The SFJazz Collective, featuring Renee Rosnes, performs on Wednesday, March 19th 2008 at 8 p.m. at the Grand Theatre Center for the Arts in Tracy. For more information click on the link at the right or call (209) 831-6858.
This feature was produced in advance of the Collective's 2007 concert in Davis. The band's personnel has since changed and the 2008 tour features compositions by jazz great Wayne Shorter.
The first thing you should know about the SFJazz Collective is that only two of its eight members reside in the Bay area.
“And the rest of us come from really all over.”
Pianist Renee Rosnes.
“A few of us are in the New York area but Eric comes from Texas, you know, Miguel comes from Puerto Rico. Our bassist comes from New Zealand. We’re really kind of a global group.”
And yet for one month out of the year, these musicians tour the world together under the auspices of SFJazz, the organization that presents the annual San Francisco Jazz Festival. During a 2-week residency in San Francisco before each tour, the Collective does something most all-star groups rarely do… they rehearse… a lot.
“Having the time to get into the music and hone the all the arrangements and compositions and, you know, play together every single day for a couple of weeks, I mean that’s one of the greatest things about the band.”
The rehearsals are crucial. The Collective tackles new music each year, composed by group members and commissioned by SF Jazz. Renee Rosnes says when she composes, she thinks of specific musicians like senior member Bobby Hutcherson. This piece, “Mirror Image,” was written by Rosnes for last year’s tour.
“I did definitely have Bobby’s sound in my head when I was working on that composition. He has such a beautiful spirit as a human being, he has a very positive and kind of joyous aura about him."
Original compositions make up half of the Collective’s repertoire. The other half is devoted to the music of a jazz master. This year it’s bebop iconoclast Thelonious Monk.
This Renee Rosnes from 1990 performing Monk’s “Bright Mississippi” with Branford Marsalis on saxophone.
“Monk was a very original mind. And his music is very melodic. It has interesting quirky harmonic choices. It has a lot of playfulness and humor to it. There’s a very distinctive rhythmic style. When I’m playing with the Collective and playing his music, it’s very easy to bring Monk’s spirit, his quirky spirit, into the proceedings.”
Monk’s fun-loving spirit comes easy to this group because they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. For Renee Rosnes, that might be the most gratifying part of sharing several intense weeks with seven jazz luminaries.
“The thing that’s beautiful is that ego problems, that sort of thing, hasn’t really come into play at all. Everybody puts in their two cents and it’s welcome and I think that the music is all the better for it.”
(MUSIC TO APPLAUSE)
Paul Conley, KXJZ News