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Violinist Jamie Shadowlight brought a San Diego All Star group into Dizzy's, on Oct. 15, for a celebration of [mostly] Brazilian music, particularly that of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto.

Ably supported, though at times overwhelmed, sonically, by Mikan Zlatkovich on keyboards, Bob Magnusson on doublebass, Bob Boss on guitar and Duncan Moore on drums, Shadowlight's violin took on the role of a vocalist in the ensemble. Rarely soloing, she used her instrument to sculpt and shape the melodies.

Shadowlight has years of acoustic music experience under her belt, playing amplified, especially with drums--is a challenge she's still getting a handle on. There were times when she clearly had problems hearing herself, which made her understandably more tentative.

The violin is an expressive instrument, which depends on being able to transmit nuanced gestures--easily lost in an electrified setting.

When she played a duo with guitar, or in trio with guitar and bass, the corresponding drop in volume allowed the true beauty of her instrumental voice to be heard. She stuck with her acoustic violin on those occasions, and she's got a gorgeous tone--full of nuance--her vibrato alone is pure enough to break your heart.

Zlatkovich is a sensitive listening accompanist, who always voiced his instrument to provide a supportive cushion for the violinist--his rhythmic drive and astonishing soloing abilities were a delight to behold.

Magnusson is all about the sound. No one makes the acoustic bass sound as gorgeous as this man does.

By the time the band hit the third tune, "Photographia," the violinist had loosened up considerably, bolstered by her bandmates, she finally started leading, instead of following her ensemble. Boss snuck in a terrific solo, full of bluesy asides and clear toned strands of improvised melodic content.

On the pensive Pat Metheny ballad, "Always & Forever," the violinist hit her full stride. Using a solid-body electric, Shadowlight the musician emerged, squeezing every ounce of emotion from the yearning theme over Zlatkovich's dreamy synth pads, Magnusson's singing whole notes and Moore's hushed brush-strokes. Instant and indelible highlight.

She and Boss teamed up on the gentle Bossa Nova piece, "Eu Sei Que Vou Te Amar," and this too lingered in the ear. For the first time that evening, every tiny gesture could be absorbed from her acoustic instrument, which soared and swooped and brought anguish and joy wafting into the rafters. Boss weaved an enticing tapestry of finger-picked chord melody around the violin, maximizing her sonic potential.

A final acoustic highlight came on "Solveig's Theme," which drew out the most confident and inspired violin work of the night.

It all came together on the finale, a joyous romp through George Duke's "Festival," an upbeat samba groove. Zlatkovich laid down some delightfully funky, Joe Zawinul type vamps on his electric piano, and Boss whipped out a short solo that fused Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery ideas, while Moore took the out-vamp to a level so explosive, it's a wonder Homeland Security didn't raid the place.

When she get's an amplification set-up that she's comfortable with, or pairs down to a quieter aesthetic--look out for Jamie Shadowlight. Like any really great singer, she can tug at the heartstrings with just a few well placed notes.


Jamie Shadowlight Photo by Dennis Reiter

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