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Rodrigo Amado: Surface (2007)

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Rodrigo Amado: Surface How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Like the preceding disc from Rodrigo Amado entitled The Space Between (Clean Feed), this outing works the same tightrope. The Portuguese saxophonist adds cellist Tomas Ulrich to this trio of Carlos Zingaro (violin) and Ken Filiano (bass) for an uncommon chamber jazz experience.

Amado is probably best known for his recordings with the Lisbon Improvisation Players and recently for the critic's favorite Teatro (Clean Feed 2006) with Paal Nilssen-Love and Kent Kessler.

This quartet's recording, while walking away from the jazz tradition, shares much with openly improvised music. But that is not to say this music isn't accessible. Together, the four blend sounds in overtly satisfying ways. The relatively short pieces presented are played with a sympathetic ear to both the listener and the other musicians. Each piece unfolds very organically, the baritone saxophone utilized as equal partner. When the strings are approached in non-traditional ways on "Calculators, the players opt for plucked or gently scraped strings and tap-tap-tap of hollow bodies. The key here is the human touch upon the instruments. When in this mode, Amado enters with a gently overblown saxophone to not disturb the flow.

The quartet gives a nod to the blues on "The City, Amado's saxophone plays over the walking bass of Filiano and the plucked and strumming of Zingaro and Ulrich.

The centerpiece of the recording, "Surface Suite, is five short improvised pieces of varying moods and textures. Each revolves around a simple theme. The musicians develop the tracks into framed pictures for your enjoyment.


Track Listing: Uncommon Places; Natural Bridge; The City; Luzzara; Calculators; Room 28; Surface Suite: Eat; Talk; Look; Sleep; Walk; Trails End; Art Is Truth.

Personnel: Rodrigo Amado: Alto Saxophone, baritone saxophone; Carlos Zingaro: violin, viola; Tomas Ulrich: cello; Ken Filiano: bass.

Record Label: European Echoes

Style: Modern Jazz


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