Veteran bassist Henry Franklin's quartet is loaded with ringers. Saxophonist Azar Lawrence has long been a star with a c.v. that includes employment with the legendary McCoy Tyner. Pianist Theo Saunders's virtuosity is both brawny and lyrical. Ramon Banda on drums was a new name to me but one I'll remember now. Local hero Gilbert Castellanos sat in comfortably; it was obvious he'd jammed with the band before.
This group is intent on providing a continuum of the legacy of the John Coltrane Quartet. Easier said than done, but they do it well. To that end, the concert began with a 20-minute version of Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament," featuring solos from Lawrence, Saunders, and Franklin. A crowd favorite was their interpretation of "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" with a soprano sax solo from Lawrence. On ballads like "Dedicated to You," the band's ability for profound solos at a slow tempo soared where younger musicians often fizzle. They closed with a rousing take on Coltrane's "Moment's Notice." If you missed this event, jazz fan, go ahead and kick yourself.
- Concert: Henry Franklin Quartet
- Show date: February 9
- Venue: San Diego City College Theater
- Seats: 10th row, dead center