35th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 13-16 October, 2022

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio feat. Alexander von Schlippenbach


Rodrigo Amado – ts
Miguel Mira – cello
Gabriel Ferrandini – dr
Alexander von Schlippenbach – p

“Motion Trio” introduces Portuguese jazz stars that prompted the heyday of contemporary jazz in Portugal. The Lisbon free jazz and improvised music scenes were in creative ferment in the late ‘90s, bursting forth in the new millennium.

A crucial element of that growth has been “Clean Feed Records”, launched in 2001, the label becoming a beacon for international free jazz. In 2008, an online journal “All About Jazz” announced it to be Label of the Year. Amado was there at the inception.

Amado formed “Motion Trio”, his main working group featuring long-time friends and collaborators, in 2009. The critics describe the “Motion Trio” as the model of free jazz genuineness, efficiency and professionalism. The group’s vocabulary blends in the spirit of bop and the fire of free improvisation – nodding to the jazz tradition they forge a new path.

The ensemble collaborated and recorded with a number of the world’s celebrated improvisers including Jeb Bishop, Peter Evans, Steve Swell, Matthew Shipp and Larry Ochs, released six albums of which two critically acclaimed recordings with Peter Evans were released by Vilnius’ label “NoBusiness”.

In 2016, “Motion Trio” album Desire & Freedom, a studio recording without any guest musicians, turned to be an event in jazz world as was their debut album of 2009. Their return to this formation after seven years was victorious. Critics lauded Desire & Freedom as one of the strongest releases in Amado’s extensive discography. Moreover, the important publications as “The Wire Magazine” and Spanish newspaper “El País” gave it Record of the Year nomination.

“Motion trio” has been performing in such venues as “The Stone” club in New York, “Birmhuis” in Amsterdam, “SnugHarbor” in New Orleans, “Hideout” in Chicago, “Jazz House” in Copenhagen, “Café Oto” in London, “De Singer” in Antwerp, “Manufaktur” in Stuttgart.

On this tour the group shares the stage with pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, one of Europe’s jazz flagmen returning to Vilnius Jazz after 31 year.

Saxophonist Rodrigo Amado, the founder of “Motion Trio”, was for five years in a row voted as on of the best tenor saxophonists along with Evan Parker, Joe Lovano, Ken Vandermark and Chris Potter on El Itruso international critics poll, involving 50 critics and writers from 18 countries.

According to AvantMusicNews, more releases coming out that any single individual can listen to. But if one were to focus in on canonical free jazz of the modern era, Rodrigo Amado would be at the top of the queue. His contribution to jazz stands along those of tenor saxophonists like Coleman Hawkins, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Sonny Rollins and Archie Shepp.

Amado was born in Lisbon and took up the saxophone at the age 17. Later he studied briefly at the Hot Club Music School in Lisbon. He was soon playing with numerous rock, pop and experimental projects. Amado’s album recorded with the fellow saxophonist Paulo Curado and the American trio of the trombonist Steve Swell, bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi happened to be “Clean Feed Records” first release.

Not long after Amado formed the Lisbon Improvisation Players (LIP), an ever-permutating band that continues to the present. This ongoing project revealed the saxophonist’s inexhaustible possibilities and paved the way to his international acclaim.

In 2004, Amado began his collaboration with American bassist Kent Kessler and Norwegian drummer Paul Nilssen-Love. The trio’s performances and recordings earned critical acclaim. Amado’s other international formation included cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, bassist John Hebert and drummer Gerald Cleaver. With Texas trumpeter Dennis Gonzales’ group Yells and Eels he toured Eastern Europe, and with Lisbon trumpeter Luis lopes’ Humanization Quartet he performed in the USA.

Recent decade saw Amado working as a leader with “Motion Trio”, “Wire Quartet (with guitarist Manuel Mota, bassist Hernâni Faustino and drummer Ferrandini) and Hurricane trio (with Ferrandini and DJ Ride).

Last year Amado released second album (A History of Nothing) with giants of contemporary jazz Joe McPhee, Chris Corsano and Kent Kessler. This year saw a release of his collaboration with Corsano (No Place To Fall) and Gonçalo Almeida and Onno Govaert (Summer Bummer).

As a leader he has recorded over 20 albums and sided in more than 30. Amado was repeatedly reviewed in journals, newspapers and on blogs.

Cellist Miguel Mira studied the guitar, later bass at the Hot Club Music School in Lisbon. During his career, lasting four decades, Mira collaborated with a great number of Portuguese celebrities.

Besides intensive work with “Motion Trio”, the cellist appears in “The Lisbon Improvisation Players” projects, shares the stage with “Variable Geometry Orchestra” and “Iridium String Quartet”. The list of his current stage partners includes John Lucas, Joseph Bruno Parrinha, John Parrinha, João Pedro Viegas, Alipio Carvalho Neto, Ernesto Rodrigues, Armando Gonçalves Pereira, Hernani Faustino, Rodrigo Pinheiro, Zé Lencastre, Louis Desirat, Luis Lopes, Philip Sousa, Pedro Roxo, Johannes Krieger, Marcello Maggi, Paulo Curado, etc.

Drummer Gabriel Ferrandini was born in California to a Portuguese father, who grew up in Brazil, and Brazilian mother. He discovered jazz in Portugal and having developed a very personal approach to working with the sticks he has become one of the most important drummers in activity in most Western European countries.

He plays in Amado’s main groups and the LIP projects, also is a member of the renowned Lisbon-based “Red Trio”, collaborates with jazz coryphées such as Rob Mazurek, Alberto Pinton, Alfred “23” Harth, Raymond Strid and David Stacken. The stage has also brought him together with Alexander von Schlippenbach, Axel Dörner, Evan Parker, John Butcher, Nate Wooley, Peter Evans, Sten Sandell, Thurston Moore and many other luminaries.

Recently, the drummer got involved with composition, which he realises with Saxophonist Pedro Sousa and double bassist Hernâni Faustino.

Pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach, one of Europe’s premier free jazz bandleaders, started his work as a leader 50 years ago, right after graduating from the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Cologne. His trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lovens, and duo with Sven-Ake Johansson were among his first formations.

In 2016, Jazzfest Berlin festival marked the 50th anniversary of his “The Globe Unity Orchestra”. In 1988, Schlippenbach formed yet another important collective – the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra with the goal of promulgating contemporary music. The Orchestra has featured many esteemed European avant-garde jazz musicians including Evan Parker, Paul Lovens, Kenny Wheeler, Misha Mengelberg and Aki Takase.

During the ‘90s, the pianist focused on duos with Tony Oxley, Sam Rivers and Aki Takase, and in collaboration with Rudi Marhall and his group “Die Enttäuschung” started reviving the legacy of Thelonius Monk. His music is featured on many radio recordings, vinyl and CDs. Supported by the Goethe Institute he toured in Asia, Australia and the USA.

For his contributions to jazz Schlippenbach was awarded Berlin City Prize (1976), Schallplattenpreise der UDJ (1980/1981), Albert Mangelsdorff Prize (1994), the German Record Critics Award “Monks Casino” (2005), SWR-Jazz Award (2007). Two years ago he was decorated with “Bundesverdienstkreuz am Band” (Federal Cross of Merit) (2017). 

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