April , 2001
By Stephen Raphael
Scott Amendola has never been satisfied to just be an amazing drummer.
The thirty-one-year-old innovator has spent his career pushing music
in new directions, never more so than with the eponymously named
band he leads.
Since moving to San Francisco in 1992, Amendola has been nominated
for a Grammy with the band T.J. Kirk, toured the world and played
on national television with the Charlie Hunter Quarter, and recorded
or performed with dozens of musicians, such as Bill Frisell, Pat
Martino, Phil Lesh, and Primus.
But the effort that's the closest to Amendola's
heart is his namesake band. His first effort as a bandleader, Amendola
composes and arranges all the music to fit his sax/violin/guitar/bass/drums
unit to a tee. "I
just try to write what I hear. Hopefully it will sound like me," he
One thing for certain, the music doesn't sound quite like anything
else, though Amendola cites everything from eccentric jazz to mainstream
rock to African music influences.
But what allows a sense of continuity across
songs is the phenomenal interaction of five distinct musical voices.
He has complete mastery of every piece of his drumset and the ability
to create a plethora of sounds using sticks, brushes, mallets,
and even his hands. "For
me it's all about improvisation and opening up the music so that
anything can happen," says the husky-voiced drummer.
Rather than simply echoing one another, each musician challenges
and complements his cohorts. At any time, a member of the band might
change key, rhythm, or even tempo if it suits their fancy. Sometimes,
a musician drops out midtune, leaving the other four a new scenario.
And even during the awkward moments, Amendola
cherishes the right of every musician to fully express him or herself.
For Amendola, music is something sacred that demands complete honesty
and individuality. "Everybody
gets to be themselves in the music," he says. "That's the only thing
I know how to do anymore."