All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

292

SFJAZZ Collective at Nighttown

Matt Marshall By

Sign in to view read count
SFJAZZ Collective
Nighttown
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
October 16, 2010



Since 2004, the SFJAZZ Collective, an octet of world-class musicians in the prime of their careers (no "legends" meat wagon, this), has toured the world, spreading the jazz gospel. Two members remain from the initial group—vibes player Stefon Harris and alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon. And, while certainly a vehicle to promote its parent organization, SFJAZZ, the nonprofit jazz institution that, among other things, presents the annual San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Collective can also be seen as a dutiful, vital instrument in that mythically quixotic quest of saving jazz. Reports of jazz's demise have, of course, been greatly exaggerated since at least the 1970s. But it was, nevertheless, encouraging and invigorating on this night to witness the youthful crowd SFJAZZ Collective drew into Nighttown for the late set. The whoops, cheers and gasps from the large pockets of 20-somethings sounded a refreshing switch in a room where, on a given night, a person under 50 can feel lost within a sonically well-appointed retirement party.



Choosing the music of hard-bop pianist/composer Horace Silver as their cause célèbre for the 2010 campaign (past years have featured explorations of compositions by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter), the group bookended the set with Silver tunes, opening with "Cape Verdean Blues" and "Lonely Woman" and encoring with "Peace," an anthemic weeper meant to relieve the audience of its mania. In between were numbers from three of the group's members: "The Devil in the Details" by Harris, "Collective Presence" by pianist Edward Simon and "Harlandian" by drummer Eric Harland. But, whether blowing through the Silver material or their own fare, the group continually impressed with its ability to put a truly collective stamp on each number. With soloists of this magnitude, one might expect the musicians to approach the show as a pickup gig and launch into solo gymnastics after a token statement of a theme. And, to be sure, that solo spirit and execution were there. But the collective drive did not suffer because of it. On many occasions, the group rose along a shallow slope of ad hoc construction, building almost in secret until suddenly overtaking the listener with a heavily layered, exhilarating wall of sound.

But of the solos... Harris was crisp and inventive from the opening number, and by the fifth, his unexpected shifts over the aluminum bars loosed a collective swoon from the audience. Zenón and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner nicely complemented one another—the altoist with a full, bluesy tone, warped to vaguely Middle Eastern effect on "Lonely Woman"; Turner, his features cut with the tragic severity of a Pedro Costa hero, bobbed like a pumpjack to spring hollow-metal bop runs. Trombonist Luis Bonilla, subbing for Robin Eubanks on the band's October dates, impressed with warm yet exacting solo flare, garnering the audience's salute on "Lonely Woman." While trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, filling Avishai Cohen's spot in October, held nothing back, his sharp metal blasts at times stretching into pain-ridden, squawking pleas. "Collective Presence" gave bassist Matt Penman space to stretch and work the higher reaches of his instrument over brushed drums and choice string plucks from the innards of Simon's piano. For his part, Simon favored rolling, melodic lines that were increasingly chopped the further they stretched, breaking into abstract, tinny forms. Harland provided nice rhythmic shifts throughout and, on the grippingly disjointed opening of "Harlandian," demonstrated his expertise at constructing and guiding the music of mates Akinmusire and Simon.

As readers of this site know (and as fans at Nighttown witnessed firsthand on this night), jazz is alive and well in the 21st Century. In fact, there may never have been a period in the music's history that has featured such variety and deep exploration of the form's boundaries. So how wise of the SFJAZZ Collective, something of a latter-day The Jazz Messengers within the current mix, to honor Silver, a founding member of that seminal band through which so many masters moved. The beat goes on.

Photo Credit

Matt Marshall

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Abdullah Ibrahim at the Michigan Theater Live Reviews
Abdullah Ibrahim at the Michigan Theater
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: April 25, 2018
Read The Jane Getter Premonition at Iridium Live Reviews
The Jane Getter Premonition at Iridium
by Roger Weisman
Published: April 24, 2018
Read Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre Live Reviews
Liberty Ellman Trio at Crescent Arts Centre
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 22, 2018
Read Tallinn Music Week 2018 Live Reviews
Tallinn Music Week 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: April 19, 2018
Read James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum Live Reviews
James Blood Ulmer and the Thing at Bochum Art Museum
by Phillip Woolever
Published: April 17, 2018
Read Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano Live Reviews
Jocelyn Medina at Jazz at Kitano
by Tyran Grillo
Published: April 16, 2018
Read "Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre" Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read "Impressions of Monterey Jazz Festival 2017: MJF At 60" Live Reviews Impressions of Monterey Jazz Festival 2017: MJF At 60
by Walter Atkins
Published: October 6, 2017
Read "Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House" Live Reviews Mark Hagan's Jazz Salon At The Old 76 House
by David A. Orthmann
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon" Live Reviews Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 29, 2017
Read "Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest" Live Reviews Never Alone: Reflections on the 2018 Winter Jazzfest
by Tyran Grillo
Published: January 21, 2018