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Pianist Reka Parker headlined her first gig at the new Dizzy's in Pacific Beach last night, fronting a veteran quartet featuring guitarist Dwight Love, bassist Jeff Blanco and drummer Bob Daniels.

Ratcheting the excitement quotient up several notches were the contributions of special guest soloists Derek Cannon on trumpet and SD jazz legend Joe Marillo on tenor saxophone.

You can still hear the faint traces of her native Hungary in Parker's voice when she speaks. She came to America on a music scholarship to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she graduated in 2000 with a degree in film scoring. Currently teaching and co-hosting a weekly jam-session at Haritna Mediterranean restaurant, Parker's abilities have not gone unnoticed in the local jazz community.

She chose a Hollywood soundtrack theme for this concert, and began the evening with a rollicking solo piano version of "Remembering You," the closing tune from the weekly '70s comedy All In The Family. Mixing a kind of Errol Garner-esque stride with a seamless assembly of exquisitely voiced chords made for a powerful opening gambit.

Parker transcribed all of the selections, arranging and reharmonizing them in order to maximize the improvising potential and add a personal stamp to the material.

The band joined her for the luscious waltz theme from "To Kill A Mockingbird," Cannon prodding the contours with mellifluous velocity before tossing the baton to Love who answered with Wes-inspired octaves.

The melody of the 5/4 time "Mission Impossible," theme came off a little choppy, but elicited bravura solos from the trumpeter and a sweet mix of block chords and melodic ornamentation from Parker before Daniels lit it up with a short solo to take it out.

Cannon's honey-hued flugelhorn was a highlight in the theme from "China Town", weaving a warm filigree around the changes and perhaps drawing Parker into her best solo thus far, toggling between gorgeous voice-leading and diatonic flurries sprinkled with blue-notes.

Marillo took the stage to tackle Jobim's "Corcovado," laying down a resonant, yearning sound as thick as sap from a tree, jumping on the changes with racing scales and trills punctuated by screams in the upper register. Parker navigated the form with élan, nailing the harmony over the groaning bass of Blanco and Daniel's sly series of rimshots.

Splitting melodic duties, Marillo and Cannon transformed the "Taxi Driver" theme into a pensive masterpiece that was only heightened when they dovetailed into a breathy unison, then Parker switched to keyboard to lay down a dreamy, synth-pad cushion for Cannon's mahogany-grained reading of a track from "Blade Runner," where she really showcased an intimate sense of touch.

Let's hope there are more showcase gig's for Parker. She's earned them.

Photo by Michael Oletta

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