Rodrigo Amado/Chris Corsano

No Place to Fall
Astral Spirits/Monfonus Press MF207/AS103

The Attic

Summer Bummer

NoBusiness Records CD 117

One of the very few Portuguese improvisers known beyond the country’s borders, Lisbon-based tenor saxophonist Rodrigo Amado has also made common cause with players in both Europe and North America as these sessions attest. Recorded in 2014, No Place to Fall is an all-out Free Music display with the saxophonist duetting with American drummer Chris Corsano. More meditative and relaxed, Summer Bummer jumps forward four years for a trio of tracks recorded with Dutch drummer Onno Govaert and Rotterdam-based Portuguese bassist Gonçalo Almeida.

Constantly in motion during the first CD’s five tracks, Corsano, whose high intensity percussion strategies have backed everyone from Joe McPhee to Björk, exposes jumps, rolls and rumbles textures at various times and faces a contrapuntal broken octave challenge from the snarls, smears, honks and soaring flutter tones of Amado sax. Just as, for instance, the drummer ends “Announcement” with repeated smash cymbal variations, so Amado settles on repetative overblowing. Often worrying the same split tone pattern with the ferocity of a dog chomping on a bone is evidentially one of the saxophonist’s preferred tropes. Not that delicacy is completely ignored. For example there’s an extended lower case and mid-range exposition on “Don’t Take It Too Bad”, although it’s surrounded by the first expression of the ambulatory theme via the saxophonist’s fluid triple tonguing and the drummer’s ruffs and paradiddles. Plus the climax and finale is stretched with tongue-stopping pressure and timbres splintered through diaphragm pitch vibratos. The date even concludes with brief reed shrieks and slurps quieted to fluid horizontal tones, pitched in near alto range plus final connective drum top sweeps from Corsano.

Showpiece of the set however is the title track. Beginning with a capella reed bites and glossolalia from Amado the smears and squeaks swell to an energetic, seemingly unstoppable exposition, When Corsano enters with rolling pulsations after a couple of minutes, the remaining sequences involve the drummer’s swift smashes as the saxophonist attains so many spraying multiphonics, foghorn honks and tongue jujitsu that it appears that the parameters of the track can barely contain them.

Four years on, drum rolls and double bass vibrations at a slower-than-walking pace steady the saxophonist’s initial pressurized interface. However mid-way through the first of the three live tracks as bass string strains intensify to more rhythmic thrusts so does Amado’s output. Stuttering single notes ascend from mid-range moderato to doubled trills and distinctive flutters. Eventually the pitch and tempo doubles and to the accompaniment of arranged plops from Govaert, who has worked with John Dikeman, the saxophonist churns out altissimo screams and downwards slurs into a timbre-blender of disintegrated tone shards with the drummer’s cymbal whacks punctuate the program as the bassist maintains the pulse.

From that point on The Attic outputs tripartite timbres that encompass all sort of spurts, flutters, smashes and plops with sequences broken down into tinier and timer challenges and united into throbbing well-paced themes. The concluding “Aimless At the Beach” synthesizes all these tropes into a heightened instance of blossoming tones that are pulled to their limits by Amado, as he’s seconded by jerky sweeps from Almeida and power thunks from Govaert. Finally the piece climaxes in a display of flowing saxophone split tones that approximate the noise and speed of a dot-matrix printer. Blending these crying vibrations with repeated muscular tones, Amado honks triumphantly to the end.

Here are two more instances as to why this tough tenor`s style has ambled out of the hills and twisting streets of Lisbon.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: No: 1. Announcement 2. Don't Take It Too Bad 3. No Place to Fall 4. Into the Valley 5. We’ll Be Here in the Morning

Personnel: No: Rodrigo Amado (tenor saxophone) and Chris Corsano (drums)

Track Listing: Summer: 1. Walking Metamorphosis 2. Free For All 3. Aimless At the Beach

Personnel: Summer: Rodrigo Amado (tenor saxophone); Gonçalo Almeida (bass) and Onno Govaert (drums)