Julie Stalmer 8 a.m., Feb. 22
Joshua White debuts new group at Dizzy's
Following a hit at The Blue Whale in LA, White's band exploded in Pacific Beach.
Piano man Joshua White likes to mix it up, constantly experimenting with groups of different personnel as part of his inexorable quest for growth as a musician.
On Oct. 5, White assembled a brand-new group featuring NYC drummer Damion Reid, with electric bassist Tim LeFebvre (who just joined the Tedeski/Trucks Band), and alto saxophonist Josh Johnson.
White introduced one of his most enduring compositions, "Curiosity Landing," with tinkling, pastel harmonies, but the tune's usually ECM-ish calm was soon threatened by the maelstrom assault of Reid, who swept Johnson into a swell of fiery aesthetics before handing off to the composer, who locked into the drummer's world with torrential clusters.
LeFebvre provided the connective tissue between tunes to outline with lithe asymmetry low, rumbling tones, odd intervals and double/triple stops until the band launched into Wayne Shorter's "Masqualero," as a nervous, stuttering vamp driven into a delirium that featured Johnson's squall succumbing to the carpet-bombs of Reid, who was both relentless and inspired.
Reid used a combination of ride cymbal articulation and bundle-sticks to open a considerable sonic environment on the medley of Shorter's "Someplace Called Where," and White's "Memories of Motian." There was an exquisite exchange between piano and alto on the former, and a wickedly "out" display of electronic mayhem by LeFebrve on the latter, which featured a very abstract, spastic groove that found White arpeggiating spacey Sun Ra clusters.
Johnson and White interpreted "Round Midnight," as a duo, decorating the theme in reverberant silences and plaintive cries as Johnson toggled between purred tones and harsh squeals. White's solo became an essay of beautiful abstraction that championed the melody while simultaneously lighting new paths.
Reid began the finale, "Thelonious," with a long, exciting solo of chain-reactive collisions before the band jumped in, piling onto the jack-hammer theme with blue-hued freedom.
Photo by Barbara Wise