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Hurricane Sandy did a number on the KSDS Jazz Live program on Tuesday. A concert featuring guitarist Mark Elf had to be scrapped because of ongoing problems getting a flight out of NYC. Thankfully, local jazz veteran Jaime Valle was able to assemble a sextet of world-class musicians with San Diego connections--so with bassist Bob Magnusson, pianist Allan Phillips, drummer Richard Sellers, percussionist Gene Perry, and vocalist Coral MacFarland Thuet on board, the show went on.

Valle began with "Obsession," anchored by the voluminous, liquid tone of Magnusson, and the interlocked groove of Phillips, Sellers, and Perry which set the guitarist free to spin webs of post-Wes improvisations.Valle's got a deep, beautiful sound--crafted without benefit of effects pedals--just his guitar plugged into a Fender amplifier with reverb.

Over the dovetailed beats of Perry and Sellers, the guitarist set smoky octaves in motion to lay down the melody of "Killer Joe," and Phillips let loose with a rollicking solo full of parallel lines and Baroque ornamentation.

Valle has that innate ability to layer a blues commentary into materials that don't seem particularly suited for it--on "Favela," he incorporated a nuanced vibrato and turned it over to Magnusson, whose dark, honeyed glissandi took on a vocal quality to die for. On the vamp out--Perry and Sellers traded explosive exchanges that ratcheted the tension up to a higher level.

MacFarland-Thuet joined the group for three pieces: on the Jobim classic, "Agua de Beber," she simply tore it up with a slinky, sensual melodic delivery, and on "Dindi," she brought out all of the heartache and longing inherent in the gorgeous ballad with sure pitch and emotive understanding. Her final tune was a too-cool, finger-snapping romp over Magnusson's sure walk on "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise," which killed, all the way.

It was a distinct pleasure to experience Phillips on the grand piano--I've only heard him playing keyboards on previous Valle gigs, and the difference was amazing--his rhythmic acuity is even more dramatic on acoustic, and ideas seem to cascade off his fingertips.

Magnusson's time is as sure as the Atomic Clock, and his rich, buttery sound is enough to make one's jaw drop every time he gets a feature.

90 minutes of pure joy.

Photo by Tom Westerlin

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