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Rodrigo Amado / Chris Corsano: No Place to Fall

John Sharpe By

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Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado's early output has been notable for the freewheeling interplay between him and other talented horn players like trombonist Jeb Bishop, trumpeter Peter Evans and multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. It's the quartet he fronts with McPhee which contains the seed for this Lisbon studio date from summer 2014, in that it includes the drummer on the session here, Chris Corsano. At this juncture the musicians had recorded one album, the well-received This Is Our Language (Not Two, 2015) and were three years away from their next, the terrific A History Of Nothing (Trost, 2018). But here Amado shows himself more than capable of holding center stage throughout.

Alongside him, Corsano brings all his long experience in the saxophone/drums format to bear, having partnered with American force of nature Paul Flaherty on numerous occasions. But of course his ambit stretches much wider, famously taking in stints with Björk, as well as associations with reedman Evan Parker and trumpeter Nate Wooley, and he also incorporates some of that artifice into his roiling cavalcade. As a result he fashions a controlled eruption which alternates between rhythmic patterns almost constantly, but in a way responsive to the overall thrust.

Across five off-the-wall creations, the source of the success lies in the pacing, even if the final destination is often the sort of glorious full spate expression typified by "Announcement." After an explosive start the group combines to impart a furious momentum, although Corsano varies the intensity behind Amado's gruff, obsessive rant, keeping it aloft on a series of continually cresting waves of sound. Even in the midst of his outpouring Amado remains prudent, sticking in the middle register, worrying away at simple extemporized motifs like a dog at a bone, until breaking into hoarse, inchoate cries only at the very end. It's a winning gambit revisited throughout.

Cuts like "Don't Take It Too Bad" provide the contrasts with the rest of the program, exposing the pathos which offsets the punishment. Amado begins with gusty phrases set amid silence, eventually shadowed by distant percussion. While the reedman continues serene, Corsano develops an uneven backdrop. Yet when they take an assertive stance, it proves only temporary as they regroup behind unfussy figures, which emphasize the tension between Amado's restraint and the drummer's breathless delivery.

Even so it's not until the closing "We'll Be Here In The Morning," where the saxophonist's hushed melodicism is set against brushed patter, that you could describe proceedings as laid back. The track ends on a ruminative note, with Amado's murmuring tenor tailing Corsano's glacially slow martial cadence. But whatever the metaphysical weather, the album clears out the ears in a varied and engaging style, all the while signaling Amado as a major voice.

Track Listing: Announcement; Don't Take It Too Bad; No Place To Fall; Into The Valley; We’ll Be Here In The Morning.

Personnel: Rodrigo Amado: tenor saxophone; Chris Corsano: drums.

Title: No Place to Fall | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Astral Spirits

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