Live 2006: 3rd Annual Concert Tour
The fruits of the SFJazz Collective’s third season gave all eight of its members the chance to display both their writing prowess and pay homage to Herbie Hancock. In the interest of challenge, they chose some of the pianist’s deeper cuts rather than going for the “hits.” The two-disc Live 2006 comes from different dates on the Collective’s Spring 2006 tour.
The lineup has remained relatively stable from the previous year, with saxophonists Joshua Redman and Miguel Zenon, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, pianist Renee Rosnes, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Hartland. Trombonist Andre Hayward was the only newcomer. Gil Goldstein handled all the arrangements. One thing is certain: The group is not afraid of stretching out either when soloing or writing pieces with multiple sections. A number of the tracks either come close to or surpass the 10-minute mark. Redman, the Collective’s Artistic Director, contributed the opening “Parallelogram.” It begins by gradually accelerating on a melody that uses all facets of the group’s sonorities before going into a theme that gives its composer and pianist Renee Rosnes a chance to impress. Among the highlights—and there are many—of the other originals, are Payton’s staccato, occasionally jagged “Sudoku” and Zenon’s “Collective Overture,” that constantly changes shape and gives Zenon a deserved spotlight before it climaxes with some dissonant horn pops.
Of the six diverse Hancock tracks, “Maiden Voyage” is the only standard among them. Otherwise, the Collective tackles the fusion era in “Actual Proof” and “Tell Me a Bedtime Story,” the hard bop of “And What If I Don’t” and two from his Miles Davis tenure, “Little One” and “Riot.” The latter two sound almost a little too reverent of the originals, while the group really takes off when transcribing the electric “Actual Proof” to an acoustic setting.
When large groups of established musicians converge, their m.o. often stops at celebrating the past. It’s encouraging that the SFJazz Collective is largely committed to expanding the potential of this music with provocative originals, with a tip of the hat to their roots.