SCOTT AMENDOLA BAND | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Like most jazz drummers, San Francisco's Scott Amendola is usually thought of as a sideman, and over the last decade and a half he's filled that role well for T.J. Kirk, the Charlie Hunter Quartet, and the Nels Cline Singers, among many others. But his albums with the Scott Amendola Band make it clear that he's also an exceptional composer and arranger. The most recent, Believe (Cryptogramophone, 2005), is the best, featuring a stellar cast that interprets his material with remarkable sensitivity and imagination. Guitarists Nels Cline and Jeff Parker make a simpatico team, devising between them an ever-shifting blend of melody and texture, distortion and clarity, space and density; and violinist Jenny Scheinman brings a wonderful rural twang to Amendola's tunes, which draw on country at least as much as they do on bebop. Rounded out by bassist John Shifflett, the band dispenses with the predictable sequence of melody statement followed by a string of solos, instead creating gorgeous ensemble pieces that erupt organically into improvisation, from the Sonny Sharrock-meets-Tortoise acrobatics of "Shady" to the pure Neil Young/Crazy Horse stomp of "Buffalo Bird Woman." a 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10, $8 in advance.

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