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Ornette Coleman at the SF Jazz Festival

Frank Kimbrough

This Jazz at Lincoln Center event, subtitled “As of Now,” showcased two of the most popular jazz big bands, both led by talented composer-arrangers.

Schneider band opened with “The Worldly Master,” and its dense harmonies spread across the entire band, moving in block-chord fashion. Baritone saxophonist Scott Robinson and trombonist Rocky Ciccarone soloed, the latter showing an Urbie Green-Bill Watrous influence. Guitarist Ben Monder’s distortion-laced solo ended the piece on a fade-out. The 18-piece group played Schneider’s challenging polyrhythms and shifting harmonies if not with flying ease then with great technical competence and feeling for the music. The band has the rare ability to fight its way through Schneider’s toughest material, bringing her charts to glorious life in the process.

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