Saxophonist Joshua Redman is turning an ambitious, complex idea into reality: celebrating jazz as a vital, evolving art form that highlights an integrated group sound despite its revolving door of new and established musicians.
As artistic director of the SFJAZZ Collective—an all-star jazz ensemble launched in 2004 by the West Coast's largest nonprofit jazz institution—Redman chooses a mix of artists who convene each spring in San Francisco for a three-week residency of rehearsals, concerts and educational events. The eight-member group (this year featuring saxophonists Redman and Miguel Zenn, vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson, drummer Eric Harland, trumpter Nicholas Payton, bassist Matt Penman, pianist Renee Rosnes, and trombonist Andre Hayward) then tours, dividing its repertoire between new works composed by each band member, and those of a modern jazz artist, like keyboardist Herbie Hancock, who's the focus of this year's program.
The real challenge with a group featuring such strong individual personalities and sonic styles is to work in service of the song rather than one's usually large ego. That's where the Collective part comes in. According to Redman, during the rehearsals, the players develop a rapport with one another that simultaneously fosters unity while still allowing enough room for some exciting spontaneous combustion. So while Friday and Saturday evenings' presentations at the Orange County Performing Arts Center are indeed scripted in advance, what actually ensues onstage may well be another matter. Stay tuned.
SFJAZZ Collective at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Founders Hall, 600 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 556-2787; www.ocpac.org. Fri.-Sat., 7:30 & 9:30 p.m. $54-$58. All ages.
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