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Alto saxophonist David Negrete returned to San Diego last night with Tribe of D, a quartet featuring NYC bassist Danny Weller, local piano hero Joshua White and LA drummer Dan Schnelle for a long set of riveting and spiritual, original modal jazz.

As White set a series of tremolos into motion, Negrete pursed long, plaintive strokes of melody and established a heavy Coltrane groove to open "When I See The Dream, I Understand." Negrete has a warm tone and sound, balanced between an acidic edge and velvet pillows, and, as the tune evolved into a groove compendium, he and White stirred up a delicious tension of long tones against chameleonic harmony. The pianist upped the ante in his solo with shifting repetitions and powerful clusters as Weller and Schnelle charted his degrees of volume and intensity like dynamic cartographers.

On "Surveying," Negrete built slow waves of spiraling melodies while White kept the fires stoked with startling hammered notes and exponential expansion on short themes conceived in the moment.

The super melodic "Folk Song," brought a feeling of gospel-inspired Americana that had Weller coming to the forefront, carving off sculpted notes of poignant quavers before triggering velocity into a remarkable bit of storytelling.

White began "Takao," with misty clouds of harmony as Negrete posited a gorgeous theme in a tone that brought Jan Garbarek to mind--winding thematic curlicues into soaring arcs supported by the joyous lift of White's accompaniment. The band seemed to create an entirely new piece at the end, feeding each other spontaneous cues.

As an extra treat, the saxophonist's brother Steven joined the group on the hang a percussion instrument similar to a steel pan and looking like a small barbecue (or a miniature flying saucer), evoking a hypnotic, kalimba-like texture that drew the band into a communal exchange. Weller surfaced, alone, with a bass solo full of flamenco-like strumming and pregnant double-stops that reminded me of the great Jimmy Garrison.

Beautiful, original music played by some of the country's finest young musicians. Hard to top that.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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