SFJAZZ Collective: Live at Jazz a Vienne

Russ Musto By

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SFJazz Collective

Live at Jazz à Vienne



The SFJazz Collective is arguably the most perfectly conceived formation ever to deal with the seemingly contradictory forces in jazz of tradition versus innovation and composition versus improvisation. The DVD Live At Jazz à Vienne, recorded in France during the band's 2007 international tour, is a fine example of just how well it lives up to the imperatives of creative jazz.

The genius of the concept behind the SF Jazz Collective is the balance struck between repertorial reconstruction and newly-commissioned compositions. Each year since its inception, the band has presented fresh arrangements of works by one outstanding jazz composer. The 2007 season revisited the music of Thelonious Monk with original orchestrations of "Brilliant Corners," "Epistrophy," "San Francisco Holiday and "Criss Cross —by pianist Renee Rosnes, altoist Miguel Zenon, bassist Matt Penman and trumpeter Dave Douglas, respectively—that breathed renewed life into those timeless classics.

The program's four originals are impressive as well, demonstrating the developing compositional sophistication of the group's members. Rosnes' "Lion's Gate is a high-energy, Blue Note-style blowing vehicle with extended solos from trombonist Andre Hayward and the composer. "Haast Pass," by Penman, features animated solo passages by Douglas and Zenon. The disc's centerpiece, an ambitious triptych by Douglas titled "San Francisco Suite," brings out inspired contributions by Zenon on the first movement ("Alcatraz ), Douglas on the second ("Amoeba ), and Penman and saxophonist Joe Lovano on the third ("Assisi ). The concert's pre-encore closer, drummer Eric Harland's "Union," is an exhilarating outing, with an intensely satisfying unaccompanied Lovano-Zenon dialogue, followed by a fiery vibes interlude by Stefon Harris and a show- stopping drum exposition.

Tracks: Brilliant Corners; Epistrophy; Lion's Gate; Crepuscule with Nellie; Haast Pass; San Francisco Suite: San Francisco Holiday; Union; Criss Cross.

Personnel: Joe Lovano: saxophone; Dave Douglas: trumpet; Stefon Harris: vibes; Miguel Zenón: alto sax; Andre Hayward: trombone; Renee Rosnes: piano; Matt Penman: bass; Eric Harland: drums.

Production Notes: Originally filmed for broadcast on French Public television, the DVD captures the all- star octet live in concert in Vienne, France on July 10, 2007. Live at Jazz Vienne is available exclusively via sfjazz.org and from the SFJAZZ Store located at 3 Embarcadero Center, Lobby Level, San Francisco, CA 94111. All region DVD format.

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