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When San Diego's Creedle suspended operations a decade ago, the quirky avant-rock-jazz band had streamlined down to a quartet. In 1996, the bass/drums/guitar/sax lineup released its third and final album, When the Wind Blows -- their jazziest, right down to the LP cover art.

Of those four members, saxophonist Cochemea Gastelum, who grew up in Spring Valley, has delved deepest into the jazz world. The 1990 graduate of Monte Vista High School relocated to New York City, where he has been involved in too many recording sessions and live performances to recount here.

There are fresh YouTube clips of Gastelum playing a November gig in Milan alongside jazz legends Archie Shepp (70) and Oliver Lake (65) in the small ensemble Iswhat?!, anchored by drummer Hamid Drake. Gastelum has played regularly in a couple of hot NY-based retro-soul-plus bands on the Daptone label for over two years -- the Budos Band and the Dap-Kings -- and often on the same bill.

He also played on two of 2007's most critically acclaimed albums: Version, by Brit ex-pat DJ/producer Mark Ronson, and Back to Black, the Grammy-nominated Amy Winehouse record that has scored high on many year-end lists and sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

Last Sunday found Gastelum in San Diego for the holidays and playing the first Creedle show in years.

The degree of local-scene turnover since the band's heyday was evident in the first line of new San Diego CityBeat music editor Nathan Dinsdale's gig recommendation: "I'm not going to pretend to know anything about Creedle or why this reunion show is such a big deal..."

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