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Thursday night's double-concert show at The Loft was a fascinating glimpse into the early expressions of a young band just starting out, and the further development of a group hitting its stride.

Dangond Giordano Quartet

They go by DGQ, and the group consists of up and coming SD musicians, (save for Antonio Dangond, who lives in LA). Thursday was their inaugural public performance, and I'm sure there were some butterflies to deal with, but their debut came off pretty smoothly.

Dangond plays piano and writes half the tunes and Ricky Giordano plays guitar and writes the rest. The two musicians have decided to focus on an all original program — a risky proposition, for sure. As the group gigs more, the repertoire may expand to include compositions from their various influences, which would be a wise move, in my opinion.

Opening with the fanfare-like melody to "Light," a powerful vamp morphed into a brisk swing section fueled by the lockstep interaction of left-handed double bassist Doug Walker and the crisp ride cymbal articulations of Charlie Weller, Giordano unwrapped a solo built with blocks of shifting pentatonic sequences, followed by the remarkably logical keyboard essay from Dangond.

Walker began "For Mike," with a probing ostinato, laying a foundation for gauzy piano chords and Weller's soft mallet cymbal washes. Dangond proceeded carefully, slowly layering thoughful motifs and telling a story.

Dangond's "Open Doors," featured an intricate theme with lots of unison rhythm hits, and a nice harmonic structure. Giordano squeezed in one of his better solos, and when the tune arrived at a vamp, Charlie Weller tore into a series of percussive explosions. Weller, back in town after getting his degree from the Berklee College of Music, is poised to make a mark on the scene.

As a special treat, the last piece featured a special guest, David Borgo on soprano saxophone. The addition of Borgo ratcheted the excitement quotient up exponentially. The tune, "Heart," by Giordano, was also one of the strongest of the evening. It had a kind of jazz-funk attitude to it that reminded me a little of saxophonist Eddie Harris' 1970s output. Borgo soloed first, and his scorching, grainy exposition set the bar high, eliciting strong responses from guitar and piano.

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Nice stuff. Let's see where they take this.

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Ian Tordella Group

I've had the pleasure of seeing Tordella several times in the last few months, and it's been instructive to hear his growth curve develop. The saxophonist was on fire for this performance--taking his Wayne Shorter modeled aesthetic into a considerably higher plane.

Over bassist Ben Wanicur's loping lines, Tordella outlined the theme to a piece from his debut album Magnolia, in a full-bodied timbre while guitarist Joey Carano wove intricate modal inversions with a slightly distorted tone. Powerhouse drummer Richard Sellers kept the fires stoked and had the ability to totally change the direction of the tune by simply striking a different part of the bell of his cymbal. Carano strung together long strands of short phrases into a rich tapestry of ideas.

They got deep into noise-for-the-sake-of-noise on a Stereolab cover, Tordella squeezing as much content as possible from the minimalist melody while Carano elicited steel-drum choir textures from his highly effects-pedal processed instrument, causing Tordella to warble some Ayler-esque groans from his horn. When the tune shifted into a heavy rock/funk dynamic, Sellers heightened the tension of Carano's solo with enough explosions to collapse a high-rise.

This is a band that is reaching a new level of expression, and as a quartet, they are remarkably focused. Carano is an astonishingly original guitarist who acts as the perfect foil for Tordella, who seems to get better with each gig. Wanicur is becoming more comfortable and Sellers is just killing.

These guys have another gig coming up at 98 Bottles. Catch it, you'll be glad you did.

Photos by Darci Fontenot
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