Mike Madriaga 12:34 p.m., Dec. 18
Levy, Zlatkovich & Sprague live at Dizzy's
Sprague used ethnic percussion-loops and guitar synthesizer to negate the lack of bass and drums, making for a thrilling three-way conversation.
Tenor saxophonist Brian Levy, with guitarist Peter Sprague and pianist Mikan Zlatkovich combined for a knockout concert of modern jazz at its finest May 25, dispelling the notion that a rhythm section is absolutely necessary for potent music making.
They opened with "Stable-Mates," in a feeling-out fashion, perhaps a tad too slow for maximum propulsion but producing an excellent Sprague /Zlatkovich duet that managed to swing without stepping on each others toes. Levy soloed with a brilliant, resonant sound, buffed to a deep luster.
The baroque meets Latin groove of Chick Corea's "Armando's Rumba" was next, an impossibly crowded melody of dramatic unisons that found Zlatkovich ripping through the contours with rhythmic drive, while Sprague clapped an effective counterpoint. Levy honed sharp-edged chord tones and scalar runs and the guitarist's solo mined flamenco scales at a clip that would make John McLaughlin blush.
A dreamy guitar-synthesizer blended well with the electric piano to set up "World's Will," conjuring a very Weather Report vibe for Levy to enter in full search-for-meaning mode, where every phrase lit an emotional fuse.
Sprague's "Calling Me Home," is always a delight, especially with his a cappella intro drenched in gospel filigree and Levy's breathy tenor asides.
After a blistering "Airgen," where Zlatkovich toggled between whiplash melody and rollicking left-hand swing, the group concluded with "Mikan's Groove," featuring gauzy chords over a tight ostinato. Levy chased modal ideas into fulsome blats and Sprague delighted with a dangerously exploratory guitar-synth solo that quoted snatches of "Resolution," from Coltrane's "A Love Supreme".