SFJAZZ Collective: Phoenix, AZ, March 21, 2013

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SFJAZZ Collective
Musical Instrument Museum
Phoenix, AZ
March 21, 2013

The SFJAZZ Collective delivered an intense contemporary-jazz performance that showcased the playing and composing skills of this stellar octet, sponsored since 2004 by the non-profit SFJAZZ.

The Collective's ninth annual tour is celebrating the genius of Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
—the sixth keyboardist to be honored by the Collective—in new arrangements of the pianist's works, as well as original compositions, one each from the Collective's eight members. Previous tours have saluted saxophonists Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
(2004), John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
(2005) and Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
)2008), and pianists Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
(2006), Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
(2007), McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
McCoy Tyner
b.1938
piano
(2009), Horace Silver
Horace Silver
Horace Silver
1928 - 2014
piano
(2010) and Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
(2011).

Opening with "Matrix," from Corea's early acoustic period, the ensemble delineated the chart's powerful tension-and-release via alternating horn fragmentations. "500 Miles High," from Return to Forever
Return to Forever
Return to Forever

band/orchestra
's Light as a Feather (Polydor, 1973), may have lacked the ethereal voice of Flora Purim
Flora Purim
Flora Purim
b.1942
vocalist
, but alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon
Miguel Zenon
Miguel Zenon
b.1976
saxophone
blazed a fresh path, followed by explorations from arranger/vibraphonist Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
Stefon Harris
b.1973
vibraphone
and pianist Edward Simon
Edward Simon
Edward Simon
b.1969
piano
.

Zenón's "Grand Opening," written for the January premiere of the SF JAZZ Center, employed the four horns in duet formats, trumpeter Avishai Cohen
Avishai Cohen
Avishai Cohen
b.1970
bass
commanding treble turf via fiery contrapuntal exchanges with tenor man David Sanchez
David Sanchez
David Sanchez
b.1968
sax, tenor
, as drummer Obed Calvaire propelled with powerful intricacies. Simon's original, "Incessant Desire," was sparked by one of the best solos of the evening from Sánchez, his explosive riffs contrasting against the electronic overtones created by trombonist Robin Eubanks
Robin Eubanks
Robin Eubanks
b.1955
trombone
.

Bassist Matt Penman wrote the pop-style "Vegan Las Vegas," providing a foil for Zenón to rocket through elaborate runs, in contrast with Simon's minimalism and the tune's soulful four-horn harmonies. Sánchez's arrangement of Corea's "Crystal Silence" reflected the ethereal simpatico of the pianist's original 1972 ECM duo album of the same name with vibraphonist Gary Burton
Gary Burton
Gary Burton
b.1943
vibraphone
, via Harris and Simon's interplay. The multifaceted Eubanks wrote bright horn opportunities that boosted the tempo of "Shifting Centers" into a hard-driving set closer.

The musicians moved into the wings, but vigorous applause quickly brought them back for Harris' "Let's Take a Trip to the Sky," dedicated to his wife and opening with dreamy piano moves accented by climbing harmony horn lines and supported by the vibes' rich depth and dimension.

The group's well-chosen name accurately conveys the concept that all members contribute to the aggregation, which legitimately could have been called the SFJAZZ All-Stars, so formidable is each of these musicians in playing prowess and writing ability. But it is the dynamic synergy of the ensemble that results in its exhilarating sound. With members from Puerto Rico, Israel, Venezuela, New Zealand, New York and Philadelphia, the band is living proof that jazz remains an international language.

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