Scott Amendola Trio: Lift (2010)
Scott Amendola is probably best known as the drummer with the Nels Cline Singers, a guitar trio with detailed compositions, high-energy improvisations, and an oft-exhibited ability to shift gears at a moment's notice. On Lift, his first album since 2005's Believe (Cryptogramophone), Amendola debuts his own take on the guitar trio format, with guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist John Shifflett. Most of his compositions follow standard jazz structures built upon mid-tempo grooves, with unique melodies that sit deep in the pocket. Parker's tasteful, well-constructed melodic playing and Shifflett's deep, understated presence are the perfect compliments to Amendola's singular rhythms, which propel the tunes while drawing on unique tones and timbres played on a drum kit complimented by metallic objects and electronic devices.
Amendola announces the beginning of Lift with a regal one-minute drum solo that builds into "Tudo De Bom," a danceable mid-tempo Latin tune that sets the tone of the album. While each track has a unique feel, almost all have funky underpinnings, helping to make Lift a strong, cohesive set. Amendola's melodies are strong and also keep the record together thematically. That tracks like the bluesy "Lima Bean," and the textural, effects-laden swirl of "Cascade," fit so nicely on the same album is a testament to the composer's melodic sensibility.
Jeff Parker takes strong solos throughout Lift. On "Death By Flower," a modern fusion throw-down that is the album's heaviest track, Parker plays an aggressive noise solo that twists through the rhythmic maelstrom created by Shifflett and Amendola. He manages to be tasteful, and his ideas are clear as the he shifts tones while hurling frantic lines of chaos. "Tudo De Bom" finds Parker playing a more stylistically jazz solo that sits deep in the pocket, and his vintage tremolo-effected solo on "The Knife" rocks over the pounding, straight-eighth rhythm.
Shifflett and Amendola have a deep rhythmic relationship. The drummer drives the band forward with his singular rhythmic vocabulary, while the bassist helps provide a subtle intensity. Shifflett is a utilitarian player who keeps his bass deep in the pocket, providing a powerful counterpart to Amendola's drumming. His solo that opens "Blues for Istanbul" is melodic and moving, and his bluesy solo on "The Knife" is strong and commanding.
Lift is another great example of Amendola's significant talent as a drummer, composer, and bandleader. He has created an album of strong tunes with great band mates and drives the record with his masterful drumming.
Track Listing: Tudo De Bom; Cascade; Blues For Istanbul; Death By Flower; Lift; Lima Bean; The Knife; Lullaby For Sascha.
Personnel: Jeff Parker: guitar; John Shifflett: bass; Scott Amendola: drums, percussion, electronics.
Record Label: Sazi Records