DJ Stevens 9 a.m., Aug. 21
Drum Summit: live at Tango Del Rey
Last night, San Diego drum master Duncan Moore brought five of the area's most accomplished and diverse percussionists together for his third annual Drum Summit at Tango Del Rey in Pacific Beach.
First Set: Russell Bizzett ; Monette Marino
Bizzett is that classic "first-call" drummer with tons of experience in rock, blues, mainstream and even free-jazz. He chose bassist Rob Thorsen, trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, pianist Mikan Zlatkovich, and special guest saxophonist Daniel Jackson to accompany him.
He opened his set with an architectural drum solo mostly on skins, that had me thinking Max Roach--then the band launched into McCoy Tyner's "Passion Dance," and his playing took on a more raw and aggressive nature, closer to Jack DeJohnette or Elvin Jones. What I really loved about his performance was how he tailored his approach completely to suit those he was accompanying. He was able to shape the contours of bravura spots by Castellanos, Jackson, and especially Zlatokovich, with whom he seemed to have a special hook-up with. Everyone dropped out for Thorsen, who turned in one of the best solos I've ever heard from him.
After a short break, Marino took the stage for a combination demonstration/concert. Surrounded by multiple sized West African percussion--she laid down some rhythms on the large Dunun drums with curved sticks while she sang--then settled in on djembe, layering some incredible stuff over pre-recorded tracks. She also invited Mike Holguin and Charlie Chavez up for a remarkable piece that featured all three performers laying down a thick, polyrhythmic bed, and echoing a long drum-break between them.
Second Set: Jon Szanto ; Charlie Chavez ; Mike Holguin
Classical percussionist Szanto brought out a marimba large enough to land a small plane on, then began a beautiful piece, "A Little Prayer," which actually sounded like a church organ for a moment. Using four soft mallets, he established a blissful reverie which lingered in the ear. His own "Scenes From A Rondo," was celebratory, virtuosic, and all over the place.
Chavez brought guitarist Dusty Brough to accompany him on wide ranging piece that referenced music from the African diaspora, including Brazil, Peru and Puerto Rico. He and Brough demonstated some tight interaction--and he did so playing several instruments at once: the cajon, bongos, conga, and, at one point, an actual donkey-jaw-bone which he pounded and scraped with a stick.
Then, Holguin came out for an astonishing drumset/ percussion duet that defied my ability to absorb. Let's just say that the years of working together with Castellanos have enabled these two master drummers to develop a communication that borders on the telepathic.
For the grand finale, pianist Irving Florez, bassist Danny Weller, and drummer Bizzett joined Chavez, Holguin and Szanto on a spirited romp through Chick Corea's "Spain," featuring more drum solos than you could shake a stick at.
Jon Szanto by Barbara Wise; Monette Marino, Mike Holguin, Charlie Chavez by Jamie Shadowlight