Portuguese sax hero Rodrigo Amado employs his bands for deep dives into his own formative roots, but at the same time uses these bands to suggest a journey within his open-minded and inclusive sonic vision of jazz as a living, bold and hard-kicking tradition. The supergroup The Bridge – Amado on tenor sax, German pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach (who played before with Amado’s Motion Trio, The Field, NoBusiness, 2021), Norwegian double bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and American drummer Gerry Hemingway represents perfectly this kind of ambitious vision. The name of the quartet is, naturally, a direct homage to Amado’s seminal hero Sonny Rollins and his iconic comeback album (RCA Victor, 1962), but also offers a strong determination to establish a connection- a bridge – between different languages, backgrounds and generations. All are united through improvisation, and a need to push things forward with a remarkable sense of purpose, clarity and depth, discipline and balance. The cover artwork of Miguel Navas – «#122», from the series «Uncertain Smile – Paisagens de um tempo incerto» (Landscapes of an uncertain time) corresponds beautifully with the spirit of the album.
Beyond The Margins was recorded live at Pardon To Tu club in Warsaw in October 2022 during The Bridge’s first-ever two performances. The performance opens with the epic 40-minute, title piece. It is a magnificent showcase of wise and exciting, powerful and stimulating free improvisation. It has a slow-burning spirit with many meandering courses that are weaved perfectly and organically, articulated with determination and patience into a multilayered texture, with enough space for personal initiatives and with collective and democratic dynamics. The Bridge plays as a tight unit but also with an open, loose vibe, and with an exceptional synergy, with surprise and invention, color and imagination. And, obviously, you can hear in von Schlippenbach playing his familiar manic repetitive clusters, sparse counterpoint and the quirky Monk-isms, and in Amado’s playing the echoes of the big tenorists, and not only his formative influence, Sonny Rollins, or another legendary sax player, Joe McPhee, who plays in Amado’s This Is Our Language Quartet.
The shorter «Personal Mountains» (no connection to Keith Jarrett’s piece by the same name with his Scandinavian quartet) is a more structured and urgent improvisation that cements the Monk-ish aspects in The Bridge dynamics. This masterful performance is closed with «(Visiting) Ghosts», Albert Ayler’s seminal piece, with The Bridge evoking Ayler’s emotional cry with every breath and sound, and insisting that music – bold, powerful and imaginative as the one of Amado, von Schlippenbach, Håker Flaten and Hemingway – is the healing force of the universe. You can not ask for more.
Rodrigo Amado (tenor saxophone), Alexander Von Schlippenbach (piano), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (double bass), Gerry Hemingway (drums)