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Tenor saxophonist Daniel Jackson is a monster musician, and has been for many years. His time in San Diego has seen him mentor dozens of the area's heaviest players, from Mark Dresser and Turiya Mareya, to Joshua White and Gilbert Castellanos.

Sadly, Jackson doesn't play much in town anymore, so last night's concert at the new Dizzy's represented a wonderful, and rare opportunity to experience the touch of a master.

Joining Jackson on stage were White on piano, Castellanos on trumpet, Rob Thorsen on bass, Brett Sanders on drums, along with special guest, George Bohanon on trombone.

Opening with a blues, each player got a chance to stretch, and showcase their stuff. Bohanon soloed first, activating a warm, personal sound with a slight burr in its edge. Castellanos followed spinning tight, bebop curlicues and generating excitement with trills and smears. White had been knocking it out of the ballpark all along, just with his accompaniment--which he tailored to fit each soloist like a glove--his own feature focused on swinging block chords that started out referencing Red Garland before branching into powerful chunks of tension that were all his own. Thorsen kept a mad, Paul Chambers kind of swirling energy going, then Jackson nailed it all down with a dark tone and winding improvisation that swung like crazy. Everyone traded 8's with Sanders, who creates big fires with minimal kindling.

Bohanon chose "But Beautiful," as his feature-- caressing the ballad with gorgeous, short glissandi and poignant ideas. The smoky sound of his horn resonated over the whisper-quiet ruminations of the piano and throbbing whole notes of the bass--all of them gliding on the delicate strokes of Sanders' brushwork.

Rumbling tremolos in the piano seemed to imply dozens of tune possibilities--but when the Bill Evans/Miles Davis creation "Nardis," emerged--a new facet of White's versatility advanced. Over the churning, throbbing theme the pianist layered intricate voice-leading and streams of eighth notes that hung in the air--yielding to Thorsen, who's flamenco inspired strumming led into lightning strikes and odd harmonics.

Jackson returned to the stage to lead everyone into a remarkably Coltrane-esque version of the warhorse "Caravan," an arrangement that totally stripped every vestige of cliché from its bones as Jackson inspired each player to posit features of stark individuality. Bohanon probably got the best of this one with a solo that began with short fragments and wound its way to "Sweet Georgia Brown."

There is a deep, spiritual mystery inherent in Jackson's keening tenor, something he took to another level on his resoundingly tender version of the movie theme to "Laura," whereupon his saxophone transformed the space into a reverberant cavern of yearning, vocal, declaratives.

Charlie Parker's "Segment," followed, taken at an inhuman tempo that drew bravura solos from all, especially Sanders, who took the quietest, most creative drum solo I've heard in quite some time--conjuring an amazing amount of energy, swing and storytelling out of a series of micro-gestures.

Incredible stuff, props to Castellanos for putting it all together.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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