The Canyoneers 8 a.m., Dec. 19
Jason Robinson: Tiresian Rapture @ Dizzy's
The saxophonist scorched the Pacific Beach venue with Rob Thorsen, Duncan Moore, Ian Tordella and Joey Carano.
The March 1 performance by former San Diegan Jason Robinson at the New Dizzy's represented everything I love about jazz, and through the strength of his imagination, also brought out the best in four local players whose work I thought I knew well.
Robinson is a multifaceted saxophonist who is capable, in one solo of touching on resonant pearls of melodic intent, orgiastic dervish screams, and a polymath compositional acumen.
"Cerberus Reigning," began with the tenor man alone, whip-lashing trilled scales into contrasts of reverberant bellows against wafted sighs and when the band jumped into the complex theme, Ian Tordella responded on alto with winding ellipses and tart multiphonics.
The trio of Robinson, bassist Rob Thorsen and drummer Duncan Moore then embarked on a remarkably oblique examination of "Lush Life," that featured crowded ideas of burnished edges that remained free until connecting with the time on the bridge. Thorsen seemed to channel Scott La Faro one moment with facile alacrity--then Wilbur Morris the next with rubbery glissandi--all gliding on the whispered brushstrokes of Moore.
The tight unisons of "Paper Tiger," set in motion an illusion that everyone was playing the start/stop theme before Robinson emerged with an aggressive strut that recalled Archie Shepp and Henry Threadgill all at once.
Racing trills and obscene slap-tonguing characterized the tour-de-force unaccompanied intro to "Elbow Grease," which found Moore firing a series of fusillades into the mix and lifting Mr. Tordella into the finest solo I've ever heard from him--spiraling gestures into yelping altissimo climaxes. Guitarist Joey Carano carried the contrapuntal exchange with which his accompaniment had centered on into a hushed dynamic where ideas careened in all directions.
For an extreme change of pace "Cerulean Seas & Viridian Skies," was perfect. A pensive ballad with lush tenor yearnings and cyclic surges also afforded Carano the opportunity to invent a feature of episodic and unpredictable beauty. Robinson answered with a honey-toned hush--in sharp contrast to the Ecclesiastic squeal-a-thon of kinetic rapture that highlighted "Saros."
Thorsen's loping vamp over Moore's Elvin Jones-ish groove on "Tiresian Symmetry," brought out the peeling snake charmer alto of Tordella, and the drummer's increased volitional disruption connected with Robinson's frantic, disjointed curlicues in a locked-hand embrace toward a squall of gale-force proportions.
Evoking the epochal cooperative trio Air, Robinson, Moore and Thorsen lit into "Secondary," with seamless transitions from absolute freedom into wicked pulse and back again. The joy of witnessing Thorsen create, from nothing, a soliloquy of wide vibrato, eking overtones and crossed-hand harmonics had me inching into a transformational experience.
However long this concert might have lasted, (looking at my watch was never an option), it seemed to transpire in mere moments. It really doesn't get much better than this.
Photo by Michael Klayman