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98 Bottles held an intriguing concert last night of two local jazz groups: the Ian Tordella Trio, opening for the Danny Green Trio. Both units featured bassist Justin Grinnell with Tordella's band using Fernando Gomez on drums while Green employed Julien Cantelm.


Tordella began with "Magnolia," off his Circumvention release of the same name, with the constant throb of Grinnell's bass -- the pings and knocks of the Gomez kit coalescing into an effective backdrop for the saxophonist's dense cloud of spiraling lines that shot into multiphonics at just the right moment. Grinnell pays close attention to the details of his sound--making each note count.

A rather oblique arrangement of "Stella By Starlight," followed, Tordella's keening tenor winding warm curlicues into the altissimo register. When Gomez launched into his solo--you could hear the melody with each and every stroke. Tordella really opened up on the vamp-out--wrapping aggressive ideas around each other in a hoarse double-helix.

Sonny Rollins' "Why Don't I," takes a Parker-ish line and distorts it with multiple repetitions, and I couldn't help but think of that classic Rollins trio album: A Night At The Village Vanguard with Wilbur Ware and Pete LaRoca.

Tordella is really coming in to his own lately. I hear a guy who has absorbed a lot of Wayne Shorter with healthy amounts of Coltrane and Rollins into a highly personal aesthetic. I'm especially impressed with Grinnell, who navigates the divide between the languid and pure note sculpture of Charlie Haden and more velocity-centric power of Dave Holland.

Green's trio has been an active unit for more than five years, and their tight interplay on the pianist's intricate original material is quite impressive. Opening with "End Of The Block," a complex chart filled with rhythm unisons and winding ostinati, Grinnell dug into his 5-string electric bass for some appropriate fusion fireworks.

"A Thousand Ways Home," followed--a sensual, Latin dance with definite Chick Corea overtones Green has a remarkable facility and a serious melodic gift that informs his solo improvisations with constant, effusive excitement. The trio was all over this arrangement--owning each daredevil moment with precision. Cantelm, especially, brought a rhythmic agitation that ratcheted the tune to a higher plane.

On "Tranquil Days," Green steered the band into a decidedly 'Trane-ish groove, with rumbling tremolos and arco bass over malleted drums, inviting Tordella (guesting), to spin dark labyrinths of sound over the stark harmonies of the pianist. Green built a melodic structure one brick at a time while Grinnell pedaled and Cantelm set waves of rim-shots and ride cymbal pings into motion.

Things got funky with "Soggy Shoes," a Monk-ish blues with an insistent backbeat powering the squiggly melody and clanging harmonies. Tordella sent a torrent of squealing filigree into the rafters.

All of these guys can really play--and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend attending future performances of the Tordella and Green trios.

Photos by Darci Fontenot

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