SFJAZZ Collective – Live 2007: 4th Annual Concert Tour (SFJAZZ Records)
The aggregation was named “Rising Star Jazz Group” in the 2006 DownBeat Critics Poll on the heels of Live 2006: 3rd Annual Concert Tour, an acclaimed recording which buoyed the players for their 2007 tour, the last for artistic director Joshua Redman, who left the band shortly thereafter (don’t ask). The material this time out was a departure in that half of this set is devoted to the compositions of Thelonious Monk and one CD has original compositions and arrangements by the band members. The interesting thing about Monk is the deceptive simplicity and boldness of his melodies; and the strong, playful rhythmic elements which make them fun to arrange and play. Because Monk’s music is so starkly original there is no way to imitate Monk without sounding totally derivative. It is challenging and inspiring to give these tunes a fresh sound and feel, and these musicians do a remarkable job with the material. As trumpeter Dave Douglas says, “Monk’s music endures because it is so complete... It’s got everything you’d want to know about melody, harmony, rhythm, voice leading, and good taste. It’s also got heart.” Well said. As expected, the playing is very strong from these premier artists. The typical all-star band tends to be less than the sum of its parts. Not so in this case. There is remarkable sensitivity and listening going on throughout these live concert performances.
Personnel: Joshua Redman, tenor saxophone, Miguel Zenon, alto saxophone, Dave Douglas, trumpet, André Hayward, trombone, Renee Rosnes, piano, Matt Penman, bass, and Eric Harland, drums.Track listing: DISK 1: Brilliant Corners; Epistrophy; Crepuscule with Nellie; Criss Cross; Bye-Ya; I Mean You; Ugly Beauty; San Francisco Holiday/Worry Later; Oska T; Reflections; Hornin’ In; Bright Mississippi; DISK 2: Haast Pass; Life at the End of the Tunnel; Lion’s Gate; Peace Offering; San Francisco Suite (3 movements); Union