The Jazzcat

The SF Jazz Collective 2008 at Royce Hall

by on Apr.04, 2008, under News


Eight of the finest players in the music grace the stage

here tonight at Royce Hall. The San Francisco Jazz Collective Organization must

be commended for their honor, respect and true dedication to upholding and advancing

the integrity of jazz music. There always seems to have to be a hero for jazz

music; someone, something or some group to keep the light shining so that

America and the world still know that we will always be here to represent

innovation, change and creativity on this earth. Although the members of the

group have changed many times in its five-year existence, the degree of quality

on the highest level has never been compromised.


Renee Rosnes and Miguel Zenon remain to be the original

members of the Collective with Eric Harland and Matt Penman joining in the

second year. Just recently a shift has taken place and four new members have

arrived on the scene. Bobby Hutcherson, Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman and

Andre Hayward will surely be missed but, at the same time the excitement of

Stefon Harris, Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano and Robin Eubanks offer to be an

extraordinarily delightful twist in sound dimensions and dynamics. As the

players change, so changes the music but, only in terms of individual tone,

phrasing and personality, never in terms of excellence!


Click picture above for interview

Miguel Zenon takes the first solo for the evening and his

clean and crisp embrasure melts over the percussive foundation like smooth and

creamy Kahlua on sparkling rocks. I just had an interview with Miguel and we

talked about the Collective, his approach to the music, his native San Juan

Puerto Rico sound as well as his brand new album “Awake” released on April 1st

of this year; a young gifted genius, who finds himself quite well in the

mental, musical, mathematical equation of this organization quite easily. He

speaks with the audience and lays down the mission of the Collective.


Dave Douglas replaces Nic at night on trumpet. I have heard

so much from and about this cat however this is my first experience listening

live. I have programmed several of his discs when on the radio so I am somewhat

familiar with his sound and creative abilities. He has got the fire and

harmonizes quite well with the front line, blowing lovely spring breezes of

warm and cool pastels. Stefon is such a vibrant, passionate and colorful

technician always offering a new dynamic with grandiose themes, shades,

textures and cool applications.


Click picture above for Stefon Harris interview

Each member of the Collective as you know, writes and

arranges compositions for the group to perform. All are exquisite and have

their personal flavors yet you feel the teamwork in the music with the symmetry

of sound. There is no one spokesperson for the band and at certain times during

the performance, different members will get up and share some knowledge on a

few of the compositions as well as introduce upcoming pieces either written by

the honoree or another member of the Collective.


Click picture of Joshua Redman for interview

I was at the performance in San Francisco when Joshua Redman

passed the baton to Joe Lovano. In an interview with Josh, I used the word

torch and he specifically mentioned that this was not a torch in the sense of

handing down something to continue on by any means. He used to play with Joe

many, many moons ago, has much respect and has gained some knowledge from the

endeavors and his replacement is a fitting selection to continue the mission of

the music.


Click picture for interview with Robin Eubanks

Dave Douglas gets on the mic to give love to Joe for the

wonderful arrangement and to introduce the newest member of the band trombonist

Robin Eubanks with his original piece “Breakthrough”. It is a great surprise to

see Robin Eubanks in the trombone seat. This chair has been swinging with

different cats every since the inception of the band and each time it has been

filled with one of the young majors of the bone business with truth, justice

and excellence prevailing every time! Robin takes the lower register and rises

to the occasion while mixing, matching, weaving and blending through the brass

section marvelously!


One of the amazing abilities with an octet is its

flexibility to morph into a trio, quartet, sextet or whatever combination it

wants instantly between or even during a composition.  During a seamless transition, Joe so smoothly

romanticizes a luscious ballad as the octet turns into quartet, with Renee,

Matt and Eric in the rhythm, and then the rest of the band come back to take

the bridge armed with color and exploding with fire!


This season the Collective celebrates and gives homage to

another living master of jazz music, the one and only Wayne Shorter. The man

whose deep depths of thought, imagination and super natural ability to

transcribe the spirit of life’s visual images and experiences into soul moving

emotive rhythms and melodies divided by perplexion to the summation of space

and simplicity to the third power.  The

SF Organization has been impeccable in its selection of Coltrane, Monk,

Ornette, Herbie and now Wayne to make sincere statements about their stand for

excellence with regard to this art form. With their vision, directive and power

of the audible spotlight, this music has the opportunity to reach outside the

walls of the knowing and into the million minds of mediocrity and possibly tug

on the chain; and then there was light!


Click picture for interview with Eric Harland

I am almost speechless when it comes to describing my main

man Eric Harland. This cat doesn’t create a feeling he is the feeling. He lives

the music and his expansive sound is the bridge to the global historic

futuristic rhythm that is unifying the spirit of the music. Stefon said that

the band doesn’t work at the music but they play at the music. It is created

with excellent minds having fun at toying with audible realities to spin

inspiration to provoke emotion. Be free from the control, feel it and let it

take you there!


Purchase the Music!

Matt Penman is the resident vintner of the band. He calls

his brand of wine “MAIDENS FOOT” and I am sure that the same degree of talent

that goes into making a great bottle of vino is present when it comes to his

composing musical treasures.  His piece

features Stefon and really explores a variety of time meters as well as changes

and sensitivity of sound, small and large.


Renee remains to be the magnificent master of the melody,

the driving force, the storyteller, the peacemaker, the power, the Shaman of

the music! She arranged a couple of Wayne tunes, “Deanna”, written for the

lovely daughter of Flora Purim and Airto Moriera and “Footprints”, a Wayne

Shorter standard. Think of lush rolling clouds of precious sunshine as the wind

breezes past the lips of blooming flowers and you will start to feel the

picture. Matt Pennman’s solo plays like a safari transporting the music through

the “Footprints” of distant lands. The story, the journey, the music!


Life is all about capturing moments in time and storing

those experiences and elations to be called up in future memories that freeze

time as a picture and an emotion. A peek that can take us back for a moment and

provide us with the hope of happiness and joy that we once lived through the

music. You have to have something to pass on to the next generation. If you

wish to have a lavishly music experience on high, this is it! The SF

Collective, see it, experience it and pass it on!


LeRoy Downs

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