Sunday, October 26, 2014

SFJazz Collective

We caught them at the SFJazz Center last night during their four-day fall residency. With this octet, you pretty much get what you expect: modern jazz playing of the very highest order. It is not exactly a working band, because they come together only intermittently, but it is not a one-shot all-star band either. The music, composed or arranged by band members for the group, is complex and seems to be exceedingly difficult. I say that both because it sounds really hard to play, and because even these guys, the best in the business, look like they are sweating some of the changes and time signatures.

Minor complaints: I wanted more swing, and more Latin groove, and I especially wanted longer, looser solos from these masters. But minor. The band is definitely worth seeking out. For me, the revelation was Warren Wolf on vibes. The guy plays with such velocity, precision, and harmonic inventiveness. But especially welcome was the bluesy feel of his solos... not so easy on the vibes, and reminiscent of Milt Jackson. He is a worthy successor to Bobby Hutcherson, who was with the Collective last time I heard them.

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