Feisty, fresh, rooted and open, this is a superior record from a group of contemporary jazz luminaries that includes Joshua Redman and old hand Bobby Hutcherson. The ‘SF’ refers to San Francisco and SFJAZZ is an annual project that brings together emerging and established names for a series of concerts themed around an inspirational figure in jazz.
The choice for the inaugural project was Ornette Coleman, whose works perfectly encapsulates the desired goals of connectedness to jazz history with a ruthless ‘nowness’. Three of his compositions were chosen and band members inspired directly or indirectly by Coleman wrote new compositions.
The result is a series of seven wonderfully fresh pieces of jazz. There is no forced gimmickry, no undue reverence, just the uncompromising creative sparkle of a band which may have been formed on a conceit but can turn on a dime — and it is that sense of confident (some would say reckless) bluster common to taxi drivers and great improvisers that makes these pieces exhilarating to listen to.
While the overall tone is familiar to fans of Redman’s post neo bop sound, there is plenty of room for individual voices to shine. The opening piece ‘Lingala’ for example is a composition by Puerto Rican Miguel Zenón inspired by his trip to the Congo and dominated by Bobby Hutcherson’s fantastically evocative opening and closing statements on marimba taking you right there into the heart of Africa as imagined in the Bay one evening in spring last year.
All the songs convey a creative tension between the abstraction and disarming simplicity of Ornette’s music and the inherent elegance and refinement of the musicians themselves. This tension is good and it works. If the results at times tend towards the MBASE school, that is no bad thing and they so frequently escape comparison that it hardly matters at all.
The liner notes tell us that the series of concerts were issued in a comprehensive three CD set from which the seven tracks on this release were drawn. My feeling is that this is just enough though.
Having had a quick shufti to the website, I am already looking forward to 2005’s John Coltrane season CDs.
Catalogue Number: 7559798662
3. Of This Day’s Journey
4. When Will The Blues Leave
5. Rise and Fall
6. Una Muy Bonita
7. March Madness
Joshua Redman Elastic Band — Momentum
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