Born: February 6, 1969 Primary Instrument: Drums
“Amendola, who played with Hunter in T.J. Kirk back in the early ’90s, is the perfect partner for the guitarist, complementing his chilled funk with fat propulsion and deft melodic accents and counterpoint that never leave the listener noticing that only two folks are making the noise.” Peter Margasak, emusic “Amendola has complete mastery of every piece of his drumset and the ability to create a plethora of sounds using sticks, brushes, mallets, and even his hands.” Steven Raphael, Modern Drummer magazine “If Scott Amendola didn't exist, the San Francisco music scene would have to invent him.” Derk Richardson, San Francisco Bay Guardian “...drummer/signal-treater Scott Amendola is both a tyrant of heavy rhythm and an electric-haired antenna for outworldly messages (not a standard combination).” Greg Burk, LA Weekly For Scott Amendola, the drum kit isn’t so much an instrument as a musical portal. As an ambitious composer, savvy bandleader and capaciously creative foil for some of the world’s most inventive musicians, Amendola applies his wide- ranging rhythmic virtuosity to a vast array of settings. His closest musical associates include guitarists Jeff Parker, Nels Cline and Charlie Hunter, Hammond B-3 organist Wil Blades, ROVA saxophonist Larry Ochs, and Tin Hat clarinetist Ben Goldberg, players who have each forged a singular path within and beyond the realm of jazz. While rooted in the San Francisco Bay Area scene, Amendola has woven a dense and far-reaching web of bandstand relationships that tie him to influential artists in jazz, blues, rock and new music. A potent creative catalyst, the Berkeley-based drummer became the nexus for a disparate community of musicians stretching from Los Angeles and Seattle to Chicago and New York. Whatever the context, Amendola possesses a gift for twisting musical genres in unexpected directions. His latest project is “ PUCKER” , the second release by his supremely funky duo with seven-string guitar wizard Charlie Hunter. Following up on 2012’s critically hailed “Not Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead”, the new project marks Hunter and Amendola’s 20th year of playing together, while opening a new frontier by focusing on the drummer’s original compositions. “What I like is that it really fits right into what we’ve been doing all along, simple music with a lot of space,” Hunter says. “Scott’s not burdened by trying to be jazzy. He’s a drummer who’s really listening to everything with big ears.” Amendola continues to tour and record with Nels Cline Singers, the volatile instrumental trio led by the legendary Wilco guitarist. The band’s new album featuring special guests Cyro Baptista, Josh Jones, Zeena Parkins and Yuka Honda, is slated for release in early 2014. “The first time I heard Scott I was really blown away,” Cline says. “There aren’t too many drummers on the West Coast who had his wide ranging ability. Scott’s got some funk in him, a looser, sexy thing going on, and the flexibility to play free and different styles. He plays behind singer/songwriters and he rocks too.” Amendola also performs widely with his other duo, the orchestral Amendola Vs Blades featuring Hammond B-3 ace Wil Blades that centers on their thrilling investigation of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s “Far East Suite. And he’s a rhythmic muse to Berkeley clarinetist/composer Ben Goldberg. It was through Goldberg’s earthy project Go Home that Amendola and Hunter rededicated themselves to a steady working relationship. They had played together briefly back in 2003 for a reunion of Grammy-nominated avant funk ‘n’ jazz combo T.J. Kirk (the guitar-centric quartet that also featured John Schott and Will Bernard). But Go Home, which was built on Amendola and Hunter’s potent rhythm section tandem, led to a series of duo gigs around Europe and the US. “It’s always s been amazing whenever we play, but it keeps growing, getting more intuitive,” Amendola says. “What Charlie does is so uncanny. He didn’t set out to create something out of some kind of marketing tool. Ultimately it’s what he heard. When you watch him play, it’s like a brain tease. It’s hard to understand what he’s doing, but when you close your eyes, it’s so beautiful and deep and compelling.” Given Amendola’s growing stature as a composer, it seems inevitable that the duo with Hunter would turn into the latest vehicle for his melodically charged tunes. He established himself as a highly effective composer writing for his five- piece Scott Amendola Band and his trio with guitarist Jeff Parker and bassist John Shifflett, but made a major leap in April 2011 with the premiere of “Fade to Orange,” a prestigious New Visions/New Vistas commission funded by the James Irvine Foundation. An evening-length collaboration with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the extended work integrated the mercurial jazz trio with Cline and muscular bassist Trevor Dunn into the orchestra. Amendola’s writing pushed the symphony