Rodrigo Amado on tenor and baritone, Taylor Ho Bynum on cornet and flugelhorn, John Hébert on bass, and Gerald Cleaver on drums, four musicians whom I've come to appreciate over the years and who all four stand for creative inventiveness. Here, they come together for the first time, playing the great music of possibilities, but doing so with a very precise voice : you have rhythm throughout, powerfully delivered by bass and drums, not melody per se, but combined lyricism and interaction is what the horns bring. In that sense the tradition of the jazz line-up is respected, but not necessarily musically.
Although the second piece starts with a slow Amado solo, that with its warm and round tone, could well come from jazz in the fifties, but Taylor Ho Bynum's staccato outbursts pierce through this, adding edgy sounds and counterbalance. Interestingly, they keep this strange dialogue going, with bass and drums slightly increasing the tempo into a kind of lightfooted dance, slowly evolving into a more meditative piece of stretched sax notes and muted cornet, all sensitive and subtle, then ending in absolute frenzy.
The third piece starts slowly, yet quite rapidly it becomes more agitated with again Cleaver and Hébert laying down a great rhythmic pulse for the short blasts of the horns. You also get a staggering - yet somewhat lost in the overall concept - three minute drum solo by Cleaver.The highlight is the last piece, which takes you along on a journey through jazz, with boppish episodes, bluesy moments, absolute avant-garde, yet ending with incredible beauty and restraint, deep and warm.
What you get is jazz, strong emotionally powerful jazz, very warm and welcoming, yet utterly free in its delivery. This is without a doubt the best musical result I've heard from Amado so far, full of paradoxes between old and new, between lyricism and abstraction, between the familiar and adventure, between sensitivity and rawness. Highly recommended!