Live at Jazz a Vienne
This July 2007 public TV broadcast DVD offers loads of strong, often joyous music along with fairly unimaginative visuals from Vienne, France, capturing the SFJAZZ Collective in a lineup slightly different from its recent two-CD concert tour recording. In place of tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman and vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson are Joe Lovano and Stefon Harris, respectively.
The 96-minute document, like the aforementioned CD release, is a mixture of the compositions of Thelonious Monk, as well as original works by group members. Rounding out the group are regulars Dave Douglas, trumpet; Andre Hayward, trombone; Miguel Zenón, alto sax; Renee Rosnes, piano; Matt Penman, bass; and Eric Harland, drums. In addition to Monk’s “Brilliant Corners,” “Epistrophy,” “Crepuscule with Nellie,” “San Francisco Holiday” and “Criss Cross” are “Lion’s Gate” by Rosnes, “Haast Pass” by Penman, “San Francisco Suite” by Douglas and “Union” by Harland.
While taking its own stance with regard to Monk’s music, the octet does honor to these classics, although some of the ensembles are a bit ragged when compared with the double-CD offering. Especially impressive throughout is the improvising of Lovano and Zenón, particularly noteworthy on “Union.” Zenón—whose intensely fiery stylings are gaining growing respect—and Douglas stand out on “Haast Pass,” as does Harris’ playing on “Union.” And the gruffly forceful Lovano roars through the opening “Brilliant Corners.” These highlights in no way lessen the contributions of the other group members, with Hayward, Rosnes and the rhythm team also offering exciting solo moments.