SFjazz Collective, by David Hicks
My Music pick this month isn’t a single album, but an entire catalog by the SFJAZZ Collective. My knowledge of Jazz music is far from comprehensive, so I can’t recommend the SFJAZZ Collective’s catalog to you in any way other than to say I like their music. But for me, that goes a long way due to the pickiness of my preferences for Jazz. I was unfamiliar with their work until Jana Dagdagan’s visit to my home last month. Jana’s partner is the group’s bassist Matt Brewer. And, I’m not promoting the group’s albums on Jana’s behalf as Matt, being new to the group, doesn’t yet appear on any of the groups albums, though we can look forward to hearing him soon as the group releases a new CD at the end of each year’s performances, which happen not only at the SFJazz Center but include an expansive World-wide touring schedule.The SFJAZZ Collective’s website will tell you that their mission each year is to perform fresh arrangements of works by modern masters and newly commissioned pieces by each Collective member. Over their 14-year existence, the Collective has paid tribute in their music to artists like John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Michael Jackson, Ornette Coleman, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and others.As their music has varied, so have the members of the Collective. If there was anyone that appeared to act as a leader of this ensemble, you could probably point to saxophonist Miguel Zenón who was with the group from its inception in 2004 until 2016, just based upon his longevity with the SFJC alone. But the soul of the Octet and its ever-evolving lineup seems to come from the “Collective” mission of the group. This is not a Borg Collective, designed to think in one direction, but a group charged with the task of reimagining and keeping alive the classic Jazz music while also creating new music inspired by the creative minds of the players in the band.In addition to saxophonist Miguel Zenón, the group has featured, (in no particular order and not comprehensively listed), saxophonists Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Mark Turner, and David Sánchez; vibraphonists Bobby Hutcherson, Stefon Harris, and Warren Wolf; drummers Eric Harland, Brian Blade and Obed Calvaire; trumpeters Avishai Cohen, Nicholas Payton, Dave Douglas, Sean Jones, and Etienne Charles; pianists Renee Rosnes and Edward Simon; bassists Robert Hurst and Matt Brewer; and trombonists Andre Hayward, Josh Roseman and Robin Eubanks.
So, if you’re a born and bred Jazz lover you could start with any or all of their music, and you’ll have a lot to choose from as every year they’ve been together has produced a diverse collection of music on CD. If you’re a bit picky about your Jazz, like I am, you could start with your favorite musician or composer from the list above and maybe listen to some reinterpreted jazzed up versions of Stevie Wonder or Michael Jackson music.
Check out the links below to sample some of their music.