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The music of jazz titan John Coltrane will forever serve as a touchstone for me, so it was with great anticipation that the July 13, Brian Levy Music of John Coltrane & McCoy Tyner tribute at Dizzy's surfaced on my calendar. Levy came in from the East Coast for this date, and I've always been attracted to his personal distillation of the 'Trane aesthetic. Heightening that anticipation was the inclusion of piano virtuoso Mikan Zlatkovivh in the program, a man with a serious understanding of Coltrane's most admired pianist. Add LA bass phenomenon Hamilton Price and new San Diego drummer Kevin Higuchi into the mix, and I knew where I was heading.

Tyner's "Blues on the Corner," opened the set, Zlatkovich meting out the sly swagger of the theme with equal measure Tyner-isms and personal barrelhouse touches. Levy followed, coursing though the changes with tightly wound arpeggios and little screams before Price laid it down with slow, deliberate pulls in the dark register over the soft knocks and swished cymbal accompaniment of Higuchi.

A powerful ostinato led off "For Tomorrow," another Tyner chart -- sort of a modal ballad with a killer hook that found Zlatkovich cascading sparkling melodic information with dive-bombing left-hand clusters before Levy's keening tenor wound up into an intensity fueled by Higuchi's fiery counterpoint.

The rumbling Phrygian rubato of Coltrane's "Crescent," was perfectly interpreted, with Higuchi's malleted toms and shimmering cymbals powering both piano and tenor solo's while Price kept it real with open-string whole notes.

"Central Park West," despite some faltering moments, (or maybe because of them) turned into my personal favorite -- it's a gorgeous tune, and Zlatkovich nailed a sublimely lyrical solo that will stick in my brain.

It was Price, however, that sent me home with a song in my heart -- his a cappella improvisation on "Changes," was simply stunning.

Photo by Patrick Escalante

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