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Cover Story [Issue # 15 ]
San Francisco Jazz Collective: And Freedom On The Other

By Jason Sklar

The San Francisco Jazz Collective 2005 ( CD Nonesuch )

When thinking generally and conceptually about what the band would be and what it would feel like for the members, Joshua Redman sculpted the San Francisco Jazz Collective as “a composer’s workshop.”

“In terms of instrumentation, I wanted enough varieties of colors, sounds, and textures for the composer to work with,” says Redman. “By the same token, we wanted to keep it from being too large to avoid restricting each individual’s role. The idea was for it to feel like spontaneous interactions with collaborative efforts on all levels, not just playing.”

With two brass woodwinds, vibes, and full rhythm section, “there’s enough of everything, but not too much of anything,” he says. These players are recognized not only for their musical muscle, but for their compositional wit as well. The 2004 Collective brought together vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, saxophonist Miguel Zenón, trumpet master Nicholas Payton, pianist Renee Rosnes, trombonist Josh Roseman, bass ace Robert Hurst, and fiery drummer Brian Blade. For a crew this capable, it is no wonder that all-star replacements were found for 2005’s Collective, adding in Isaac Smith on trombone, Matt Penman on bass, and Eric Harland on drums.

In addition to original compositions written by the group’s members, the Collective includes the music of a great jazz composer as part of their annual repertoire. In the first year, the Collective took on the challenge of Ornette Coleman’s music. Despite the demanding nature of Coleman’s music, Redman and the SF Collective play the music in a relevant and original way. “We took a sink or swim attitude,” says Redman. “In learning how to make his music work, it galvanized the solidification of our own identity.”

In very deep water, the SF Collective stays well afloat as they find a cultivated balance between instrumental variety on one hand and freedom on the other.

The San Francisco Jazz Collective 2005

And Freedom On The Other San Francisco Jazz Collective The San Francisco Jazz Collective 2005

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