Amendola vs. Blades – Greatest Hits (2016)

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Two of the finest groove constructors of the San Francisco Bay Area have combined forces for years. And now, it’s all on record, thanks to a fan-funded crowdfunding initiative. The cheekily titled Greatest Hits is the debut album by acclaimed Nels Cline Singers drummer Scott Amendola and a guy who Dr. Lonnie Smith calls “the future” of the Hammond B3 organ, Wil Blades.

Recorded last year to a receptive crowd at the Deunde Restaurant & Bodega in Oakland, the theme of Greatest Hits is simply two guys having a ball playing their own tunes in whatever the hell style they want to play. Turns out, they’re mighty versed at a lot of styles but the funk finds its way into all of ’em.

It’s not even so much the talent at hand, but how they put it together: For “Lima Bean,” Blades’ bass pedals syncopate with Amendola’s boogaloo beat in a way the resembles a horn line more so than a conventional organ one, and his hands are playing within a nice, wide pocket. “Slow Zig,” another Amendola product, is, yes, slow but sizzles, as both playing with muscularity. Blades later moves over to clavinet as Amendola detonates his drum kit.

Blades does his own incendiary work on the B3 with his composition “Addis,” mixing it up nicely between the organ and clavinet on “32nd Street” and brings a solemn church invocation to “Deep Eyes.”

“Mae Mae” is a spicy, ambling Crescent City gumbo with Blades’ clavinet doing a convincing impersonation of a wah-wah guitar where Amendola’s solo spot is a virtual tribute to Ziggy Modeliste (come to think of it, “Slow Zig” may have intended the same sort of tribute). “Oladipo” wraps everything up in a monstrous rolling, jamming groove.

Sometimes it just ridiculous how much sonic space Scott Amendola and Wil Blades alone can fill up in a room. Freakishly funky and soul satisfying, this dynamic duo push the limits on their Greatest Hits, while having too much fun doing it.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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