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Although he hasn't been in San Diego long, bassist Ben Wanicur has been making waves on the jazz scene, and he recently released an album under his own name, The Excluded Middle with saxophonist Ian Tordella guitar hero Peter Sprague and young drum phenomenon Charlie Weller.

Wanicur has a thick, bottom-heavy sound and excellent time, but the real surprise on The Excluded Middle is his compositional facility, which is consistently excellent.

Opening with a staggered bass vamp, "13 Vans," explodes with a spooky, elliptical theme that toggles between a loping odd-meter and swing-time. Tordella really opens things up with timbre manipulation while navigating the rhythmic contours and Sprague posits inside and outside information with equal glee.

The moaning arco that sets up "Sun Chant," lands into a hypnotic ostinato that Weller tattoos with rim-shots and a hissing hi hat. Tordella and Sprague share layered solos of orbital tensions over pinpoint ride cymbal articulations that drop into whispered brushes to underpin Wanicur's dark, creative spin.

Cole Porter's "So In Love," features Wanicur's big, meaty quarter-notes , with Tordella tracing curlicues around the changes that sometimes arc into the altissimo, while Wanicur's time-centric spot drips into the bottom end.

Guest Brad Steinwehe's flugelhorn graces the leader's smoldering ballad "Hello Goodbye Hello," with a keening contribution and Tordella gets his Dexter Gordon on with a huge, breathy solo.

Closing with the off-kilter blues, "Hey Dude," a tricky head followed by adventurous and playful solos from all, including a thrilling series of fours with the explosive Weller, The Excluded Middle bristles with creative energy.

Highly recommended.

You can catch these guys at their CD release party, May 17, at Dizzy's, located at 4275 Mission Bay Dr.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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