September 5, 2002
NORTH COAST JOURNAL WEEKLY
CELEBRATE LIFE

Not long after 9-11, jazz drummer Scott Amendola was asked to play at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Travel problems has caused one of the scheduled acts to cancel.

"It was pretty last minute, I had like three days to get it together," said Amendola in a call from his San Francisco home, "but I said, ‘Yes.’ I was still reeling from the event [9-11] and wondering what I was going to do do for my first show after. I felt like I couldn’t ignore what happened. I asked [singer] Noe Venable to come down and sing Bob Dylan’s song, ‘Masters of War.’ I felt it was relevant.

"As an artist I have to express my feelings about how I feel about war and the government and what’s happening. I have to express who I am, no matter the consequences. Before we played I said something about what ere were doing, that is is dedicated to the struggle for knowledge, peace, understanding, and Love. I wasn’t sure how people would react. The song was met with a standing ovation."

The quintet Amendola assembled included his partner in rhythm, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and the musicians who played on Scott’s eponymous debut as a leader: Humboldt native Jenny Scheinman on violin, Eric Crystal on saxophones and Dave Mac nab on guitars. Since then the band has evolved with the amazing L.A. based jazz guitarist Nels Cline taking Mac Nab’s place.

"I feel like I've found my band," said Amendola, who has a new album with this band coming out on Cryptogramophone. "These people are what my music is about. They are very, very strong improvisers; you can put any piece of music in front of them and they'll make it their own, buy they're also team players. Most of the music is about improv - some of the songs have stricter forms, some are more open - with this band every night the music is different."

This week the Scott Amendola Band embarks on a west coast tour including a stop at the Avalon in Eureka Wednesday on the first anniversary of 9-11. "When I was putting the tour together, I realized that September 11th was in the middle of it," said Amendola. "part of me thought about avoiding the day; it’s a day that is now tragically historic. Then I thought, ‘What else would we do?’ The question is: Are we going to let the darkness control us? We can’t let things like that take over our lives and live in fear. It seems like it’s better to celebrate life. Why not have people come and listen to music and remember whey we’re here?"

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