Scott Marks 3:09 p.m., June 23
Along Came A Spider @ 98 Bottles
Nathan Hubbard's episodic compositions came to life in bold relief with Ian Tordella, David Borgo and Rob Thorsen.
Last night, at 98 Bottles, the true depth of San Diego jazz talent was dramatically reinforced with two burning sets of thoroughly modern jazz by Along Came A Spider a new group organized by drummer/composer Nathan Hubbard, featuring stellar input from saxophonists David Borgo (alto & soprano), Ian Tordella ( tenor & soprano), and Rob Thorsen on double-bass.
Opening with a dedication to drum legend Max Roach, "Keep On Truckin' Brother," the group leapt into the slinky, elliptical theme with Tordella's tenor purring and squeaking over the ingenious propulsion of Thorsen, who walked, pedaled, and strummed with aplomb. Borgo began with squiggly sequences that grew into flurries capped with long sculpted tones. Thorsen continued, taking full advantage of open-strings in one the most creative solos I've heard from him.
On "Auslander," Borgo took up the alto, soloing with a sublime mix or Ornette Coleman's plaintive wail and the knotty, multiphonic screams of Anthony Braxton over the pinpoint ride cymbal tattoos of Hubbard, who followed with a feature that brought the organic joy of Paul Motian to mind.
The head to "Solitary Lines," had a cool vibe that navigated the divide between Steve Lacy and Tim Berne, with Borgo balancing the honey with the lemon--winding, chirping, and contrasting with gravitational pull of Thorsen's weighty whole-notes. After another breathtaking bass solo, Tordella and Borgo wrapped loose orbital strands around each other to take the tune out.
Hubbard had another great moment on "The Man With The Wind At His Heels," toggling between the swing aesthetic of Denis Charles and forward motion of Charles Moffett. After a brief intermission the band returned to play a suite of stunning cinematic invention beginning with "Star Song," which opened as a mournful theme powered by Hubbard's timpani-like strikes with soft mallets before switching gears into a hypnotic vamp that saw Tordella channeling Dexter Gordon and Albert Ayler through a constant shift of moods and ending with a truly wicked alto solo from Borgo.
A joyously atonal arco solo from Thorsen served as the connecting tissue into "Firecliffs," which leaned on a three note ostinato birthing a soaring, trilling Borgo contribution followed by Tordella's rafter reaching altissimo squeals and floorboard bouncing honks and squalls. A jagged Ornette-ian theme followed, building into a delayed resolution that faded into the ether.
Photo by Michael Klayman