Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rodrigo Amado - The Abstract Truth (European Echoes, 2009) ****½

It is not entirely clear to me what the title of "The Abstract Truth" refers to: a philosophical discussion on the nature of our thinking and knowledge of reality or a reference to Oliver Nelson's classic "The Blues And The Abstract Truth", with an implicit message that there is no blues to be found here? Why leave the blues away otherwise?

To be frank, I wouldn't know. What I do know is that the music is good, and soulful, bluesy even. And it is dedicated to Italian painter Giorgio De Chirico, a surrealist who is known for his deep perspectives, the use of classical mythological iconography, and static cityscapes. But again, the link to the music itself is not always apparent.

The trio consists of Rodrigo Amado on tenor and baritone, Kent Kessler on bass, Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, and after "Teatro", it is the second album of the trio. All eight tracks are freely improvised pieces, yet with a focused logic of their own. Amado is a great saxophonist, not necessarily in the traditional technical sense, but certainly in the musical sense: he can make his instrument sing, speak, tell a story, full of passion and emotion, yet equally full of surprise. The music holds the middle between expansiveness and intimacy, a rare quality and one that is also to be found in Amado's photography : a nice sense of contrast, clarity in the execution, broad themes, yet looked at from a very finite and unique human perspective. And a warm human perspective. Kessler and Nilssen-Love are excellent partners for his music, as usual rich in ideas, and also sensitive in the playing, only listen to the first track "Intro/The Red Tower" : a little capsule of their musical universe, with the arco bass building the tension, abstract sax phrases arise, the drums subtly creating a thundering backdrop and the sax gently and warm-toned introducing the tempo, with the drums picking up the rhythm and the bass switching to a boppish vamp, then the tempo changes again, slowing down, becoming bluesy. A little less than five minutes, but quite wealthy. And well, so is the rest of the album. Very much in the same style as their first album, yet slightly better on this album. Because the pieces are more compact: intimate expansiveness, grand in its finite limitations, universal in its all-too human reality. The blues and the abstract truth, dig?

Anyhow, as I've done before: here are the paintings of two titles of the tracks, bookending the album (it may be that other titles also refer to De Chirico's paintings, yet I didn't find them).

The Red Tower (one of the versions)

Enigma Of The Arrival


© stef

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, where can you get this record? I'm having trouble finding it.

stef said...

It's just released. Possibly directly from Amado himself. European Echoes is his own label : mail@rodrigoamado.com. Or just have some patience before they're available in shops. Also in the past eMusic released his former CDs digitally.

Rodrigo Amado said...

Hi Stef,
Thanks for the beautiful text. The name of the record refers to total improvisation, one of the most truthful music disciplines, despite the fact that it can be totally abstract. A little like De Chirico's paintings, portraying concrete shapes and objects but feeling very much abstract and surrealist.
Until the international distribution reaches the stores, you can find the cd through mail order at:
Downtown Music Gallery
(www.downtownmusicgallery.com)
Trem Azul
(www.tremazul.com)

mbari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mbari said...

Dear Stef and future readers, I'm writing on behalf of Mbari, Rodrigo's distributor. Contingent to each distributor's release plans, the CD will be made available through Forced Exposure in the US, Disk Union in Japan, Shellshock in the UK, VME in Scandinavia, etc. So stay tuned.