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Scott Amendola Band: Believe

Scott Amendola Band: Believe


By Al Shipley | Posted 8/10/2005

Los Angeles guitarist Nels Cline’s profile has steadily risen in the past decade through his affiliation with alt-rock bands such as the Geraldine Fibbers and more recently Wilco, even landing on the cover of Guitar Player magazine earlier this year. But he’s concurrently maintained his roots in California’s tightly knit jazz and experimental music community, constantly recording with an extended family of collaborators. Bay Area drummer Scott Amendola, who first found acclaim as a member of the Charlie Hunter Quartet, has in recent years become an active member of Cline’s circle, joining his instrumental trio the Nels Cline Singers. And Cline in turn is a frequent participant in the revolving lineup of the Scott Amendola Band.

On the Scott Amendola Band’s third album, Believe, the saxophones of previous releases are gone in favor of highlighting an ensemble of strings, including guitarist Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217) and violinist Jenny Scheinman (Bill Frisell, Norah Jones). Amendola is a generous bandleader, writing melodic arrangements that showcase his band mates’ instruments far more often than his own percussion. And Cline is given ample opportunity to defy his reputation as a noisemaker with delicate 12-string and lap-steel guitar performances. Amendola’s compositions flirt with Afrobeat rhythms on “Oladipo,” dedicated to Fela Kuti drummer Tony Oladipo Allen, and with wooly Neil Young-style guitar jams on “Buffalo Bird Woman.” But no stylistic turn feels unwelcome, even the jarring loops and electronics of “Resistance.” If anything, Believe could use more moments like that song’s abrasive crescendo to keep it from becoming just a particularly arty easy-listening experience.

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