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Young double-bass virtuoso Danny Weller is back in town for a week or so, and he somehow found time to organize a tribute concert to the great Ella Fitzgerald with a San Diego all-star band at 98 Bottles on April 28.

Pianist Mikan Zlatkovich's arrangement of the warhorse "Take The A Train," was first with an inventive suspended section that crystallized when the bassist launched into thick, propulsive time. Guitarist Peter Sprague's spidery fingers darted around the swing aesthetic from indirect angles while Zlatkovich tended to hit it dead center. The surprise of the evening was vocalist Rebecca Jade who's sure pitch, dynamic control and rhythmic acuity made me wonder how she has managed to be under my personal radar for so long.

Ms. Jade sings with that rare combination of aggressive power and wistful nuance coupled with distinct enunciation that allowed one to understand every lyric.

On "I Hear Music," which featured tricky unisons and insouciant forward motion including a forceful series of traded fours between the bassist and drummer Charles Weller, Jade lit up the stage, growling one moment and cooing the next.

Speaking of growling, on "Cry Me A River," over Weller's throbbing bass, Jade squeezed every ounce of drama from the lyrics with timbre manipulation and bluesy ornamentation before yielding to Sprague, who extended the drama with sly chordal extensions and pointed phraseology.

The ultimate highlight of the set occurred on a remarkable retelling of "Blue Skies," whereupon the band struck an ebullient swing bed from which Jade unwrapped a flawless scat solo transcribed from Fitzgerald herself, inspiring potent solos from Zlatkovich and Sprague and earning tumultuous applause from the house.

Zlatkovich's rich stride informed "They Can't Take That Away From Me," referencing Teddy Wilson, Red Garland and the blues, while Sprague toggled between clean, multinote strikes and strong melodic accents.

My only complaint about this performance centered on my inability to hear the bass. Weller is a strong player with a terrific sound, but for whatever reason, one had to strain to hear him, even from the front row.

That being said, this was a terrific concert, and Ms. Jade isn't going to slip underneath my radar again.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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