San Francisco Jazz Collective
Herbst Theatre
San Francisco, CA
March 11, 2011

Audience recording: Zoom H2 > Sound Studio (cut tracks, compress applause, normalize) > FLAC (level 8)

My Cherie Amour
Life Signs (Stefan Harris)
Metronome (Edward Simon)
Eminance (Eric Harland)
Blame it on the Sun
Family (Avishai Cohen)

Miguel Zenon - alto sax
Mark Turner - tenor sax
Avishai Cohen - trumpet
Robin Eubanks - trombone
Stefan Harris - vibraphone
Edward Simon - piano
Matt Penman - bass
Eric Harland - drums

The SFJAZZ Collective is an all-star jazz ensemble comprising eight of the finest performer/composers at work in jazz today. Launched in 2004 by SFJAZZ—the West Coast’s largest nonprofit jazz institution and the presenter of the annual San Francisco Jazz Festival—the Collective has quickly become one of the most exciting and acclaimed groups on the American and international jazz scenes. As The New York Times hailed the Collective upon its debut: “A serious jazz band rises in San Francisco.”

In addition to its outstanding line-up, the SFJAZZ Collective has been praised for its innovative approach to repertoire. Each year, the ensemble performs an entirely new list of compositions by a modern jazz master and new pieces by the Collective members (commissioned by SFJAZZ). Through this pioneering approach, simultaneously honoring jazz’s recent history while championing the music’s up-to-the-minute directions, the Collective embodies SFJAZZ’s organizational commitment to jazz as a living, ever-relevant art form.

To cultivate its distinctive sound, the SFJAZZ Collective convenes in San Francisco each spring for a multi-week residency. Throughout this extended rehearsal period—a rarity in today’s jazz—the octet workshops the season’s new repertoire and interacts with the Bay Area community through SFJAZZ’s education programs for youth and adults. The Collective then takes to the performance stage, including home season concerts under the auspices of the SFJAZZ Spring Season and a national and international tour, with stops in a number of the world’s most prominent concert halls.

After exploring the work of Ornette Coleman (2004), John Coltrane (2005), Herbie Hancock (2006), Thelonious Monk (2007), Wayne Shorter (2008), McCoy Tyner (2009) and Horace Silver (2010), the Collective takes on the material of pop music icon Stevie Wonder for its spring 2011 tour. While Wonder represents a departure from each of the previous tributes to jazz giants, his songs have had a profound impact on musicians of every stripe and our culture overall.

The SFJAZZ Collective performance is always a highlight of our Spring Season, as the all-star unit premieres the fresh, innovative compositions and arrangements developed during their San Francisco residency. In years past, the Collective has paid tribute to legendary figures from jazz history, but this year marks a departure for the much-heralded octet. For the first time, the group approaches the work of an artist outside of the jazz tradition, but one whose sophisticated songcraft and timeless melodies are more than worthy of exploration: the incomparable Stevie Wonder. A star at age 11, Stevie released a string of classic albums that fused the soul music of Detroit with elements of R&B, jazz and reggae into a singular vision that was both wildly successful on the charts and respected by critics and musicians of all genres.

With members hailing from Puerto Rico, Venezuela, New York, Philly, New Zealand and Israel, the Collective’s multi-cultural lineup mirrors the global evolution of jazz in the 21st century and boasts multiple Grammy Awards, Guggenheim Fellowships and MacArthur genius grants among them. While each musician is a top-shelf composer and instrumentalist, as a unit, the SFJAZZ Collective has proven to be far more than the sum of its formidable parts. They are future of jazz — a constantly evolving, ever-relevant and quintessentially modern art form.