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Tenor saxophonist Ben Schachter isn't just an excellent improviser -- he's also quite the conceptualist, a fact very much in evidence throughout his July 5 concert at Dizzy's leading a band he calls Occidentia.

Featuring Dave Marr on acoustic bass, Harley Magsino on electric, with Joey Carano on electric guitar and Kevin Higuchi on drums, Occidentia is clearly aiming for a different sound.

Opening with "Neo Metaphysical," Schachter honked a two-note riff over the roiling drums of Higuchi, whose contributions cannot be overstated. Carano juggled sequenced ideas through a chromatic prism, and the sound of Magsino's electric dancing atop Marr's pliant walk was surreal -- it reminded me of a tenor guitar several times.

Marr isn't heard nearly enough in town -- he's got a warm, robust sound and scads of ideas, beautifully demonstrated on two of his original compositions: the episodic "Infections," and the gorgeous ballad "Little Folks."

Schachter maintains a duality in his presentation -- he can traverse from tough spiraling arpeggios that squeal into the altissimo register or whisper breathy romanticisms that hearken back to an earlier era with a slippery ease.

Carano is consistently inventive and a delightful improviser. He's got an uncanny way of connecting resonant lines on a legato arc that don't end up sounding like scales or arpeggios, and when he and Schachter hooked up as a duet to open "She Wept," the effect was supremely lyrical. Marr, not to be outdone, logged in a slow, deliberate soliloquy that damn near stole the show.

Higuchi is new to San Diego -- but already making waves. He's got great ride cymbal articulation, very attentive ears and the ability to kick up waves of kinetic energy when the moment calls for it, like at the end of "On The Ocean," a loping Schachter original-- another highlight moment.


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