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Trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos brought fellow horn-man Brian Lynch into town on July 7, for Night of the Cookers, Vol. III, alongside an LA rhythm section of Katie Thiroux on bass, Dan Schnelle on drums, with Mikan Zlatkovich on piano, and legendary special guest Charles McPherson on alto saxophone.

Opening with an exciting 60's flavored piece, "Terra Firma Irma," Lynch pushed forward on the remarkable pulse of Thiroux, who attacks each quarter-note with an obvious joy. Spinning ideas with uncanny velocity, Lynch's tone is crystal clear, and he knows his way around the upper register. Castellanos followed with a thicker sound, darting around the changes, sculpting passages with undulating vibrato before turning it over to Zlatkovich, who took charge with ebullient power and implacable swing.

The relaxed clip of "Along Came Betty," allowed for more thoughtful expression, so Castellanos' blend of taut phrases with longer strands came off especially well, as did Lynch's solo which had a storytelling vibe to it -- along with some incredible chops. Thiroux got a short feature to showcase her big, woody sound, although I wish her amp had been turned up a bit.

Zlatkovich's "This Is For Horace," is an intense burner, toggling between a Latin vamp and straight time. He took the first solo, filled with effervescent melodies and thunderous harmonic motion over Thiroux's furious walking and the Tony Williams-like energy of Schnelle, who got his own chance to shine with an explosive and intelligent solo at the end.

Lynch led off "I Can't Get Started," alone, utterly transforming the warhorse into a personal narrative so deep that he owned the tune by the time the band joined in.

When McPherson arrived, a perfectly paced tempo for "The Song Is You," was counted off, and although he seemed to be distracted by the process of wetting his reed, he jumped on the form like a ninja, and proceeded to raise the already intense energetic vibrations in the room to an almost unbearably ecstatic level. He managed to outline the changes perfectly while pulling them apart at the same time, and the crescendo he initiated at the end left the audience both drained and satisfied.

Photo by Jamie Shadowlight

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