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Guitarist Jaime Valle is one of the San Diego jazz scene's most valuable players and distinctive musicians. Last night, he assembled an incredible group of veteran performers to pay tribute to the music, and spirit of jazz icon Wes Montgomery in a Chuck Perrin/dizzy's production at Tango Del Rey in Pacific Beach.

Assisting in the tribute were guitarist Bob Boss, bassist extraordinaire Bob Magnusson and LA drummer Ramon Banda.

I had a chance to chat with both guitarists before the concert as well as the legendary Mundell Lowe--who had a first row seat--and bore witness to some hilarious stories that I can't repeat here--suffice it to say that you know you are on the right track when Lowe travels from the North County to catch your gig.

The pairing of Boss and Valle highlights a fascinating contrast: Valle is an ostensibly "simpler" guitarist--although his content is as intricate as anyone's; Boss is much more bebop oriented--his lines come out in bursts and utilize tangential chromatic connections for a denser presentation.

To put it another way, both men are using assault rifles-- Valle squeezes his rounds off a little more deliberately--while Boss goes through more ammunition-- and scares you a little more.

Beginning with an open minor-key vamp powered by the swirling brushes of Banda and the huge, wicked ostinato of Magnusson, Valle came out cooking with gobs of chocolate octaves and swinging single notes, before Boss interjected streams of tones in chromatic orbits-- and the theme to "Shadow Of Your Smile," emerged in an ecstatic groove. Magnusson's solo, full of honey-drip vibrato and melodic ideas--generated a series of jaw-drop moments.

Valle began "Sunny," alone, digging into a remarkable, dark lament, drenched in bluesy octaves and rhythmic hipness that evoked a sense of joy not commonly achieved. Boss was next--he used the blues as the connective tissue between melodic and harmonic information. On the vamp-out, Valle quoted "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise," and other seemingly unrelated material.

Throughout the night, Magnusson's growling whole-notes and Banda's quiet swing kept everything fresh and on "You Don't Know What Love Is," the bassist's yearning arco stole the show.

This what jazz should sound like.

Photo by Mark Keller Photography--courtesy Jaime Valle

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