September 5, 2002
COAST JOURNAL WEEKLY
Not long after 9-11, jazz drummer Scott Amendola was asked to play
at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Travel problems has caused one of
the scheduled acts to cancel.
"It was pretty last minute, I had like three days to get it together," said
Amendola in a call from his San Francisco home, "but I said, ‘Yes.’ I
was still reeling from the event [9-11] and wondering what I was
going to do do for my first show after. I felt like I couldn’t
ignore what happened. I asked [singer] Noe Venable to come down and
sing Bob Dylan’s song, ‘Masters of War.’ I felt
it was relevant.
"As an artist I have to express my feelings about how I feel about
war and the government and what’s happening. I have to express
who I am, no matter the consequences. Before we played I said something
about what ere were doing, that is is dedicated to the struggle for
knowledge, peace, understanding, and Love. I wasn’t sure how
people would react. The song was met with a standing ovation."
The quintet Amendola assembled included his
partner in rhythm, bassist Todd Sickafoose, and the musicians who
played on Scott’s eponymous
debut as a leader: Humboldt native Jenny Scheinman on violin, Eric
Crystal on saxophones and Dave Mac nab on guitars. Since then the
band has evolved with the amazing L.A. based jazz guitarist Nels
Cline taking Mac Nab’s place.
"I feel like I've found my band," said Amendola, who has a new album
with this band coming out on Cryptogramophone. "These people are
what my music is about. They are very, very strong improvisers; you
can put any piece of music in front of them and they'll make it their
own, buy they're also team players. Most of the music is about improv
- some of the songs have stricter forms, some are more open - with
this band every night the music is different."
This week the Scott Amendola Band embarks on
a west coast tour including a stop at the Avalon in Eureka Wednesday
on the first anniversary of 9-11. "When I was putting the tour together, I realized that September
11th was in the middle of it," said Amendola. "part of me thought
about avoiding the day; it’s a day that is now tragically historic.
Then I thought, ‘What else would we do?’ The question
is: Are we going to let the darkness control us? We can’t let
things like that take over our lives and live in fear. It seems like
it’s better to celebrate life. Why not have people come and
listen to music and remember whey we’re here?"