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All About Jazz - Los Angeles



Joshua Redmond & The SF Jazz Collective

Royce Hall

March 29, 2004

By Anne Farnsworth

          The SF Jazz Collective, an offshoot of the SF JAZZ Festival, performed their debut concert on March 29th at Royce Hall. Under the leadership of tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman, artistic director of SF JAZZ, the group features Jazz luminaries Bobby Hutcherson and Nicholas Payton. Alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon and Josh Roseman on trombone rounded out the front line, backed by a superb rhythm section featuring Canadian pianist Renee Rosnes.

          The first set was dedicated to the compositions of Ornette Coleman, a nervy way to introduce a new project like the Collective.  Redman took the time between selections to talk about Ornette and his music, smoothing the way for audience members who may not be prepared for the avant gardist's unique melodic vision. 

          It's a tribute to Coleman's art that many of his compositions have become recognizable standards over the years.  School Work, Lonely Woman, and Una Muy Bonita were standouts in the first set. Arranged by Gil Goldstein, the horns and Hutcherson's vibes recalled the collective improvisation of early Jazz.  Bassist Robert Hurst showcased his warm tone with a solo introduction to Lonely Woman.  Bobby Hutcherson added a whimsical solo on Una Muy Bonita, one of his few solos of the evening.  One would have liked to hear more of Hutcherson, the dean of this talented outfit, in the course the evening.  Brian Blade further energized the hot-tempoed Happy House with a burning drum solo. Blade is a talented, engaging musician who, with his black-rimmed glasses and toothy smile, looks like a young Billy Taylor.

      The second half of the concert premiered original works that the members of the Collective have been commissioned to write for this project.  Redman's contribution, Rise and Fall, had the full, swinging sound of a cool Ellington movie score, enhanced with a shimmering solo by Payton.  Redman told the audience the title had many meanings, joking that one of them could be that the piece seemed to have several endings, leading the listeners' hopes to "rise and fall".  Echoing the Latin inflections of his native Puerto Rico, altoist Zenon wrote a piece with subtle polyrhythms.  Renee Rosnes came to the forefront with a confident solo, one of only two in the evening.  It was nice to see a woman in the Collective, though she seemed tentative for most of the performance.

          The showstopper was Hutcherson's March Madness.  Redman announced that Hutcherson had wanted to inject some humor into the offerings. (What is it with vibraphonists being the cutups of the jazz world?)  With competing strains of Americana wafting through the orchestration, it had a witty Ivesian quality.

           Joshua Redman is an inspired choice to represent SF Jazz and the Collective.  He is enthusiastic and self-effacing, eager to share his love and appreciation of the music with the audience.  His playing has matured since his breakout as the great young hope of Jazz and one looks forward to watching him grow as an artist.    

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