Scott Amendola Band
Empty Bottle; Sat 3
While best known for grooving with gee-whiz jazz prodigy Charlie Hunter, drummer Scott Amendola has been a Bay Area creative music stalwart since the early 1990s. Outside of Hunter’s quartet, he’s been a first-call sideman for Madeleine Peyroux and taken it out with countless freethinking improvisers. Backing the Geraldine Fibbers’ Carla Bozulich hooked him up with avant-wunderkind Nels Cline, whom he accompanies during the guitar-mangler’s time off from Wilco. With a schedule like that, it’s amazing that Amendola finds time to lead his own band, composing material that consistently earns the high praise of not sounding like it was written by a drummer.
Ditching the jazzier sax and piano of earlier albums, last year’s Believe (Cryptogramophone) took an edgy turn, thanks to the six-string presence of both Cline and local Tortoise/AACM mainstay Jeff Parker. Amendola introduced his old Berklee classmate Parker to Cline at a San Francisco Tortoise show a few years ago. The pair clicked immediately, and while the ensuing dynamic duo turned heads at last summer’s Pitchfork Festival, it has an ideal arena to cut loose in here, with Amendola’s hard-swinging Afrobeat-inspired propulsion behind it.
Genre-hopping all-star fiddler Jenny Scheinman (a vet of both Norah Jones and Marc Ribot’s bands) blends sublimely with the chameleonic guitars, as they veer comfortably between the pastoral explorations of Bill Frisell and the glitchy fusion of Isotope 217. Amendola introduces subtle chaos with loopy electronics, but the strength of the tunes keeps them from slipping into sound for sound’s sake. This show is one of their first live dates together, and it should be a treat, especially in contrast to Cline’s usual mannered restraint with his other band.—Ben Taylor