salvo of dynamic trap set flourishes introduces "Tudo De Bom," the
Brazilian-influenced number that opens Lift, the debut of the Scott
Amendola Trio, reinforcing the fact that this drummer-led
session has no intention of forgoing percussive invention in
favor of austere compositional strategies.
A stalwart sideman to such notable West Coast improvisers
Goldberg and Charlie
Hunter, Amendola's proficiency behind a drum kit has
long been in demand, with composing a growing component in
his oeuvre. His diverse background as an accompanist inspires
an eclectic variety of tunes, while his fondness for in-the-pocket
rhythms lends the date a cohesive sensibility, avoiding the
dilettantish affectations of musical tourism.
Amendola is joined by longstanding bassist John Shifflet
and Chicago-based guitarist Jeff
Parker, both members of Amendola's quintet, which also
includes guitarist Nels Cline and violinist Jenny
Scheinman. Though privy to a surfeit of solo space himself,
Shifflett's unwavering support provides Amendola and Parker
with a great deal of improvisational freedom throughout these
skeletal tunes—more so than many younger drummers'
recent efforts, which often value compositional complexity
over stimulating drum technique.
Expounding on a variety of genres,
the trio's exploratory excursions range from the exotic "Blues For Istanbul" and
the funky "Lima Bean," to the reverb-laced rockabilly of "The
Knife" and the bucolic Americana of the title track. Underpinned
by Shifflet's hypnotic bass ostinato, the dub-inflected "Cascade" draws
a sonic parallel to Parker's flagship band, Tortoise,
with Amendola's otherworldly electronics augmenting the guitarist's
atmospheric blend of chorus, reverb and subtle overdrive.
The metallic abstraction "Death By Flower" features the
session's most assertive playing, highlighted by Amendola's
thunderous palpitations and Parker's staggered volleys of
coruscating distortion and processed noise—a unique
experimental approach with few equals in the avant-garde.
Conversely, the dulcet lyricism of the title track and "Lullaby
For Sascha" offer dynamic contrast in the form of serenely
delicate tone poems.
Eschewing convoluted charts in favor of streamlined theme
and variation-based structures, Amendola's expansive drum
technique infuses the trio's elastic interpretations of these
unadorned sketches with a wide range of dynamics. His pneumatic
downbeats and intricate fills convey the same level of nuanced
detail and depth as his understated snare accents and colorful
Melodically accessible and rhythmically engaging, the empathetic
interplay of these three longstanding collaborators mirrors
the thematic conceit behind the Victor Zubeldia painting
that adorns the album's cover, earning Lift its