Ken Leighton 12:30 p.m., Oct. 21
Joshua White Quintet live at 98 Bottles
San Diego jazz pianist Joshua White continued his inexorable quest of self-realization last night in a stunning performance with his quintet at 98 Bottles.
The JWQ may be the most exciting small group performing in Southern California right now. Trombonist Michael Dessen has quietly become one of the finest improvising brass men on the planet, and LA saxophonist Gavin Templeton is a force to be reckoned with. Drummer Dan Schnelle's remarkable synthesis of Jack DeJohnette and Tony Williams ratchets up the kinetic energy like a fireball. Bassist Hamilton Price filled in for Dave Robaire, and fit this ensemble like a glove.
Opening with Andrew Hill's "Tough Love," Dessen and Templeton wrapped around each other for the spooky melody while Schnelle's acuity on the ride cymbal kept the possibilities wide open.
White's "Current," featured an insistent stuttering rhythmic motif, which Dessen pretty much shattered with staccato tattoos and wide vibrato. White came on with layered melodic ideas and wicked metric propulsion then Templeton knocked it out of the park with a squealing, ecstatic solo that is still resonating in my skull.
White's group expanded Ornette Coleman's "Peace," into totally new vistas, especially when the pianist's solo took jangling fragments and seemed to leave the form completely. Price took a bass feature that alternated racing scales with pedal tones and slurred double-stops.
White, Price and Schnelle tackled "Think Of One," with a bluesy swagger that brought out ebullient solos from all three, then Dessen and White combined on a beautiful duo reading of "Ask Me Now," which was almost unrecognizable.
This band seems to grow exponentially each time they perform. If you want to know what's happening in music right now, check out the Joshua White Quintet.
Photo by Richard White