Didn't I just see Nels Cline play a show a little while ago? Actually, isn't that the case with nearly every musician mentioned in this blog? You don't have to answer that.
The Scott Amendola Band/The Jim Campilongo Electric Trio, Cafe du Nord, July 7, 2008: As usual, I'll try to keep this short; if you want an account of tonight's show by someone who actually understands jazz, you'll have to look elsewhere. But for surface recollections, you've come to the right place.
The man of the evening was Scott Amendola, who played drums with both co-headliners, accompanied by John Shifflett on bass in the two instances, as well. With the Jim Campilongo Electric Trio, Scott took a more traditional turn, anchoring Jim's bluesy, honky-tonk-leaning compositions, which were as fun as all get-out. I can't remember the names of the songs, but I loved an especially Dick Dale-sounding work that made me long for a touch of wind and surf in the sauna-like confines of Cafe du Nord.
After a short break, Scott returned with his namesake band, complete with two guitarists: Nels Cline and Jeff Parker. I'd seen variations on this configuration a few years ago, as well as last fall, but that didn't necessarily mean we were in for a repeat of either performance.
As it turned out, the show more closely resembled the concert from a few years ago, though with Jeff Parker instead of Jenny Scheinman facing off against Nels, in that they mostly stuck with Scott's works. They started off with a trio of tunes from the group's album Believe: the title track, "Cesar Chavez," and "Resistance" all melding into each other for a resounding demonstration of the players' range. From the ethereal to the funky to the abstract, they covered it all.
On the heels of the salutatory medley, Nels and Jeff Parker kicked off "Shady" with complementary but competing licks. I couldn't catch the name of the song that followed, but they closed out the first part of their set with "Oladipo," which came across like the soundtrack to some '70s cop drama, albeit with massive amounts of electronic manipulation and guitar flagellation thrown in.
Jim returned for the second half of their set, which began with a work in progress called "Lima Bean" that was as playful as its name might indicate. Here, they made use of the triple-guitar possibilities, as each artisan contributed his distinct take on the bouncy melody. Before the night was over, they also eased out something called "Lullaby," complete with tinkling bells and liquid chords. I believe they closed out with "No Fly" from the Nels Cline Singers, but don't hold me to it. Regardless, it was a scorcher, even in perpetually chilly San Francisco.
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