Scott Marks noon, Feb. 22
Standing Room Only for In Motion Trio/The Mattson 2
Last Sunday night, Dizzy's hosted a rare double bill featuring two of San Diego's hottest jazz attractions-- In Motion Trio, and The Mattson 2.
Curiously enough, the In Motion Trio was actually a septet, ( four auxiliary musicians), and the Mattson 2 included local tenor saxophonist Ian Tordella for most of their set.
Club owners should be aware, both of these groups can pack a venue with youthful, enthusiastic fans. Dizzy's was filled to capacity, plus a dozen or so patrons who watched from outside.
Neither group plays straight up jazz in the traditional sense--the In Motion Trio aims for a jazz-rock synthesis of elements from jam band and Afrobeat influences, and the Mattson 2 have developed a unique instrumental fusion that has drawn a huge following from the surfing / skateboard community.
In Motion Trio (plus four)
This group features young, but expert musicians in their late teens and early twenties. The core players : Dillon Casey, (former student of Peter Sprague)- on guitar, bassist Tim McNalley, (just out of high-school), tenor saxophonist Joe Harrison, keyboardist / percussionist Evan Penza, and founder Jeff Wilson on drums.
Augmenting the ensemble was an additional guitarist /percussionist and baritone /alto saxophonist-- the names of whom, regrettably, I did not catch.
Both guitarists were excellent, with Casey having the more overtly jazzy ideas. The addition of the baritone saxophone gave the group a deliciously weighty swagger, and almost all of the musicians doubled on some sort of percussion.
Harrison got the lion's share of the solos on tenor and flute, and he was especially interesting when he gravitated to the altissimo register of his horn with some well placed squeals.
It should be noted that the In Motion Trio recently won the San Diego Music Awards "Best Jazz" honors, which to be frank, is a little premature. Individually, each member is loaded with talent and potential, and as a group they figure to hone their improvising aesthetic every time they play.
The Mattson 2, + Ian Tordella
The Mattson's are UCSD alumni, where they studied with heavyweights like bassist Mark Dresser, saxophonist David Borgo, pianist / composer Anthony Davis, pianist / composer Kemau Kenyatta, and percussionist Steven Schick.
The twin brothers have already established international careers by carving out their own personal instrumental music dynamic.
Often called "surf-jazz" because of the highly melodic, reverb-drenched nature of their original tunes, the Mattson 2 create memorable melodies that are often episodic, even cinematic in performance. Indeed, one could easily imagine their tunes peppering the soundtrack of a Quinton Tarantino movie.
Jared Mattson plays the guitar, and you can hear a lot of Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell in his style. He also claims Johnny Marr of the British pop-band The Smiths as a prime influence.
Brother Jonathon's instrument is the drums, and he is able to respond to the often quirky machinations of Jared with that infamous "twin-intuition" empathy.
The Mattson 2, coming straight off of a West Coast tour, were primed, tight and ready to rock.
Opening with "Pleasure Point", from their brand new CD, Feeling Hands, Jared looped a bass line from his Telestar double-neck, then layered melodies and rhythms on top with an astonishing ease.
Tordella joined the two for "Black Rain" and "Ode To Lou", and made excellent contributions. They ought to think about adding him to the group, because he takes their music up a notch, and seems to be a perfect foil. He ran his tenor sax through a mixer, amplifier and wah-wah pedal...and it worked!
Jared interlaces his melodic content with exquisite chord voicings that hang in the air like clouds of harmonic joy. His solos were chock full of chops and exuberance.
Jonathon took two drum solos that brought the house down, and reminded me of an Ed Blackwell meets Joe Chambers encounter. This guy has serious percussive abilities.
Closing with "Spaceman 2" and "Chi Nine" from the new album, the Mattson 2 + 1 rocked harder than Chinese math and earned the thunderous applause from the capacity crowd.
photo of In Motion Trio by David Harrison ; all others by Trine Bell