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Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties: We Are Electric

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Rodrigo Amado Northern Liberties: We Are Electric
Portuguese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado hits the jackpot with the debut by his Northern Liberties quartet. He's found gifted collaborators in the Norwegian threesome of trumpeter Thomas Johansson, drummer Gard Nilssen and bassist Jon Rune Strøm. Amado's preferred domain is muscular free jazz. It's territory he's thoroughly explored with his Motion Trio, supplemented by guests like trumpeter Peter Evans and pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, and with his This Is Our Language band with Joe McPhee.

While the Scandinavian contingent often use compositional structures in their own projects, they are similarly rooted in the American New Thing of the 1960s, subject to a riveting contemporary makeover by outfits such as Friends and Cortex. The result is four cuts bursting with thrilling interplay at every level.

The impromptu joshing between the horns is a given, but the way in which Nilssen for instance astutely but fleetingly emphasizes a rhythmic snag by Amado adds momentum and noticeably ratchets up the excitement. Strøm likewise proves tremendously responsive, always ready to augment his own ideas to reference what others are doing. Such conspicuous connections manifest everywhere the ear settles.

Nilssen and Johansson, already partners in Cortex, enjoy a particular bond, evidenced immediately in the opening "Spark." First the trumpeter matches the drummer's machine gun rat-a-tat with his own fusillade of molten gobbets during the explosive initial release, then later roles reverse as Nilssen accompanies an expressive wah wah mute feature with a metallic offkilter clatter, further reinforcing the group cohesion.

Spontaneous orchestration based around simple extemporized figures and off-the-cuff counterpoint avoid the default blowing session vibe, while textural interludes link the varying flavors of interchange as moods speed by, transitioning on to the next almost before they've had chance to register. Solo opportunities abound too of course, and everyone acquits themselves admirably on what is an outstanding example of its genre.

It's taken a long time for the date to be issued: it was recorded back in July 2017, but should the busy schedules of the principals allow, this unit deserves to be an ongoing outlet. If the title is a declaration then it's one whole heartedly affirmed by the proceedings.

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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