Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Here's my review of the new SF Jazz Collective disc, from the current issue of Jazziz (painting of Rod Stewart on the cover):

SF Jazz Collective
SF Jazz Collective 2
Recording technology being what it is, bands sound a lot fuller and louder than they used to. So more often than not, an octet like the SF Jazz Collective, which confronts the audience with two saxophonists, a trumpeter and a trombonist, in addition to a four-piece rhythm section (vibes, piano, bass, drums), comes at the home listener like a hurricane whirling mobile homes in its wake: more startling than truly entertaining.
This live album, from its blaring charts to the roaring audiences, seems created more in the spirit of Ted Nugent’s Double Live Gonzo than, say, Art Blakey’s many recorded club dates. The music is solid and serviceable — there’s plenty of talent on display here, from artistic director Joshua Redman and trumpeter Nicholas Payton (leaving most of his tedious Satchmo-isms at home) to Bobby Hutcherson and Renee Rosnes. Half the album is devoted to the music of John Coltrane, with four of his compositions (“Moment’s Notice,” “Naima,” “Crescent,” and “Africa”) interpreted in pairs bracketing the disc.
“Moment’s Notice” opens things on an excessively raucous note, but the other three selections, particularly “Crescent” (on which Redman leaves most of the soloing to Payton) are well done indeed. The best of the new pieces is Miguel Zenón’s “2 And 2,” which undulates moodily as the two saxophonists trade solos before Harland brings things to a crashing climax. Seventy-five minutes of this group is too much, and the horns occasionally grow overly fervid and honking, but there’s a lot to like here.

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