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Scott Amendola: Belief Systems

Scott Amendola

Scott Amendola’s latest album is called Believe (Cryptogramophone), but the Oakland-based drummer has been making dedicated converts for more than a decade now. Since first gaining national attention with Charlie Hunter in the mid-1990s, Amendola has established himself as a vital creative presence on the West Coast, bridging improvised-music scenes from Los Angeles and Seattle to Chicago, New York and beyond. A supremely flexible musician, he has thrived in a wide array of musical settings, from spacious electronic soundscapes to insistently grooving organ combos. His new release documents some of his most bracing writing yet, combining long, lean lines with crackling guitar work and his judicious use of pedal board-generated noise, distortion and real-time percussion samples. Featuring two of the drummer’s longtime collaborators, guitarist Nels Cline and violinist Jenny Scheinman, along with Bay Area bassist John Shifflett and Chicago-based guitarist Jeff Parker, Believe alternates between extended Neil Young-ish anthems and gorgeous West Coast jazz sonorities.

“I feel like my whole thing as a leader has been about trying to put all this stuff together,” Amendola says. “This band is just strings and percussion-myself with acoustic bass, violin and two guitars. Without the saxophone it took a certain jazz element out, but then Jeff is really a jazz player with an experimental side. Everybody was into the whole range of sounds-the jazz thing, the noise thing-yet it’s also really melodic.”

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