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The Attic: Summer Bummer

John Sharpe By

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Although the cover painting might be interpreted as a comment on the two-dimensional nature of beach holidays, the title actually derives from the name of the festival in Antwerp where this invigorating free jazz by The Attic was recorded. It's the second outing by the band, which takes its name from its eponymous debut (NoBusiness, 2017). The outfit comprises Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, a muscular tenor gaining in stature with each successive release, his countryman bassist Gonçalo Almeida and up-and-coming Dutch drummer Onno Govaert, who replaces Marco Franco from the band's first album. The musicians combine to traverse a program of three lengthy collective journeys, navigated on the spot without recourse to a map.

Amado generates form as he goes, a bit like one of those cartoon characters frantically laying railway track just in front of a runaway train. In Amado's case that translates into extemporized motifs to reboot the improvs, something that he's perhaps picked up from his association with Joe McPhee. That's what he does in "Walking Metamorphosis." After a crisp, unhurried start, Almeida slightly ups the tempo and Govaert follows bestowing urgency upon Amado's slowly uncoiling line. The reedman paces himself, working up to an unrelenting yelping falsetto before giving way for a resonant plucked bass exposition with cymbal accents. It's at this point that Amado conjures the melodic figure which launches the next section towards its ultimate destination of overblowing and skronk.

Two of those instances of creative empathy which forge compelling music catch the attention in "Free For All." Almeida's introduction of wavering, arco squeaks entices Amado to intertwine in the same dog-whistle register. He develops the idea by alternating with gruff bellows before Govaert, who knows how to anchor a big saxophone sound from his work with John Dikeman in Cactus Truck, joins underpinning what becomes a dirge-like rubato, unfurling into gradually mounting intensity. Then later another insistent phrase from Amado lends impetus to the improv, only to be heightened even further as Almeida sheaths his bow to switch to a propulsive pizzicato.

Such moments characterize this well-balanced threesome and can be found throughout this restlessly searching date.

Track Listing: Walking Metamorphosis; Free for All; Aimless at the Beach.

Personnel: Rodrigo Amado: tenor saxophone; Gonçalo Almeida: double bass; Onno Govaert: drums.

Title: Summer Bummer | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

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