October 8, 2008
THE JAZZ OBSERVER
Review: Scott Amendola Trio at Yoshi’s
By Forest Dylan Bryant
Scott Amendola’s exuberance for the drums cannot be overstated.
Nor can it be contained: before his band mates had even gotten into
position on the Yoshi’s stage last night, Amendola was off
and away, instantaneously falling into a kind of trance. With Chicago
guitarist Jeff Parker on one side and bassist John Shifflett on the
other, Amendola delivered both gleeful intensity and hushed simplicity,
balancing broad, fluid strokes with laserlike precision and maintaining
an inventive spirit throughout the first set.
Amendola and Parker are a natural pairing.
Each belongs to a nebulous, cross-pollinating ecosystem of bands
that bridges seemingly incompatible spaces—from aggressive
noise and post-rock experimentalism to avant-garde and bop-based
jazz styles. Both are fond of live electronics, extending the ranges
of their instruments through loops and on-the-fly effects. Together,
they are more than capable of generating an almighty racket. But
the mood on this occasion was relatively restrained, reaching a
few crescendoes but more concerned overall with concepts of groove
Parker’s playing was pointed and economical,
often with a quizzical air, as geometric doodles jostled with introspective
flights. There were a handful of spaced-out, crunchy twangs, but
also a sense of toe-tapping, bluesy cool.
Shifflett, relaxed and smiling, held a timekeeping
role against Amendola’s constant swirl, delivering walking
riffs and morse-code beats spiked with brief explosions of detail,
or strolling into dangerously twisting labyrinths, only to emerge
unscathed. His serene manner stood in sharp contrast to Amendola,
whose tattooed, wiry arms flailed in ceaseless motion.
Stretching out blankets of rhythm, tweaking dials to create spooky,
hallucinogenic moods or digging into a sunny, rolling pattern, the
drummer set the tone and blazed a trail forward. Although attendance
was sparse, Amendola had quietly billed the evening as a live recording
session. So perhaps a wider audience will get to hear these innovative
trio pieces in the near future.