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Faces to watch 2010: Scott Amendola

December 29, 2009 | 12:50 pm



Even if Scott Amendola's name doesn't immediately ring a bell, chances are pretty good jazz listeners have heard his work in recent years. Coming out of the adventurous San Francisco jazz scene of the mid-'90s, Amendola first gained notice as part of eight-string guitarist Charlie Hunter's band and the eclectic three-guitar jazz-funk group T.J. Kirk.

Since then he's earned a reputation as one of the most inventive young drummers in the business, teaming with a diverse range of high-profile acts including Bill Frisell, Kelly Joe Phelps and Madeleine Peyroux. But it's his association with local guitarist Nels Cline that has brought him to new heights. In addition to providing an orchestra of electronics-dusted percussion for the genre-defying (and all-instrumental) Nels Cline Singers, Amendola also released a pair of beautiful, folk-informed albums as a bandleader for the Culver City label Cryptogramophone, "Cry" (2003) and "Believe" (2005).

After 2009 found him effortlessly shifting from the sonic experiments of the Singers and the playfully twisted interpretations of the trio Plays Monk at the Angel City Jazz Festival, Amendola is on the verge of becoming a genre unto himself at only 40 years old.

In November he reunited with Hunter on the warmly melodic project "Go Home," and in 2010 Amendola will release an as-yet-untitled trio recording backed by Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist John Shifflett. Amendola is targeting a spring release, and is putting out the album on his own Sazi Records, which also will digitally reissue some of his older material.

Other upcoming projects include a 2010 release from the Singers, and writing a piece commissioned by the Oakland East Bay Symphony as part of its "New Visions/New Vistas" project that will debut in 2011.

With a tireless, ever-exploring work ethic and a gift for composition that incorporates touches of folk and world music into a unique whole, Amendola is leading West Coast jazz into its next decade.

-- Chris Barton 

More Faces:

Faces to Watch in 2010: Architecture

Faces to Watch in 2010: Theater

Faces to watch in 2010: Classical

Faces to watch 2010: Dum Dum Girls

Faces to watch 2010: The Living Sisters

Faces to watch 2010: Ke$ha

Faces to watch 2010: The Soft Pack

Faces of 2010: Entertainment (film, music, TV, new media)

Photo: Lenny Gonzalez