Monday 6 March 2017, 7.30pm

Photo by Nuno Martins

Rodrigo Amado / Joe McPhee / Kent Kessler / Chris Corsano (quartet)

Rodrigo Amado / tenor saxophone
Joe McPhee / pocket trumpet, alto saxophone
Kent Kessler / double bass
Chris Corsano / drums

Portugese saxophonist Rodrigo Amado makes a welcome return to OTO alongside the all-star quartet with whom he recorded 2015's raptuously-received This Is Our Language.

“This Is Our Language is a natural extension of the similarly titled This Is Our Music by the Ornette Coleman Quartet (Atlantic, 1961). Amado’s group enjoys the same clairvoyant chemistry as Coleman’s did, and are no less equipped to deliver their message. Amado et al. summarize and expound upon the fifty-odd years of achievements in free jazz that have passed since Coleman’s opus.” – Peter Gough, Free Jazz Blog

“It’s astonishing what such an aggregation of individualists can achieve when they’re collectively steeped in a common language, when they can reformulate its syntax with such spontaneity and depth of feeling.” – Dalston Sound on ‘This Is Our Language’

Joe McPhee

Since his emergence on the creative jazz and new music scene in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Joe McPhee has been a deeply emotional composer, improviser, and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a thoughtful conceptualist and theoretician. 

McPhee’s first recordings as leader appeared on the CjR label, founded in 1969 by painter Craig Johnson . These include Underground Railroad by the Joe McPhee Quartet in 1969, Nation Time by Joe McPhee in 1970, and Trinity by Joe McPhee, Harold E. Smith and Mike Kull in 1971. 

By 1974, Swiss entrepreneur Werner X. Uehlinger had become aware of McPhee’s recordings and unreleased tapes. Uehlinger was so impressed that he decided to form the Hat Hut label as a vehicle to release McPhee’s work. The label’s first LP was Black Magic Man, which had been recorded by McPhee in 1970. Black Magic Man was followed by The Willisau Concert and the landmark solo recording Tenor, released by Hat Hut in 1976. The earliest recordings by McPhee are often informed by the revolutionary movements of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s; for example, Nation Time is a tribute to poet Amiri Baraka and Joe McPhee & Survival Unit II at WBAI’s Free Music Store, 1971 (finally released as a Hat Art CD in 1996) is a sometimes anguished post-Coltrane cry for freedom. 

During the 1990’s, McPhee finally began to attract wider attention from the North American creative jazz community. He has since been performing and recording prodigiously as both leader and collaborator, appearing on such labels as CIMP, Okkadisk, Music & Arts, and Victo. In 1996, 20 years after Tenor, Hatology released As Serious As Your Life, another solo recording (this time featuring McPhee performing on various instruments). McPhee also began a fruitful relationship with Chicago reedman Ken Vandermark , engaging in a set of improvisational dialogues with Vandermark and bassist Kent Kessler on the 1998 Okkadisk CD A Meeting in Chicago. The Vandermark connection also led to McPhee’s appearance on the Peter BrotzmanChicagoOctet/Tentet three-CD box set released by Okkadisk that same year. As the 1990s drew to a close, McPhee discovered two like-minded improvisers in bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen- TRIO X. 

"He is a stellar improviser, relishing his sound materials so caringly and for so long, the kind of player that invites you to really step outside of whatever mix you're and think and feel for a while." Hank Shteamer, Dark Forces Swing Blind Punches 

Chris Corsano

Chris Corsano is one of the greatest drummers working today. He has developed a percussive language of extraordinary amplitude and infinite resources. His collaborations stretch from free jazz greats (Joe McPhee, Paul Flaherty & more) to noise mavens (Bill Nace, C Spencer Yeh etc) and pop superstars (Björk). Capable of generating narrative out of permanent ecstasy, Corsano never ceases to be profoundly affirmative and imposing of his language, and being an absolute and charismatic virtuoso, he simultaneously is one of the most noble and generous improvisers of the few last decades. 

Rodrigo Amado

“At the shifting boundary between free jazz and improvised music, Rodrigo Amado’s position is clear: he plays jazz. He is so clearly a jazz musician that he doesn’t require any pre-determined elements of rhythm, harmony, chorus lengths or melody to play jazz. There’s a rhythmic impetus, a bite in his sound, part grain, part beat, and it drives his lines forward, a sound and an impulse that are part him and part history, a fundamental impress on the world that tenor saxophonists like Coleman Hawkins, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Archie Shepp have been making for generations. On his CD Searching for Adam, Rodrigo Amado quotes another saxophonist, Sam Rivers: “Freedom does not mean unconditional renunciation of melody and rhythm, but the freedom of being able to choose what I want to play” It’s a fitting credo for Amado, whose music dances across the boundaries of free jazz and improvised music. There’s rarely a theme in earshot, but there’s an abundance of energized particles and a strongly focused voice. In the past decade, he has matched impulses with a series of international partners while building distinctive Lisbon bands like Motion Trio or the Wire Quartet. Amado is an emerging master of a great tradition, more apparent with each new recording or performance.” - Stuart Broomer