The Jazzcat

Tag: The Jazz Bakery

The San Francisco Jazz Collective at Zipper Hall

by on Oct.20, 2013, under Events

SF Jazz at Colburn

Sf Jazz at Colburn’s Zipper Hall

Eight pieces of brilliance as the San Francisco Jazz Collective, the ever morphing amoeba of exuberance hits the stage displaying the quality of mastery that it has become known for.  A sound that is big, always paying respect to those giant steps that walk before us.  I see a few new faces in the band, Obed Calvaire seated in the drum chair, and Warren Wolf swingin’ them things!  

I listen as I feel the vibration of a Stevie composition. Stevie Wonder? I thought they were celebrating the music of Chick Corea? Maybe it’s just a “Vision” in my mind, and an awesome arrangement at that! Well, Chick was last year which tells me that I slipped up somewhere along the way and missed out. This year SF Jazz is celebrating 10 beautiful years of solid sound. For those who have not had the opportunity to experience the Collective, each year they pay homage to one of our extraordinary monuments in the business. Folks like Wayne, McCoy, Ornette, Trane, Hutch, Horace, Monk, Herbie, Chick and interestingly enough Stevie, which says so much about respect for music. Now if you can’t recognize the artists by me only mentioning a first or last name, see me after class.

Obed Calvaire is holding down the head-swinging undertone as the Collective floats and swirls Wonder’s “Vision”. Warren Wolf is a delight with Brother Ed Simon making the melody swing in that new jack kind if way. What is great about the Collective is that they not only arrange the music of the giants, their commission includes composing new compositions as well, written specifically for the sound of the members in the band. Arranging the works of our legends and creating original music is the flower and the concept that keeps the music growing, a great necessity in this ever-present world of mediocrity, bureaucracy and glass ceiling lifestyles. Fresh music is potent brainpower and the content keeps us sharp, thinking and open! The audience is listening!

The combination of fresh old school and brilliant new school expands the palette of sonic delight. It keeps the old folks smiling and digging the new swing while the youngsters reminisce their parents past and rise on new clouds of cognitive contemporary bliss. Two generations groovin’ together creates conversation between young and old. Think about it, a level playing field where each generation teaches the other instead of thinking that the other is out of touch. Young and old sharing ideas with each other which beats the usual one on one relationship with an electronic device. Who knew that jazz was the key to saving the American family structure!

First up to the microphone is Miguel Zenon welcoming the audience and introducing the band. He is one of the original members of this 10-year old institution. They started with a composition by Dave Douglas, a piece called “Alcatraz” from a San Francisco suite. Tonight they are playing the music from the last decade, which gives them great joy to go back and re-visit some of their favorite music from the past.
“Grand Opening” is an original piece written last year by Miguel to celebrate the grand opening of the new SF Jazz Building in San Francisco, which has the feeling of new, wondrous and welcoming feelings. The SF Jazz Center is the first of its kind built specifically for representing and presenting America’s greatest art form in a manner that truly speaks art, education, culture and music. I have not been myself but just the fact that we have a major million dollar facility built in support of jazz is not only amazing, it is a true test of the resilience of creative contemporary music, Jazz!

Speaking of new monuments built specifically for jazz, Ruth Price who is a tireless curator for jazz here in Los Angeles continues to present the best in the music against any and all odds. Yes, the old Jazz Bakery that we knew, loved and spent so much time experiencing the best in the music is no longer there but Ruth continues to present at venues all over Los Angeles until our New Jazz Bakery is Built! The property and the blue prints are all in place and once the capital is raised, the world will have two West Coast, free standing, architecturally gorgeous platforms that feature the best in jazz and demonstrate to the world that our music is our life!

Tonight we are at the Colburn School’s Zipper Auditorium and there is not a bad seat in the house.

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“Home”, Avishai Cohen’s composition is one that focuses on the meaning of home, what makes a home and where it is. As you can imagine musicians on the road all of the time must contemplate the feeling often. I know Miguel Zenon is thinking about his new beautiful baby girl as he plays, Avishai reveals his expression; David Sanchez opens with a lamenting interlude and Matt Penman closing with the solace of arco. It is a feeling of longing and loneliness. This is one of the reasons why our love and support of this great art is so appreciated amongst all musicians. Their life presents us with a gift of sound and we can return the sentiment simply by showing love, appreciation and our thanks.

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One of the things that I think every artist should do during their performance is talk to their audience. So many cats get up, bang out their compositions, take a bow and roll out. The knowledge is so stratified with those who get every, phrase note and implication and those who don’t have a clue. Talking to the audience evens out the streams of consciousness giving those who may be new to experiencing this music a starting point.
Matt has also been in the collective for nine years. He introduced a tune that Joe Lovano brought in when the band was celebrating Wayne’s music, “Infant Eyes” and dedicated it to a young lady in the audience for her birthday. Robin Eubanks lights up and takes control of the stage on this one with a solo that sets up the band for a big sound. This almost sounds like a Stefon Harris arrangement. Ed Simon talks about supporting the Jazz Bakery. He closes the evening with a piece called “Half Full” a composition written by the original artistic director in year one, Joshua Redman.

And in an instant, the music has concluded leaving us once again enriched by the nutrients of a sonic jazz presentation; vitamins for the heart, brain, soul and body. You can’t ask for much more especially when the encore is a Bobby Hutcherson composition. This music brings us together in these moments that we call our lives. Take it in and be about the music so that the music can be about you!

LeRoy Downs


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