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San Diego music titan Daniel Jackson made an all too rare appearance last night, assembling a killer quartet that included pianist Joshua White, LA bassist Henry Franklin and drummer Myron Cohen in concert at 98 Bottles.

Even as the years fly by, Jackson's vitality and instrumental prowess seem untouched. His command of the tenor saxophone is still astonishing as is his ability to create compelling musical structures in the moment.

Speaking of which, Jackson and company began the evening with a spontaneously conceived piece that had all of the gravitas and logic of a tried and true standard. At first, the drum work of Cohen seemed wildly out of place, and way too loud. It was hard to hear the contributions of White and Franklin. Eventually, though, I began to hear a method to his madness--and started to really dig the utter lack of clichés in his bag of tricks.

Moving forward with a Jackson original "Neiko," the saxophonist unveiled a remarkable solo of melodic themes strung together like strands of pearls. His sound, deep and resonant and the ideas cascading from his horn were the signposts of true mastery. White followed with concrete examples of stellar listening. He hears things around the corner, and reacts with split-second decisions that transform his solos into epic storytelling--complete with plot twists and character development. Franklin responded with an epic story of his own, built on dramatic glissandi and slurred double-stops, all in immaculate time.

There was another spontaneously created blues with a melody sounding like it was written in stone, and a beautiful reading of the movie-theme "Laura," which glistened from the melodic interplay of White and Jackson over the groaning bass and whispered brushes of Franklin and Cohen.

When just those four were playing--the magic couldn't have been more inspiring.

Unfortunately, the addition of several guest musicians who were struggling with the basics caused the program to descend into a "jam-session," vibe, and the music suffered in the process.

Any chance to hear Jackson, though, is worth jumping on.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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