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Ever shifting, the personnel of the Lisbon Improvisation Players (LIP) this time out encompasses an American-Portuguese accord. MOTION unites LIP’s core – alto and baritone player Rodrigo Amado and drummer Acácio Salero – with two Americans – bassist Ken Filiano, longtime playing partner of folks like multi-reedist Vinny Golia and guitarist Dom Minasi; plus ROVA sax quartet’s Steve Adams on sopranino and tenor saxophones.

Operating as they’ve been playing together for years this two-sax/two rhythm quartet shows that regional differences between improvisers are quickly disappearing – if they ever existed at all. Naturally Amado and Salero aren’t just any musicians, both players have extensive improv credentials. Locals, guitarist Nuno Rebelo and violinist Carlos Zíngaro plus Americans, trombonist Steve Swell and drummer Lou Grassi have recorded with the saxophonist. The drummer, who also plays saxophone, was part of LIP’s three-sax line-up in 2000.

That configuration might be why Amado and Adams complement one another –

frequently improvising with two or three other reeds that quickly gives you an understanding of the horns’ limitations and expansions. Another factor is that the four had just finished playing Jazz en Augusto after doing a bit of jamming in a local club.

Though a committed outcat, Amado’s temperate Gerry Mulligan-like status often comes to the fore among extended horn techniques. On a ballad like “All the Things We Are”, for instance, at points stentorian honks give way to mellow flutter tonguing. No matter what Amado plays, Adams sticks to him, decorating many of the baritonist’s lines with eerie-sounding sopranino trills. Not that anything fazes the rhythm section.

Billowing thick cadences from the large horn bring out stout pizzicato pulses from the bassist; while ney-like keening from Adams merely cause Filiano to up the tension with swelling, shuffle-bowed lines. For his part Salero sticks to resonating drags, ruffs and flams, stroking not hitting his cymbals and snares.

“Copy This” on the other hand is built on abrasive, metallic string activity alternating with harmonica-type squeals leaking from Amado’s alto saxophone. Here Adams’ more sinuous sopranino peeps draws out Berimbau-style vibrating scrapes from the drummer and near vocalizing from Filiano’s strings.

With both saxes either in double counterpoint or improvising in broken octaves there are points where it’s difficult to assign specific sounds to either – or even the bass or drums. When the reed pitches concentrate and thicken however, it’s up to Filiano with his woody, sul tasto mode or Salero’s slapped rim shots and rolls to disconnect the pitches to move the tunes onward.

“Shipping News” offers up a finale where Filiano’s arco sweeps and strumming, double-stopping plus Salero’s speedy paradiddles give shape to the surging call-and-response reed fluttering and punctuation. All this leads to a coda of vibrating, siren-type irregularly pitched tones from both saxes, completed by a swelling, low-pitched arco continuum from Filiano. Still pumped, Amado needs to have the last word – or, more properly, note. Following one minute of silence after the concluding quartet tone is sounded, he returns for a luscious yet unpolished postlude of alto saxophone improv.

It appears as if he couldn’t let go of the session and you may not want to either.

— Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Perpetual Explorers 2. Motion 3. All the Things We Are 4. Wrist Action 5. Copy This 6. Shipping News

Personnel: Rodrigo Amado (baritone and tenor saxophone); Steve Adams (sopranino and tenor saxophones); Ken Filiano (bass); Acácio Salero (drums)