Archive for April, 2005
Randal Kline, the
executive director of the non-profit organization known as “SF Jazz”
steps out on stage to greet the audience at the Walt Disney Concert
Hall. As he has done for each of the performances that I have seen of
the SF Jazz Collective, Randal runs down a little about the mission of
the organization. SF Jazz stands for the growth and celebration of the
music and the audience as an ever-changing live art form.
As we continue to
experience jazz in 2005 and beyond, it is essential to respect and
explore the polar opposite sides of the jazz spectrum. Their
similarities, their differences and the essence that is the
deoxyribonucleic acid that holds the structure of the spectrum together
through the vortex of time.
Jazz music is similar
to human cell division because each time you collaborate with another
player, a new bond is formed consisting of one part of each player.
That bond spreads, replicates, separates, mutates and transforms with
every musical exchange and interaction. Can you imagine the potential
wealth of knowledge that each musician has living within them?
Now flash to the SF
Collective: Joshua Redman, Bobby Hutcherson, Miguel Zenon, Nicholas
Payton, Renee Rosnes, Issac Smith, Eric Harland and Matt Pennman. These
cats are like the superheros of jazz that have combined their musical
powers and created a dynamic entity that represents a monolithic point
in the spectrum. A point that is important to witness and experience
now because even though you may not be playing an instrument, your
audible participation allows you to take a piece of the strand with you
for your future benefit and enhancement as well.
I am always very
excited to see this band of master musicians because of their
dedication to the music, their choice of legends to represent and their
collaborative efforts that are the results of historic replicating
The snap snap snap of
Joshua’s fingers kick off the first tune in a “Moments Notice” Last
year it was Ornette and this year it is the music of the Trane! One
of the things that I say to people when they start talking to me about
jazz is, “Quick, name 3 of your favorite jazz musicians in 5 second GO!
One, two, three, four, five, STOP!” You would be amazed what some
people come up with. For me, this usually separates the pseudos out
instantly and I can decide on which hemisphere to have a jazz
conversation on or not to have it at all. But, if you ask this question
to the SF Collective, the answer would be an impressive Ornette
Coleman, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock. A conversation that I could
engage in for hours!
On Naima, Bobby’s
beautiful melody resonates throughout the entire concert hall. This is
a musician who is loved by all and all of that love, heart and
compassion for sound is present behind each mallet stroke. You hear
this gorgeous, continuous, emotionally moving, hedonistic tone that
sustains forever in a garden of happiness!
The wide influence of
John Coltrane’s music is practically synonymous with the word jazz.
Joshua is always the eloquent spokesman for the group and he speaks
between pieces about some of that influence, spiritual implications and
the beautiful complexities that Coltrane compositions provide.
“Africa” seems to be
a common theme for my main man “E”(Eric Harland). Every time he plays a
tune with the word “Africa” in it, he just transcends the music and
places you right in the heart of the motherland. Weather he is playing
with the Collective, Charles Lloyd or Mc Coy Tyner, Eric’s
sensibilities and natural versatility just spill out all over his drum
kit. He must have the elders hovering above with smiles and plenty of
nods of approval. A Cartier, a Rolex, a Brightling with the durability
of a Timex. Tick, Tick, Tack! He is truly a gifted individual. I got a
kick out of watching Bobby sit back and watch Eric get down. In his
smiles of elation, you could see that Bobby’s lovely blessings opened
the door to the drum master hall of fame and that there was an empty
chair with Eric’s name on it. What an honor!
For those of you who
have not yet grasped or experienced the beauty of John Cotrane music
fear not! This is Trane beautified and you will be lavished with long
tone love. The front line horn section has a dynamic sound full of
four-part luster. Of course the sound at the Disney has to be on of the
most pristine that there is. I tell you what; if you ever visit the
Hollywood Bowl or the Walt Disney Concert Hall, try one of their
brownies. The music taste just like that!
The one cat that I am
not so familiar with is bass player Matt Pennman. He is from Austria
and Matt holds up the bottom extremely well on a bed of well placed
creativity, especially on a tune that he wrote called “Sega Games”.
Renee, of course, is dreamy. She is so fluid with chord progressions
that take off in all of the right directions. She is a regular musical
Part of the mission
of the SF Jazz Collective, as you may recall, is exploration. Each
player has taken their own compositions and bestowed it upon the
Collective for the group to add their collaborative flavor. Tonight we
heard original pieces from Matt, Miguel, Nicholas, Bobby and Joshua.
Isaac Smith really
gets to stretch out on a few of these compositions. It is so great to
have one of Los Angeles’s fine players representing the future of the
music. The trombone is such a beautifully sounding instrument and Isaac
cuts his quarter of horn pie extremely well. I hear Isaacs humor in his
playing as well which is delightful to recognize.
Nicholas is like the
cream that sits on top of a tasty drink! His tone is pure, clean and
lovely as that starburst blasts it’s twinkle on the rim of his shinny
trumpet. His piece “Scrambled Eggs” was based on the changes to Chick
Corea’s “Humpty Dumpty” Only this was Humpty with some ear rings,
Armani shades, a Kangol worn backwards and the fall off the wall only
improved his cool ass stroll!
“2&2” had a
funky, hip creative phrasing that pauses in a silence which creates
it’s own sound and then flourishes with colors of melodic love and
conversations that speak with so much passion in their statements. This
is just a small look into the creative brain of Miguel Zenon!
Matt’s opening bass
solo was spotlighted on Joshua’s “Half Full”. Miguel’s flute soured
over the most interesting mix of sound. I think that out of all of the
original compositions that we heard that night, Joshua’s piece had
everyone in the band contributing a significant portion and it sounded
like this piece was written especially for each of these particular
musicians. He certainly possesses that Ellington like quality.
They continued to
play “Cresent” and came back onstage for an Encore, performing a
composition by Bobby called, “Song for Peggy”. Next year it will be the
music of Herbie Hancock and in May of this year, a new SF Jazz
Collective 3 disc set will be released. Don’t ask questions, do the
right thing and just buy it. It’s your life!