Online since August 2002

Rising to the top of the heap

Reviewed August 2010

By Louisa West / Jimmy Patton & Friends

Self-released: 2010

To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing the artist's home page.

San Diego jazz fans have been so spoiled with world-class talent for so long that it sometimes takes us a bit longer than it should to recognize up and coming new talent in America's Finest City.

Such is the case with guitarist Jimmy Patton, overshadowed by the more established Peter Sprague and Fred Benedetti, and flautist Louisa West, overlooked in favor of Lori Bell and Holly Hofmann.

A new dualy led recording, "Sambarina," shows that West and Patton are indeed among San Diego's elite players – possessed of superb musical vision and taste, virtuosic technique and a vast jazz vocabulary to draw on in their solos.

Absolutely drenched in a tropical beach vibe, the music on "Sambarina" brings in everything from the obvious (by the title) Brazilian grooves to Caribbean rhythms to Mexican and country-western theme and figures. Tying it all together is a straight-ahead jazz structure, ably laid down by Grant Clarkson (bass), Russell Bizzett (drums) and Enrique Platas (percussion).

Highlights include a Brazilified yet instantly recognizable uptempo vamp on the Dave Brubeck gem "Take Five," a fairly non-tropical take on Jobim's "Luiza," and Patton's own feather-light opening title track. Throughout, Patton shows a nice dexterity switching from rhythm to lead guitar, able to play with a percussive undertone or to lay it all out in a linear solo. West has a distinctive tone to her playing, rich and textured.

The combination of tasteful choices in covers (they also tackle Chick Corea, Milton Nascimento and Sergio Mendes), Patton's own stellar compositions (he wrote four of the 10 tracks) and the fantastic playing makes this one of the best jazz albums to yet come out of San Diego.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).

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