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Three of San Diego's finest musicians/composers combined their considerable skills for a collaborative effort Saturday night at 98 Bottles. Tenor saxophonist Brian Levy, pianist Mikan Zlatkovich, and trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, took the stage, supported by bassist Dave Marr and drummer Duncan Moore.

The idea was to showcase each of the leader's compositions--and that worked out fine--but to me, the way they approached the opening, "warm-up" tune took things to a level of listening pleasure I rarely witness.The loose groove and perfect tempo of "Gone With The Wind," motored along like a bebop cruise ship-- this was what jazz is supposed to sound like--when 5 masters let it fly.

Levy and Castellanos blend very well together, and bring out the best in each other, solo wise. Zlatkovich swings his ass off, and it was a special treat to hear Marr for the first time in many years. Even though he was too low in the mix, his sure, Percy Heath type groove was a constant delight--and Moore seemed particularly energized all night.

The trumpeter's "El Camino," led off the originals--busting out with a '60s Blue Note swagger, Castellanos amazed with serpentine improvisations conducted at the speed of light, while Levy compressed and stretched the time feel based on the density of his super-charged lines. As each soloist neared his zenith, Moore would send them grappling toward a new height --using his snare drum like a cattle-prod.

Zlatkovich's "Chick's Tune," had all of the hallmarks of Corea's '80s work -- and it spun along on the remarkably intricate subdivisions of Moore's ride cymbal. The pianist's solo was full of joyous invention that seemed to go everywhere at once.

These guys have a magical connection--they should do this kind of thing more often.

Photo by Jamie Shadowlight

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