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The discerning San Diego jazz fan will have some heavy decision-making to contend with this Friday night, November 30, as three excellent possibilities vie for an audience — all of them "can't miss" propositions.

Gilbert Castellanos continues with his weekly series at the Westgate Hotel, this time featuring Pete Kuzma on the piano with the always inspiring Marshall Hawkins on bass. The sonic experience of that small room is sublime — I've been to four of those gigs since they started, and each one was a transcendent affair. Arrive an hour early, and you can take your choice of the best seats in the house — your ears will thank you.

Equally intriguing is the debut of piano virtuoso Joshua White's quartet with former Philadelphian Ben Schachter on tenor saxophone, with the rock-solid rhythm tandem of Rob Thorsen on bass, and Duncan Moore on drums at the new Dizzy's. Schachter turned in an impressive performance last month in a trio with White and bassist Mark Dresser, and this new group will be interpreting music from both composer's.

Under any other circumstances, that concert would be inexorably confirmed in my schedule-- White is a guy I never get tired of hearing, and I feel unsettled about the reality of missing this gig.

For me, however, the indispensable concert opportunity will be the ultra-rare appearance of the Michael Dessen Trio in a Bonnie Wright Fresh Sound production at Space4Art in the East Village.

Dessen is one of the very best trombonists on Planet Earth--and has been for several years. His trio features two of NYC's most creative sidemen, drummer Dan Weiss and bassist Christopher Tordini. I saw these guys in May, 2011 up at UC Irvine, and was absolutely flabbergasted.

Premiering Dessen's brand new 7 movement suite Resonating Abstractions, the band should be red-hot by the time they reach San Diego. Their tour opens on the 26th in Amherst, MA, continues on the 27th at Shapeshifter Lab in Brooklyn, NY, heads West on the 28th for a show at The Blue Whale in LA, then hits here on the 30th.

Dessen's music is both intricate and raw, exploring multiple time-signatures and wide-open spaces for each musician to create in the moment. The trombonist also incorporates a lap-top computer for live electronic processing which adds a sonic wild-card in the trio.

If you are into jazz, it is imperative that you spend Friday night somewhere experiencing this music live. Whether it's at The Westgate, the new Dizzy's, or Space4Art, the only way you can go wrong is to stay at home.


Photo of Michael Dessen by Bill Douthart

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