Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio & Jeb Bishop

Burning Live
JACC Records 017

Lovedale

Green Sounds

ILK CD 187

Shaking things up for a new take on what had been a cohesive group sound is the point of both these CDs. And in both cases change is effected by adding a resourceful trombone voice to an already flexible band. What’s most notable is how the resulting arrangement proceeds in an individual matter. Without wanting to perpetuate North-South clichés, Burning Live, recorded with a mostly Portuguese band, is a heated slice of frenetic Free Jazz, while Green Sounds by the mostly Danish Lovedale is cooler and more restrained.

Interestingly enough both trombonists are foreigners. American Jeb Bishop, who has extensive experience with saxophonists Ken Vandermark and Peter Brötzmann among others, is the special guest of the established Andalusian trio of tenor and baritone saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, cellist Miguel Mira and drummer Gabriel Ferrandini. Meanwhile German trombonist Nils Wogram, who leads his own bands, besides guesting with the likes of pianist Simon Nabatov, joins Lovedale as a full-time member. Considering he replaces the combo’s bassist, the now reconstituted band uses his capillary tones allied to Jesper Løvdal’s tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet to produce an unexpected group sound. When extended with a rhythm section made up of Jacob Anderskov’s Würlitzer and acoustic piano plus Anders Mogensen’s drums,

During the course of three long improvisations Burning Live, Bishop and Amado, whose playing partners have included drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and bassist Ken Filiano, work in intense concentration, tossing timbres back-and-forth, sometimes as call-and-response, other times providing descriptive coloration to the other’s tonal thrust. The interaction is reminiscent of earlier sax/’bone duos such as Pepper Adams and Jimmy Knepper or Brötzmann and Albert Mangelsdorff. Bishop thrusts grace notes and triplets at Amada while using sighs and chromatic pacing for thematic outlines. Decorating the exposition with a variety of strategies from pressurized altissimo squawks and basso snorts to melodic patterning, Amado gives as good as he gets. Cellist Mira, who often plays with pianist João Lucas, mostly emphasizes the pizzicato bass-like qualities of his instrument, although he does occasionally indulge in some sul ponticello sweeps. Meanwhile with his pops, rolls and rumbles, drummer Gabriel Ferrandini, also a member of the co-op Red Trio keeps the undercurrent boiling.

“Imaginary Caverns,” the nearly 26-minute climatic track, captures this interaction at its most intense. Before Amado pushes his tenor saxophone tones from melodic to maximal with snorting reflux and timbre eviscerating, Bishop has already spent the first part of his exposition using plunger tones and lip pressure to define the piece. When Mira’s staccato walking and Ferrandini’s tough ruffs lock into place the contest is joined on all sides. Speedy and slow, sloppy and carefully focused, the front line runs through a variety of strategies with Bishop’s juddering glissandi suggesting Roswell Rudd at times, and his clean execution JJ Johnson at others. Meanwhile the saxophonist’s vibrato occasionally descends into baritone sax territory, only to upturn later on, melding with Bishop’s lines as if he was John Tchicai with Rudd in the New York Art Quart. All and all, Burning Live is a notable variation of contrapuntal, parallel, but never overbearing improv.

Similar instances of co-operative cohesion are displayed on Lovedale’s nine, much shorter tracks. Still, Wogram occasionally tootles his melodic, and Anderskov uses the Würlitzer with its less than exact pitch to punctuate the tunes with hocketing pauses and what could be signal-processed reverb.

Distinctively “Mefludica” is built on what sounds like harmonica slurs and accordion quivers, but probably comes from the melodica and Würlitzer, although the drummer’s sand dance clattering also fit those pre-modern references. With waves of reverb backing them, Løvdal on low-pitched flute burbles lyrically as Wogram’s staccato slurs echo the other’s solo. In contrast, “Beneath the Blues” finds the trombonist exacerbating his tendency to fill in every hole with pumping glissandi and plunger cries, while the pianist works his way down the scale with a Crazy Otto-like resonance that brings into play key frame and speaking length action. On the other hand, a staggering backbeat is maintained throughout by Mogensen, who has played with such Yanks as saxophonist Gary Thomas and trombonist Ray Anderson.

Perhaps the ensemble’s most defining moment appears on the appropriately named “Suite Green”. Cross-pulsed piano lines plus paradiddles and pops from Mogensen underlie the narrative as the horns bray in tandem with metronomic pacing. Eventually the trombonist’s capillary smears and the saxophonist’s intense vibrations become more distant and regularize as they retreat from the drummer’s straight shuffle beat.

An experiment – in Amado’s case – which works, and a new configuration for Lovedale, confirms that when done properly this unforeseen brass-reed partnership can create superior music.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: Burning: 1. Burning Live 2. Imaginary Caverns 3. Red Halo

Personnel: Burning: Jeb Bishop (trombone); Rodrigo Amado (tenor saxophone); Miguel Mira (cello) and Gabriel Ferrandini (drums)

Track Listing: Green: 1. Trains and Bones and Planes 2. On Track, Off Time 3. Beneath the Blues 4. Landscape 5. Suite Green 6. Mefludica 7. Play 8. Wogram Avenue 9. Green Exit

Personnel: Green: Nils Wogram (trombone and melodica); Jesper Løvdal (tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet); Jacob Anderskov (Würlitzer piano and piano) and Anders Mogensen (drums)