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Trumpet virtuoso Gilbert Castellanos turned in another one of his excellent theme-based shows on June 8, at 98 Bottles, this one titled A Tribute to Dinah Washington & Clark Terry, joined by his wife Lorraine Castellanos on vocals, with Mikan Zlatkovich on piano, Rob Thorsen on bass, and Brett Sanders on drums.

Opening with "Brotherhood of Men," the quartet hit the straight swing hard, with Castellanos dipping into the blues aesthetic with plunger mute growls and traversing into bebop filigree for balance. Zlatkovich packed each chorus with idea-building and focused invention and the trading of fours with Sanders illuminated both his musicality and his explosion.

The lilting motion of "Digits," drew fuel from Zlatkovich's caressed harmonies while Castellanos traced warm arcs of spontaneous melody broken only by the well-placed squeezed, smeared punctuation. The pianist loaded a solo filled with ebullient ideas and quotes from "Stompin' at the Savoy," and Thorsen's spot concentrated on thick, bottom-heavy textures and dripping double-stops.

Lorraine Castellanos took the stage for "What A Night," wowing with her gloriously sure pitch, command of nuance, and an innate ability to swing. There is a detail of vulnerability in her phrasing that is hard to resist.

Thorsen's bluesy turnbacks set the stage for a duet opening of "Teach Me Tonight," where Mrs. Castellanos tugged at the emotional corners of the theme before yielding to her husband's remarkable, horn-in-each-hand trumpet/flugelhorn "cutting-contest" with himself.

Guest trombonist Matt Hall joined the quartet for the gale-force-tempo of "Serenade to a Bus Seat," which found Castellanos striking waves of alacrity while sneaking in a quote from "Manteca." Hall took the baton with crowded choruses that seemed to tax the speed-limits of the instrument -- how he kept that up was hard to imagine. All of this activity was perfectly distilled with Sanders' potently logical drum solo.

Lorraine returned with Thorsen alone, strapping on a nylon-string guitar to form a duo with the bass in a breathtaking, stripped-to-the-bone interpretation of "What a Difference a Day Makes," complete with a round of lyrics in Spanish, courtesy the original composer.

Masterful stuff.

Photo by Matt Hall

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