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John Reynolds Quintet by TOM HARTEN

Last night, an assemblage of some of San Diego's lesser-known jazz musicians gathered, under the aegis of trumpeter John Reynolds for a concert showcasing the music of trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

Thankfully, Reynolds and his ace quintet chose to cull from material early on in Marsalis' career--back when, in my opinion, he was doing more creative work than that which would follow.

Opening with the episodic sturm and drang of "Black Codes From The Underground," was a brave choice. One of Wynton's most complex constructs from that period, "Black Codes," rocketed on the audacious drums of Charles Weller, grounded my the muscled bass of Doug Walker. Reynolds created a clean-toned essay that navigated the changing landscape well, then tenor saxophonist Peter August took the reigns--culling short motifs and repetitions into longer ideas with his remarkably smooth tone. Pianist Paul Holtz, once he could be heard, soloed with lithe invention--but the piano was way under-present in the ensemble passages.

There were many highlights, like the stop and start drama of "Delfeayo's Dilemma" which drew out a clarion-call solo from the leader, or the gorgeous balladry of "Indelible & Nocturnal," featuring August, who's beautiful sound and melodic ingenuity reminds me a little of a cross between Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter.

"Father Time," from the very first Marsalis album, burst out of the gates with alacrity--riding on the propulsive waves of Weller's drums and the off-kilter punctuations of Holtz's harmonies. Reynolds set off streams of eighth notes into motion--then August and Weller turned up the heat for a roiling exchange.

"J-Mood," brought out the best Reynolds solo of the evening-- fat, tart, crystal clear and full of ideas.

Even though Wynton's music is not my favorite, Reynolds and his quintet made for an exciting evening. I'm looking forward to hearing him again-- perhaps celebrating the music of Don Cherry or Kenny Wheeler, or Freddie Hubbard...

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