January 31, 2007
COLUMBUS U WEEKLY
JUST DON'T CALL IT JAZZ
By Ben Peyton
For years music critics have prided themselves on being able to take creative pieces of music and categorize them into genres. We do this for a variety of reasons: necessity, boredom, and ego just to name a few. Of course the idea of putting music into genres means almost nothing in the long run. Music is going to be the same whether you label it rap, county, or rock; it just doesn’t matter. That’s why it is always refreshing to hear a band that has taken the idea of playing music within an artificial construct and thrown it out the window in place of doing whatever the hell makes them happy.
Avant garde drummer Scott Amendola’s most recent album is a breath of fresh air in a music world gone stale from mediocrity and unoriginality. With “Believe” Amendola assembled some of the most respected musicians in the world of avant garde jazz, improvisational music, and even indie music. On this wonderfully constructed album each musician gives one another the space to let lose and do their thing. Amendola said that was what made this band the more interesting band he has worked with in awhile. “The interesting thing about this band is that it is full of leaders. They are all bandleaders...I felt like that the five of us were more connected then in other bands that I’ve had.”
To be honest this album could have been a huge clusterf*&k if for not the great musicians on the album. Nels Cline of Wilco fame on guitar, Jeff Parker of Tortoise on guitar, Jenny Scheinman on violin and John Shifflett on bass all back Amendola’s creative drum playing. “I’m really proud of the entire album and I’m really happy with how the band interacts through out it...I’m really proud of that record,” Amendola told U-Weekly.
Because of these varying backgrounds “Believe” could have ended up sounding like an album with no direction but instead the album manages to mold wonderfully together despite the fact that each song features its own distinct sound. One second you’d swear you were listening to a Neil Young jam from the 70’s, and then an Ornette Coleman free-jazz song, only to end up listening to a beautiful lounge ballad. Amendola says that this was unavoidable though, “I am part rock, I am part free-jazz, I am part funk, I am part ballad, this is just who I am. I just write music and that’s how it worked out. It’s a really honest representation of where I’m coming from.”
Amendola is no stranger to making creative and distinct music though, he has been playing drums since the age of three when he says he started playing on pots and pans. Since he started banging on kitchen utensils as a kid he has shared the stage with some of the most important musicians of our day like John Zorn, Charlie Hunter, Bill Frisell, and the list goes on. When it came to making “Believe” though Amendola knew he had something different on his hands.” Every song and every note is played with such passion behind it. Jenny, John, Jeff, and Nels all were really just trying to get into my head and the sound of the music.”
Even though Amendola’s band won’t be playing any number one hit singles at the Wexner Center this Friday night, that is no reason to miss one of the most interesting and exciting band leaders on the scene today. For an exciting night of beautiful music, take advantage of this opportunity and check out Scott Amendola and his band. Who knows -- maybe you’ll even hear some jazz.