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Album Review

Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties: We Are Electric

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Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties: We Are Electric
The predicament with modern albums is that an album is often more than just one album. With the advent of streaming music, and compact discs before it, music expands beyond the unit we traditionally designated as side one or side two of an LP. A perfect example of this concept is We Are Electric by the Portuguese-Norwegian collaboration Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties. Three of the four tracks here could easily be considered a freestanding LP side and, if that were so, they would be self-contained and complete. For instance, the opening track "Spark," which clocks in at over seventeen minutes, is a free jazz gut punch in the Albert Ayler/Donald Ayler, Daniel Carter/Roy Campbell tradition. The music is an entire meal in itself. If it were one side of an LP, one might be tempted to place the stylus back on the LP's initial groove, either fearing side two and three cannot sustain the energy or, alternatively, one's ears cannot keep pace with the musicians.

The short answer is, it can and they will (well, maybe). This recording from 2017 finds the Norwegian trio of trumpeter Thomas Johansson, bassist Jon Rune Strøm and drummer Gard Nilssen dropping in on Portuguese tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado to record in Lisbon. While their mother-tongues are different, the Nordic trio—which can be heard in various ensembles including Friends & Neighbors, Paal Nilssen-Love's Large Unit, Cortex, Gard Nilssen's Supersonic Orchestra, and Jon Rune Strøm Quintet—speak a universal language, one in which Amado is well versed. The saxophonist released music in 2021 with Joe McPhee Let The Free Be Men (Trost), and Alexander von Schlippenbach The Field (NoBusiness) with Rodrigo Amigo Motion trio. It is no surprise the quartet is fluent in this musical language. What is amazing is the free-flowing interchange of ideas and musical conversation heard on these four instantly composed tracks. From the incendiary opening "Spark," "Ignition" begins quietly enough with bowed bass and brushwork on cymbals and drums. Likewise "Activity" opens with quiet saxophone tones and muted trumpet over bowed bass and cymbal splashes. The quartet builds momentum, fueled by Nilssen's relentless attack. The drummer's engine powers the entire album, propelling both Amado and Johansson's horns to engage throughout. They alternate between call-and-response and flat out provocation. Each track, even the shortish 5½ minutes of "Response," is an entire feast of sound for the ears.

Track Listing

Spark; Ignition; Activity; Response.

Personnel

Rodrigo Amado: saxophone; Thomas Johansson: trumpet; Jon Rune Strøm: bass, acoustic; Gard Nilssen: drums.

Album information

Title: We Are Electric | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Not Two Records

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