Jazz fans and lovers of fine music in general can treat themselves to an early Christmas gift this coming weekend by taking in two stellar shows at Dizzy’s (4275 Mission Bay Drive) in Pacific Beach.
These shows involve San Diego master pianist Joshua White, providing even more incentive to witness both performances and affording the listener an opportunity to hear Mr. White thrive in wildly divergent contextual situations.
On Friday, it’s a rare hometown show by the Mark Dresser Quintet that is guaranteed to dazzle anyone looking for music with an adventurous edge – performed by five virtuoso players with international stature. Dresser is considered the world’s finest bassist by many people in the know – and if you live in San Diego without absorbing the Dresser experience – you should fix that immediately. It will be impossible to think of the bass in the same way afterwards.
On trombone is Michael Dessen, a player with an astounding emotional and technical command who always brings the house down. A very special guest is the phenomenal flute innovator Nicole Mitchell, who recently moved from her home base in Chicago, where she served as the first woman president of the legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians organization to take a teaching position at UC Irvine. Mitchell’s move to Southern California is an incredible stroke of luck for everyone who loves creative music.
Rounding out the group is the singular drum explorer Kjell Nordeson, who migrated from Sweden to obtain his doctorate at UCSD; and of course, White, who I consider the most exciting pianist on the planet.
Dresser has written a bunch of new music for the band, and this could very well be the leading contender for “concert of the year.” Don’t miss it!
On Saturday, LA saxophone legend Charles Owens returns to Dizzy’s with an all-star ensemble consisting of White on piano, Marshall Hawkins on bass and Brett Sanders on drums.
I saw this group about six months ago and was completely blown away. Owens is one of the few cats who can operate in that post-‘Trane 1960s modal style with complete authenticity. It is always cause for celebration when Marshall Hawkins plays in town. This man began his storied career in 1964 with Shirley Horn, and was a member of the 1960s Miles Davis Quintet.
Hawkins has his own, instantly identifiable sound, and he’s one of my very favorite bass players. On drums, Brett Sanders has an incredibly deep groove – his sense of swing and ride cymbal articulation is nothing short of sublime.
And then of course, there’s White, who will be playing music of a completely different nature than what he’s doing with Dresser – yet in both cases, he will reflect what’s happening around him and still maintain a singular personal presence.
I know where I’ll be this weekend. What about you?
Robert Bush is a freelance jazz writer who has been exploring the San Diego improvised music scene for more than 30 years.