Launched in 2004, the SFJAZZ Collective regularly unites eight of modern jazz's most compelling voices. Each year, the octet comes together during a multi-week residency in San Francisco to create new work and pay homage to a selected composer. Past honorees have included Ornette Coleman, McCoy Tyner and John Coltrane; this year, the group has chosen to tip its hat to Stevie Wonder. This year's incarnation features alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón (the only member to have been in each iteration of SFJAZZ since 2004), tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, Robin Eubanks on trombone, Stefon Harris on vibraphone, Matt Penman on bass, Eric Harland on drums (who will be subbed by Kendrick Scott in Montreal), and pianist Edward Simon.
Simon, entering his second year in SFJAZZ, calls it "one of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding experiences of my career." Having played extensively with Harland, Turner and Zenón, his contributions to the group are highly informed by his history with these artists. Simon admits to only being "vaguely familiar with [Wonder's] music; I really didn't investigate it deeply until preparing for this project." Nevertheless, his arrangement of "My Cherie Amour" and his composition, "Young and Playful," are two of the standouts in SFJAZZ's repertoire this year.
SFJAZZ Collective plays the music of Stevie Wonder tonight, Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at L'Astral at 8 pm. Tickets are $31.50 (plus taxes). More information at www.sfjazz.org/about-collective and www.montrealjazzfest.com
- David Ryshpan