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Rodrigo Amado: A History Of Nothing

Mark Corroto By

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Biologists believe the principle undertaking of an organism is to pass along its genes to the next generation. That same theory is also applied in psychology. Evolutionary psychology tells us that human behavior has been tailored to pass on our DNA to the next generation, even applying this theory to economics, politics, law, and literature. This disc by saxophonist Rodrigo Amado's quartet is evidence we can expand evolutionary theory to music, specifically jazz improvisation.

Amado, a torchbearer of the Portuguese improvisation scene, shares some of the same spiral-staircase double-helix DNA as the American Joe McPhee. And how is that? McPhee, born in 1939, is of a previous generation, one that spawned the likes of Albert Ayler and Jimmy Lyons. Perhaps DNA may be passed by means other than procreation, but let's leave that to the biologists. A History of Nothing follows up on a 2012 session, This Is Our Language (Not Two, 2015), with another stellar outing.

Those familiar with Amado's music know he wields a commanding tenor saxophone with a robust sound, and that he is a skilled improviser. All traits he shares with McPhee, who opts for just pocket trumpet and soprano saxophone here. The breathy notes heard on "Legacies" -tenor, soprano, bowed bass, and scraped cymbal -that open the disc, smolder as a harbinger of a blaze to come. With the cluck-cluck of horns, the title track begins a small riot of sound. McPhee and Amado don't so much trade licks as ignite the others to push their horns into new territories. The same motives inform "Wild Flowers," with McPhee first vocalizing on pocket trumpet before switching to soprano saxophone.

You might have dropped in here for McPhee or maybe Amado's sounds, but don't sleep on Kent Kessler's demonstrative bass and the creative energies of Chris Corsano's drums. The pair are the actual heroes of this recording. They set the table for all the music heard, supporting the horn players and, shhh, don't tell Amado, governing the orientation of the sound. The best example might be "The Hidden Desert," which opens with rubbed drum skins and bows popping strings. McPhee and Amado are satisfied to comply with the downtempo pace and each delivers an ineffable performance.

The disc is released as an LP or CD with the addition of an Amado/Kessler/Corsano trio track "Theory of Mind (For Joe)," an absolute burner, that clocks in at over 12 minutes.

Track Listing: Legacies; A History of Nothing; Theory of Mind (For Joe); Wild Flowers; The Hidden Desert.

Personnel: Rodrigo Amado: tenor saxophone; Joe McPhee: pocket trumpet, soprano saxophone; Kent Kessler: double bass; Chris Corsano: drums.

Title: A History Of Nothing | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Trost Records

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