[Dixielandjazz] San Francisco Jazz - West Coast Alternative
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 5 18:01:20 PDT 2004
Posted not because it is OKOM, but because of two interesting references
to "Early Forms" of jazz. Paragraph 5 compares this SF group to Wynton
Marsalis and Lincoln Center Jazz Band thusly "In its capacity as a
repertory band it will deal with jazz since the 50's which is very Bay
Area, a sexy, slightly hedonistic proposition compared with the way Jazz
at Lincoln Center insists on teaching audiences about jazz from its
And paragraph nine says "But in most respects the New York counterpart
is a different kind of organization: more earnestly pedantic, more
concerned for the cause of the public's knowledge of jazz, less
concerned with pushing the identities of its individual players, who
have year-round salaried positions."
Interesting in that many of us rake Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center
Jazz Band over the coals. Yet Ben Ratliff ( a relatively knowledgeable
jazz critic) says they are very concerned with teaching the public about
jazz from the beginning. Love him or hate him, it seems to some that
Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center do more for jazz appreciation,
including OKOM, than anyone else in the USA if not the world.
Interesting to note also that this SF Jazz Collective now has a "highly
regarded jazz festival".
April 5, 2004 - NY TIMES
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK By BEN RATLIFF
In the Land of Alternative Approaches, a New Look for Jazz
SAN FRANCISCO, April 3 In 22 years a nonprofit group called SF
Jazz has gone from a dinky outfit presenting the occasional jazz show to
the organizer of a regular concert series to a $5 million, year-round
operation with educational programs and a highly regarded jazz festival.
Now it has developed its own in-house band, the SF Jazz Collective, with
members picked by its leader, the saxophonist Joshua Redman, and SF
Jazz's executive director, Randall Kline.
True to the mildly trangressive ethos surrounding issues of taste in
Northern California, from alternative-process winemaking to industrial
design, the collective does not look or sound like an institutional
band. It isn't a flank of 15 utility men in dark suits, with a brass
section on risers at the back and big-band charts loading up the music
stands. The idea is for the personalities of the musicians not to recede
before the weight of the music.
It is smaller than most institutional bands an octet and a little
experimental in its makeup but not unreasonably so. The group begins
with its own internal elements, rather than the material it plays: the
members are already known for their individual work, and each represents
a different style, locale and era. They are not all old friends of Mr.
Redman's, and they don't share friendships from way back; several of
them had never met before the group's first rehearsals.
Mr. Redman contends that the band's original reason for being was to
commission original works. The idea of covering the jazz repertory was
secondary, a helpful toehold for audiences and high-profile programming.
In its capacity as a repertory band it will deal with jazz since the
50's which is very Bay Area, a sexy, slightly hedonistic proposition
compared with the way Jazz at Lincoln Center insists on teaching
audiences about jazz from its beginnings.
Yet Mr. Redman who also serves as artistic director for SF Jazz's
regular spring season of concerts is undogmatic to the core. You won't
find it stated anywhere in the literature about the group that it is
playing only jazz made since the 50's; the band aims to embody a kind of
positive, practical spirit of jazz as
it is currently played, not a jazz-history mandate with a line drawn at
a particular year. Its initial name, the SF Modern Jazz Collective, was
scrapped recently when the organization's board felt that "modern" broke
up a recognizable brand name. And Mr. Redman sounds thoroughly relieved
to be free of the word. "It's a loaded term," he said, decanting green
tea in a Presidio Heights cafe on Friday afternoon before sound check.
"I don't really know what it means."
The band's first task, presented at its first public concerts here
Thursday and Friday at the Palace of Fine Arts, was to rearrange six
Ornette Coleman pieces and to present new commissioned works by each
individual member of the band.
To be sure, Mr. Redman and Mr. Kline are stimulated by the example of
the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis's well-tested band
operating within Jazz at Lincoln Center. But in most respects the New
York counterpart is a different kind of organization: more earnestly
pedantic, more concerned for the cause of the public's knowledge of
jazz, less concerned with pushing the identities of its individual
players, who have year-round salaried positions.
The SF Jazz Collective begins with modest goals. At the moment it is
committed to a week of performances in California each year, preceded by
three weeks of rehearsal. (The band road-tested the music in five other
California cities last week, before the Palace of Fine Arts shows.)
The group will perform in New York this fall at one of the new Jazz at
Lincoln Center theaters but won't convene again to work on new
material until February 2005, when John Coltrane will be the focus of
the repertory project. If SF Jazz can raise the money to build its own
year-round concert hall it is Mr. Kline's current preoccupation
perhaps the band will play more concerts. But the SF Jazz Collective
still isn't meant to be anyone's full-time job.
A month each year isn't much action for a band; if it's going to be a
real one, with its own sound, it needs gigs. But these musicians are
among the most in-demand out there and can't slight their own careers
for what's still a fledgling, local enterprise. Also, as Mr. Redman
points out, there is a distinct positive side to the limited commitment:
rather than being ensconced in one job in San Francisco, the players can
all go back into their separate worlds on the various front lines of
jazz and return with more accumulated knowledge next year to throw into
Aside from Mr. Redman, the band includes the vibraphonist Bobby
Hutcherson, a bona fide master in postwar jazz and a resident of
Montara, just south of San Francisco. Also present is Nicholas Payton, a
virtuosic New Orleans trumpeter whose music has lately been a jazz-funk
swirl; Renee Rosnes, a
formidable post-bop pianist from New York; Miguel Zenón, a young alto
saxophonist originally from Santurce, P.R.; Josh Roseman, a New York
trombonist who has played a lot of jazz as well as rockish jam-band
music; the bassist Robert Hurst, who first became known in the 80's with
Mr. Marsalis's quartet; and Brian Blade, an extraordinarily sensitive
drummer. Gil Goldstein, a highly admired arranger, worked with the band
on shaping the Coleman pieces.
More information about the Dixielandjazz