Friday, February 12, 2010

San Francisco Jazz Collective: History & Beyond

SF Jazz Collective (group; 2004)

Founded in 2004, SF Jazz Collective is a non-profit collective (usually an octet) of rotating musicians (young and old guard). It's main members have been founder Joshua Redman, vibe legend, Bobby Hutcherson along with pianist, Rene Rosnes, Matt Penman (bass), Miguel Zenon (sax), Eric Harland (drums) and new members each season.

Some (including myself) have called it the West Coast version of Jazz At Lincoln Center, but that all-too simplifies it, and does not do this incredible ensemble justice. Unlike JALC's over-reliance on Wynton Marsalis and the New Orleans heritage, SF Jazz Collective has dedicated each year's performances to different legendary composers (Coltrane, Coleman, Hancock, Shorter among others).

In addition, SFJC members also perform their own original material commissioned specifically for the ensemble. The collectives first two releases are widely available (SF Jazz Collective and SF Jazz Collective 2) and include music of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane, respectfully. The ensemble has since recorded seven albums (double and triple CD length) of material that is available exclusively through the SF Jazz Collective website. SFJC perform an annual residency that each of the aforementioned CDs is culled from. They also tour (mostly California and selected European dates) annually. The current lineup includes Joe Lovano (tenor saxophone), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Renee Rosnes (piano), Miguel Zenon (alto saxophone and flute), Matt Penman (bass), Robin Eubanks (trombone) and Eric Harland (drums).

Each album is truly fantastic and a real joy to hear how they reinterpret some classic material. I have yet to get the chance to see the group live (although I do own a DVD featuring Thelonious Monk material) but that is not the same as being there. If you are in the San Francisco area you should definitely take the opportunity to check them out - and drop us a line when you do. The group's CDs are a little on pricey side but some of them are either two or three CDs and the material you get makes it well worth the purchase.

It's an undeniably skilled and unique ensemble forging a new direction while maintaining the history of the elders. SF Jazz Collective is a group you should all experience.

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