into unfamiliar territory, while the process of refining and detailing his ideas on sheet music has deepened his interest in writing for his various groups. “Getting the commission propelled me into a new compositional realm, and working on it opened me up to new possibilities,” he says. “Having to write such specific things for the orchestra made me want to incorporate more of through- composed work into smaller setting. It’s also sparked a desire to work with larger ensembles. I wrote ‘Fade to Orange’ with the idea I could do it with a chamber orchestra, say 20-25 pieces.” Amendola established his reputation as a bandleader in 1999 with the release of the acclaimed album Scott Amendola Band featuring the unusual instrumentation of Eric Crystal on saxophones, Todd Sickafoose on acoustic bass, Jenny Scheinman on violin, Dave MacNab on electric guitar. By the time the quintet returned to the studio in 2003, Cline had replaced MacNab, contributing to the quintet’s combustible chemistry on the Cryptogramophone album Cry. Cline was also a crucial contributor on Amendola’s 2005 Cryptogramophone album Believe, which also features Jeff Parker, Jenny Scheinman and John Shifflett. He created his own label, SAZi Records, for his next release, 2010’s exquisite Lift, a trio session with Parker and Shifflett dedicated to his gossamer, bluesy ballads and ethereal soundscapes, with an occasional foray into surf rock deconstruction. As a sideman, Amendola has performed and recorded with a vast, stylistically varied roster of artists, including Bill Frisell, John Zorn, Mike Patton, Wadada Leo Smith, Madeleine Peyroux, Joan Osborne, Rodney Crowell, Jacky Terrasson, Shweta Jhaveri, Larry Goldings, Sex Mob, Kelly Joe Phelps, Larry Klein, Darryl Johnson, Dave Liebman, Carla Bozulich, Robin Holcomb, Wayne Horvitz, Johnny Griffin, Viktor Krauss, Julian Priester, Jessica Lurie, Sonny Simmons, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Pat Martino, Peter Apfelbaum, Jim Campilongo, Will Bernard, Bobby Black, Paul McCandless, Noe Venable, Mark Turner, and the Joe Goode Dance Group. Born and raised in the New Jersey suburb of Tenafly, just a stone’s throw from New York City, Amendola displayed an aptitude for rhythm almost from the moment he could walk. His grandfather, Tony Gottuso, was a highly respected guitarist who performed with jazz luminaries such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Nat “King” Cole. A member of the original Tonight Show Band under Steve Allen, he offered plenty of support when Amendola began to get interested in jazz. “We used to play together a lot when I was a teenager,” Amendola says. “It had a huge impact on me to play with someone who was around when a lot of the standards that musicians like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Keith Jarrett play were written.” His passion for music only deepened during his four years at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where it wasn’t unusual for him to practice for 12 hours a day. Drawing inspiration from fellow students such as Jorge Rossi, Jim Black, Danilo Perez, Chris Cheek, and Mark Turner, and studying with the likes of Joe Hunt and Tommy Campbell, Amendola decided he had to find his own voice rather than modeling himself after established drummers. After graduating in 1992, he decided to move to San Francisco, where he quickly hooked up with Charlie Hunter. They went on to play together in the three-guitar- and-drums combo T.J. Kirk, which earned a Grammy nomination for its eponymous 1996 debut album. Their musical is one of the strongest threads running through Amendola’s career. “Ever since I played with my grandfather I’ve just really loved the guitar and I wanted to meet a young guitar player who was doing something different, Amendola says. And you can’t get more different than what Charlie’s doing.” While many of the Northern California players Amendola has forged deep ties with have moved to New York, the drummer feels he’s found the perfect environment in the San Francisco Bay Area. With creative relationships spreading out across the country, and the world, he’s never more than one degree away from a powerful musical hook-up.
Source: Andrew Gilbert
Amendola, who played with Hunter in T.J. Kirk back in the early ’90s, is the perfect partner for the guitarist, complementing his chilled funk with fat propulsion and deft melodic accents and counterpoint that never leave the listener noticing that only two folks are making the noise. —Peter Margasak, emusic
“Amendola has complete mastery of every piece of his drumset and the ability to create a plethora of sounds using sticks, brushes, mallets, and even his hands.” —Steven Raphael, Modern Drummer magazine
If Scott Amendola didn't exist, the San Francisco music scene would have to invent him. —Derk Richardson, San Francisco Bay Guardian
“...drummer/signal-treater Scott Amendola is both a tyrant of heavy rhythm and an electric-haired antenna for outworldly messages (not a standard combination). —Greg Burk, LA Weekly