A sweltering September night set the stage for an evening of blistering modal jazz courtesy of Jazz 88’s flagship concert program, Jazz Live. Centered in the acoustically pristine Saville Theatre, L.A.-based saxophonist Doug Webb fronted a top-shelf quartet featuring pianist Mitchel Forman, bassist Kevin Axt, and drummer Dan Schnelle.
Right out of the gates, Webb was firing on all cylinders on the wicked swing of “Mr. Milo,” a burner driven by the reedman’s swirling energy and the muscular piano of Forman, who was consistently delightful throughout the night.
The leader darted in and around the melody for John Lennon’s “I Will,” taken to a higher level by the gospel feel of Forman’s piano and the deep woody texture of Axt’s bass, which reminded me a great deal of the Norwegian master Palle Danielsson.
Webb broke out his soprano saxophone for the serpentine choreography of Frank Foster’s “Simone,” really digging in over the precise ride-cymbal articulations from Schnelle, who also contributed a stunning mix of detonation and finesse in an expansive and mind-boggling solo.
Back on tenor, Webb rubbed a deep burnish into the creases of Monk’s “Ask Me Now,” exhibiting the soul of an improviser not unfamiliar with the vagaries of genuine romance.
This is the way it’s supposed to sound. There’s no higher compliment in my book.