Portuguese tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado adds another stunning entry to his discography with the third album from his This Is Our Language Quartet. It was actually recorded live in Copenhagen, three days before the outfit's second studio outing, A History Of Nothing (Trost, 2018) so, unsurprisingly, presents the same starry roster completed by multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee, bassist Kent Kessler and drummer Chris Corsano. The resultant blend of spontaneous free jazz, by turns refined, beautiful, exhilarating, heart-rending and belligerent, remains similarly fulfilling.
The opener "Resist!" could serve as an introduction to the individuals in the group. It begins with Corsano's unaccompanied timbrally organized drums until he is joined by Kessler's voice-like bowed bass, in an arresting start which shows that drums and bass are as capable of the expressive heavy lifting as the horns. After a pause comes an acapella exchange between Amado's gruff tenor and McPhee's waspish pocket trumpet which highlights the chemistry between them. Then Kessler's insistent pizzicato levers them into full on momentum, and they are off with first Amado, channeling early Archie Shepp, then McPhee on soprano saxophone characteristically mixing the lyrical with the abstract, displaying their finery.
However this is a unit which handles the subtle textural interplay as adroitly as the full force conflagration. On the title track, a braiding of tenor saxophone split tones and arco harmonics ushers in a passage of searing beauty as McPhee and Amado trade extemporized melodies. "Men Is Woman Is Man" features restrained interchange of a different hue: McPhee utilizes a pvc pipe to establish a didgeridoo-type hum with vocalized growls, punctuated by sharp attacks from Kessler, setting the scene for a series of spiky alternations between smooth and crunchy.
One of the hallmarks of accomplished improvisers is their ability to fashion satisfying endings, rather than either just fizzling out or sudden edits or fades; each cut here constitutes a self-contained journey with a definite conclusion. That is also true of "Never Surrender," which after a reflective beginning builds to a pitch of sharp-elbowed skronk, before undergoing a gradual de-escalation to an agreed halt which could not be more elegant if it was notated, further demonstrating that this is one of the finest bands around.
Resist!; Let The Free Be Men; Men Is Woman Is Man; Never Surrender.