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Rob Thorsen: Lasting Impression

Dan McClenaghan By

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San Diego-based bassist Rob Thorsen seems to be shining up a '50's-'60's jazz classics lesson with the first four cuts on Lasting Impression. The set opens with Charlie Parker's "Dexterity," a crisp, jaunty take on the classic, with Gilbert Castellanos—another San Diego jazz scene stalwart—sitting in on trumpet, giving the tune a bright, fluid feeling. John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is done in piano trio mode, with Josh Nelson's upbeat keyboard workout making the melody shine before he accompanies with a dexterous finesse on the leader's solo.

Jackie McLean's "Little Melonae," a tune that always sounds like it's pushing the mainstream boundaries to the edge, gets the standard straight-ahead quintet treatment with rhythm section and two horns, Castellanos' trumpet again teamed with tenor saxophonist Bob Wendel in the front line for some fittingly edgy interplay. Charlie Chaplin's beautiful "Smile," another trio workout that features Geoffrey Keezer on piano, on a rendition that gives Thorsen another chance to take the melody down deep.

Thorsen leaves the classical area with his own "Milagro Cafe," a tune inspired by the bassist's Costa Rican vacation. The tune starts out with a descending four note riff and a lurking-in-the-dark vibe that blossoms into bright tones, with Castellanos' primary color out front with a particularly inspired piano turn by Josh Nelson.

Gershwin's familiar "The Man I Love" bubbles with a spicy Afro-Cuban feel, riding high on Duncan Moore's drumming and the hot percolation of Charlie Chavez's congas.

On a set that showcases many moods and colors set solidly into the mainstream jazz tradition, the Thorsen-penned "Cigarone," the second of his Costa Rican songs, was inspired by the San Jose (the country's capitol) cicadas, who were in full song during the bassist's stay. The sound is brooding chamber jazz, featuring John Rekovic's alto flute and Ben Wendel's bassoon accompanied by beautifully exploratory piano work by Keezer.

Thorsen closes the set with "A Wish Upon Us," an unaccompanied bass solo inspired by a couple of San Diego street musicians. His singing bass lines are perfect wrap-up to a vibrant set of jazz sounds.

Track Listing: Dexterity; Giant Steps; Little Melonae; Smile; Milagro Cafe; The Man I Love; Dance of the Freaky Circles; Cigarones; It's All Right With Me; Wish Upon Us.

Personnel: Rob Thorsen: bass; Geoffrey Keezer: piano (3, 4, 6-8); Josh Nelson: piano (1, 2, 5, 9); Gilbert Castellanos: trumpet, flugelhorn (1, 3, 5, 7, 8); Ben Wendel: tenor saxophone: (3, 5, 7, 9) and bassoon (8); Duncan Moore: drums; Charlie Chavez: congas (6); John Rekovics: alto flute (8).

Title: Lasting Impression | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Pacific Coast Jazz


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