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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rodrigo Amado - Wire Quartet (Clean Feed, 2014) ****

By Stef 

If anything, we can applaud the work done by Pedro Costa of Clean Feed to get Portuguese musicians of quality visibility and especially audibility outside of the country. One of these musicians is saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, featured here in the past few days with three excellent albums.

His Wire quartet consists of Hernani Faustino and Gabriel Ferrandini, the rhythm section - if I can use that word - of the much acclaimed RED Trio, and with Manuel Mota on guitar, featured before on this blog on various guitar reviews.

Amado is a fierce saxophonist, but his sound his warm and deep, which he manages to maintain even in the more savage moments. He is not Brötzmann or Gustafsson or Dunmall or Perelman or Gjerstad. His sound is warm and gentle like a summer breeze, even when the breeze gets to storm level, it is never bone-chilling, it keeps its warm round tone.

With the Wire Quartet, the band improvises freely, without prior themes or agreements, music flowing as it is, in the moment but with a great sense of direction, and with Amado leading the quartet through moments of calm intensity, of more nervous agitation, of increases speed and volume, and all nuances in between. Faustino and Ferrandini I no longer need to acclaim, as I have done that sufficiently before, these guys know their craft - technically - and their art - musically - to co-create to move as one to emphasise to color to propulse forward to go against the grain and to support.

Mota's guitar is the disruptive element in the band. His harsh dry sound is the ideal counterbalance of the sax, offering a strange tension of extremes, yet they move so well in the same direction that the disruption becomes a real partnership, like rocks in a stream creating torrents. "Abandon Yourself", the first track, is almost half an hour long, and moves like a river from quiet brook over wild rapids to quieter places again, with Mota's noise forcing Amado into savage outbursts and Amado's sax pushing Mota into unexpected moments of sensitive gentleness.

"Surrender", the second piece is shorter and a real slow free improv piece introduced by Mota's guitar, and again the guitar's short bursts and sprinkles of notes are in a constant countersound to Amado's long and sustained wails, full of tradition and bluesy inflections.

The album ends in beauty, with a track called "To The Music", again starting with sounds that grow organically out of silent first moves and gentle countermoves and subtle pushes forward, until the total sound emerges with solid foundations and volume, offering Amado the chance to shine, to soar, to sing his lyrical jazzy phrases full of agony and excitement propulsed forward by the rhythm sections and chased by the mad guitar of Manuel Mota, like a clash of two traditions merging into one coherent fist of music.

Available from Instantjazz.