“All his characters have bold personalities, and I was mindful of that when I named these cocktails.”
Joseph O'Brien 1 p.m., Feb. 22
Add Nate Jarrell to the list of top-flight San Diego jazz guitarists. His CD-release party at Architecture last night for The Next Chapter placed him in the direct lineage of guys like Mundell Lowe, Peter Sprague, Bob Boss and Jaime Valle.
Jarrell has a distinctive, clean tone, and his chops are informed and confident. He can swing, and he does it in a thoroughly modern, modally informed style. Each solo he took last night was full of ideas, and he was creative in finding ways to stretch the contours of the harmony.
His band, which has logged significant time together, were excellent in support. Former mentor, SDSU professor Rick Helzer provided a deep well of experience at the Rhodes piano, and his solos all told a story.
Doublebassist Harley Magsino seems to coming from the "old-school" aesthetic: his time is rock-solid, his tone is big and woody, and his moments in the spotlight reflected the sound of guys like Jimmy Garrison and Charlie Haden.
Jeanette Kangas on drums was consistently inventive, with a nice series of variations on the ride cymbal beat and she could turn up the heat when that was the thing to do.
Jarrell's main counterpart, however, was tenor saxophonist Peter August, who wrote several of the best tunes on The Next Chapter, handled most of the melodies in lock-step unison with the guitarist and played with a full tone and a nice blend of patience and passion. August is a guy to watch for.
The concert began with the boppish theme of "Frankie's Tune," and right out of the gates, Jarrell let loose with streams of ideas cascading over each other while maintaining an extremely legato feel. August sailed over the changes, carving curlicues around the chord structure. Helzer's Rhodes began with bell-toned single note ideas that yielded to two-handed harmonic sequences. The band vamped the tune out, allowing for Kangas to build a series of explosive accents.
At times, Jarrell is most interesting when he's just playing chords, like his cool modal comping on "The Turtles Are Racing Tonight," which supported the relaxed iterations of August, allowing them to build into an increasingly complex set of layered ideas. Magsino took a deep, throaty solo filled with slurring double-stops that almost stole the show.
All in all, Friday's set was a prime example of modern jazz guitar serving as a perfect announcement of the arrival of Nate Jarrell
Photo by Darci Fontenot