attractive none the less.

This concept, which also serves as the title of a Thelonious Monk composition, come to mind when listening to THE NEON TRUTH. Consisting of the abrasive sounds created when the harsh multiphonics of split tone sopranino and tenor saxophone mix with percussive noises from two drummers’ extended kits, beau laide seems particularly appropriate. With the strident qualities obvious, the beauty arises from skilful manipulation of this supposedly limited palette by top-flight musical stylists. MORE

February 24, 2003


Cryptogramophone CG 116

Designed as a major socio-political statement, CRY, the new album by Bay area percussionist Scott Amendola involves much more than the jam band/jazz-funk tunes with which he made his reputation with T.J. Kirk and in guitarist Charlie Hunter’s Band.

Pointedly “inspired” by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, according to the back cover, the drummer has included the spiritual “His Eye is on the Sparrow” and Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” among the pieces performed. Additionally, some of the other tunes, all written and arranged by Amendola, could have similar metaphoric meanings. “Rosa”, a relaxed, lightweight ballad may be inspired by Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks; “A Cry for John Brown” is no doubt directed towards the famous abolitionist; while “Bantu” and “Streetbeat” suggest that the disc may be trying to connect to the so-called urban (ahem) underclass. Finally, should we hear “My Son, the Wanderer” with its allusion to Allan Sherman’s “My Son The Folksinger” LP, as a confirmation that the percussionist has a message he wants to get across. Is CRY actually a jazz-folk-rock CD? MORE