Jazz is a new art form now. If you want to know the state of the art form, you check out who’s playing in the San Francisco Jazz Collective. It’s an elite team—all the artists are at the cutting edge of their field. Even being a sub is a high honor! The SF Jazz Collective is a collection of extreme geniuses. When I hear any of them individually, it’s astounding. What happens when they’re all together?
Right now, the constant in the SF Jazz Collective is Miguel Zenón, a Puerto Rican alto saxophonist from New York who’s performed here in Winnipeg a few times. He’s a multiple Grammy nominee, and has received both the Guggenheim Fellowship and the MacArthur Genius Grant—and he’s not yet 40. Avishai Cohen is the trumpeter, a musician with tremendous imagination and a multi-cultural sensibility, and a favourite with Winnipeg audiences. He was voted Rising Star three years running in the DownBeat Critics Poll. Warren Wolf, the vibraphonist who lit up the Asper stage in the fall, is in the band; he took over from another superstar, Stefon Harris.
Other members of the SF Jazz Collective are Matt Penman on bass, David Sánchez on tenor, Robin Eubanks on trombone, and Edward Simon on piano. The drummer, Obed Calvaire, was just a kid when I was in New York—he played in the “second” ensemble when I was doing my Master’s, so it’s great to see him making his mark.
What do I like about this ensemble?
By assertion, an ensemble of edgy superstars will shatter the barrier of what is imaginable as musical language. Then they’ll push that boundary just a bit further. So if I want to look into the future of music—say a hundred years or so—the San Francisco Jazz Collective will present that. Is it ready for the general public? I’m not sure. But any of them individually is more than ready to stretch a listener to the farthest edge of their imagination. I’m interested in that!