Portuguese sax hero Rodrigo Amado’s This Is Our Language quartet features some of the most exciting voices in today’s free music – Amado on tenor sax, the one and only Joe McPhee on pocket trumpet, soprano sax and PVC pipe, double bass player Kent Kessler and drummer Chris Corsano. The title of the album, as well as the name of the four pieces, capture the essence and the spirit of this music of this great quartet – fiery and focused but also introspective and most humane, resisting conventional narratives but always coherent and remarkably poetic, and, naturally, demanding deep and attentive listening.
«Let The Free Be Men», the third album of the quartet, was recorded on the same European tour that produced the previous album of the quartet, the studio recording «A History of Nothing» (Trost, 2018), and sounds like a natural evolution in its adventurous journey. «Let The Free Be Men» was recorded live at the Jazzhouse club in Copenhagen in March 2017, obviously, drawing energy from an enthusiastic audience but sounds as if it was recorded in the studio.
The four pieces suggest distinct dynamics. The opening one «Resist!» is developed patiently, first by the rolling drumming of Corsano, soon joined by the urgent bowing of Kessler’s bass, and both form a loose pulse. When Amado and McPhee begin to sing together they simply set the interplay on fire, extending and expanding each other’s restless ideas, and cementing an unstoppable, massive pulse. The title piece is totally different – melancholic contemplative and reserved, almost chamber one, with slow-cooking dynamics. It highlights the poetic conversational interplay of Amado and McPhee and the sparse and sensitive support of Kessler and Corsano, but later it settles on a powerful, collective pulse that again demonstrates how the intense energy of this quartet ignites and bursts instantly.
«Men Is Woman Is Man» is another introspective piece, beginning with McPhee playing the didgeridoo-like, PVC pipe, answered by drone-like gestures of Amado and Kessler. But when McPhee picks the pocket trumpet the atmosphere becomes urgent and nervous, and open for sudden twists and detours. The last piece «Never Surrender» again adopts the slow-cooking and subtle approach where Kessler’s bass and Corsano’s drums patiently cook loose rhythmic patterns, enabling McPhee and Amado to offer another poetic, beautiful interwoven melodies, explore the sonorities of their tenor and soprano saxes, and eventually to conclude charismatic and compelling solos.
«Let The Free Be Men» is one of these rare albums that your life may feel poor without them.
Rodrigo Amado (ts), Joe McPhee (pocket tp, ss, PVC pipe), Kent Kessler (b), Chris Corsano (dr)