• Jam Session alerts

Dan Atkinson and the folks at Athenaeum Jazz pulled off one the best concerts of 2013 with the Oct. 9 appearance of the Dave Douglas Quintet-- a riveting and perfectly paced concert that rippled with muscular solos and compostional detail.

Beginning with the through-composed "Law Of Historical Memory," pianist Bobby Avey's repeated chord clanged while Rudy Royston's hi-hat sizzled asymmetrically like a rotating lawn-sprinkler having a seizure. Douglas and tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon laid out the lugubrious theme over the throb of Linda Oh's resonant bass. Throughout, Royston's waves of percussive assault kept the tune's energy at an ecstatic level.

Douglas and Irabagon wove around each other like strands of a double-helix on "Bridge To Nowhere," a loose and swinging groove that sounded like blend of Ornette Coleman and Art Blakey. Avey's clusters lurched with spastic repetitions, branching out with short melodic phrases. Irabagon began with a Wayne Shorter quote then dialed into a dialog with Royston whose fusillades drove him into hoarse spirals and exclamatory screams. Douglas soloed last, mounting tough elliptical lines that suddenly rocketed into the ionosphere.

There was a wonderful dynamic plot-plan, both in the arc of compositions, like the beautifully drawn "This Is My Father's World," a ballad where Douglas soared and Irabagon answered with fleet, honeyed curlicues, and the molten swing of "Beware of Doug," a tune fueled by Royston's onslaught. Douglas can play fast and high with the best of them-- however, it's the actual content inside the velocity that really sings.

Irabagon is developing into a singular aesthetic. For now, imagine a synthesis of Joe Henderson and Archie Shepp. On the spiritual "Whither I Must Wander," Douglas and Avey began in duet, a sublime mix of rhapsodic harmonies and gently slurred chromatic connections driven into a trance-like world by the inclusion of Oh's arco and Royston's feathery brushes.

Oh herself was a revelation: solid, wood-grained pulse that never wavered despite the shape-shifting meters, and her solos were cogent bits of instant melody.

Satisfying on all levels, this is what jazz is supposed to sound like.

  • Jam Session alerts

More like this:


Sign in to comment

Let’s Be Friends

Subscribe for local event alerts, concerts tickets, promotions and more from the San Diego Reader