Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 28 06:09:28 PST 2005

Ever wonder where Black OKOM trumpeter Nicholas Payton went? Here is where.
Payton, as some of us know, is an extraordinary musician, well versed in
OKOM and New Orleans Jazz who left the genre to explore more modern forms of
jazz. Why? Who knows for sure, but probably the greater $$$$$$, the greater
audience visibility, and the greater musical challenge.

Payton, mentioned in the last two paragraphs, was not well known among OKOM
audiences, though IMO he outplayed most if not all, trumpeters in the genre.

Steve Barbone 


Pluralism and Modernity From the West  By BEN RATLIFF

Over the course of 21 years, SF Jazz, the San Francisco arts organization,
has become less free-floating and more corporeal. It started as a
low-powered concert producer, and now it offers two annual seasons of
programming as well as its own house band.

Comparisons to Jazz at Lincoln Center and its hard-touring Lincoln Center
Jazz Orchestra are inevitable. If SF Jazz wants to expand its reach and
spread its identity, it needs a roving squadron. The Lincoln Center Jazz
Orchestra has traveled all over the world; the SF Jazz Collective, an
eight-piece ensemble, has only now, in its second year, made it out of
California. At the invitation of Jazz at Lincoln Center, the band played two
nights at Rose Theater this weekend. On Friday night it made a good case for
its flexibility. 

As the name implies, the SF Jazz Collective is a cooperative band, with no
leader. Onstage, the saxophonist Joshua Redman makes announcements between
songs, because he is artistic director within the larger organization, its
public face. 

As distinct from the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, which worked hard on
nailing down the fundamentals of early jazz, this band is starting out on a
note of pluralism and modernity. Those ideas are definitely very San
Francisco, and they're not so out of place in jazz, either.

SF Jazz has organized a series of Bay Area concerts around the theme of John
Coltrane for this spring, and so all the nonoriginal music played by the
band at Rose Theater was Coltrane's. Gil Goldstein, the band's unseen ninth
member, arranged five midperiod Coltrane pieces, and his arrangements struck
an effective balance between doing his job and leaving well enough alone.

Coltrane's "26-2" is a chord-stuffed racecourse, and Mr. Goldstein did not
overarrange it, letting soloists take their turns at a fast tempo. Miguel
Zenón, the alto saxophonist, especially shone here, with a bright tone and
razor-sharp rhythmic accuracy. The modal "Africa," on the other hand, took
on a plateau shape: it started, there was a steep upward curve toward a full
ensemble blast, and it stayed all-out until the end, with Matt Penman
thrumming a single bass note and Bobby Hutcherson keeping a steady hammering
on the vibraphone. Several soloists rose out of the scrimmage, including Mr.
Redman and the drummer Eric Harland. Then it quickly simmered down.

Not everyone in the band is at an equal level as a composer. The invitation
to write for an octet and big audiences is a great opportunity for the
musicians; it's perhaps less great for audiences. But of the six originals
that alternated with the Coltrane pieces on Friday, three were especially
worthwhile: those by Mr. Zenón, the trumpeter Nicholas Payton and Mr.
Redman. (Also heard on Friday were pieces by Mr. Hutcherson, Mr. Penman and
Mr. Harland. Two others, by the pianist Renee Rosnes and the trombonist
Isaac Smith, were not played until Saturday.)

Mr. Zenón is just gaining recognition in his own right as a bandleader, and
so far he has been one of SF Jazz's greatest assets. His piece, "Two and
Two," was confident, complicated and beautifully played, based in 10-beat
and 11-beat rhythms, with horn lines cycling against each other on an uneven
groove. Mr. Payton's "Scrambled Eggs," based on Chick Corea's "Humpty
Dumpty," sounded just as tricky, spitting out its melodic line in uneven
note lengths, picking up speed as it went along. (Mr. Payton had a strong
night: he also soloed with tremendous authority on Coltrane's "Crescent.")
Mr. Redman's "Half Full," based in a simple figure and written in several
distinct segments, was particularly strong by not being overly showy; it
cohered, and Mr. Redman played at the best of his abilities, melodic and
flowing and charismatic.

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