Saturday, April 21, 2018


SFJazz Collective
The SFJazz Collective has played the Paradise Jazz Series at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall twice. The collective doesn’t market itself as an all-star ensemble, but there isn’t a better way to characterize it. Anyway, the first time out the collective presented the music of Michael Jackson. As I listened to the collective run through some of Jackson’s greatest hits, I recalled trumpeter Wynton Marsalis words there’s nothing sadder than jazz musicians playing funk/pop music. I’m not suggesting the collective’s first go around in Detroit was a flop. That evening the original tunes the collective performed brilliantly. Friday evening, the collective returned to the Paradise Jazz Series. This time out, the collective was supposed to present an evening of the music of jazz icon Miles Davis, or the concert was advertised as such. The collective instead performed mostly originals from ensemble members --Sean Jones, David Sanchez, Robin Eubanks, Warren Wolf, Edward Simon, Matt Penman, Obed Calvaire, and Miguel Zenon--, which I surmised was a little disappointing for those of us expecting to experience an hour-plus of Davis’ classics. (For the sake of fairness to the organizers of this wonderful, long running jazz concert series, the goal is not to satisfy or meet this reviewer's expectations.)The concert opened well enough with “Tutu,” a composition immortalized by Davis but written by the great bassist Marcus Miller. Next, the collective played a gorgeous version of Davis’ “So What,” and from there the collective performed originals such as Penman’s “June for June,” Sanchez’s “Leaving the Questions,” and Simon’s “United Venezuela”. The originals served up during the concert were excellently rendered, and there was some mic dropping moments from Calvaire and Sanchez, particularly Calvaire, who has a funk drummer streak. His drumming was over the top, but midway through his solos on Wolf’s “Give the Drummer Some,” the audience roared. During the second set, the collective performed Davis' "Nardis," and a modernized version of "Bitches  Brew". I can only speak for myself in that I wanted to hear more of Davis’ music. Honestly, midway through the concert, I felt short-changed, but I remained somewhat hopeful that if the collective were summoned for an encore it would send the audience home with a Davis gem. At the end of the concert, the collective received an ovation, returned to the stage for an encore, and sent  the audience off with another original.

Sunday, April 1, 2018


Pianist Chick Corea

For the jazz pianist, Chick Corea 2017 was a big year. The 22 time Grammy winner turned 75, and he celebrated by touring nationally and internationally. There was an unforgettable set at the Paradise Jazz Series in Detroit with Corea hitting with drummer Brian Blade and bassist Eddie Gomez. The year-long celebration ended in a month residency at the Blue Note club where Corea reunited with many of his former bandmates. As for residencies, Corea is still at it. Currently, Corea is running the streets with the famed Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. They played a 90-minute set Saturday evening at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI, the orchestra’s annual concert for the University Music Society. On paper, the pairing of one of jazz’s greatest pianist with arguably the best jazz orchestra working is a win-win. But overall, the concert was lackluster. The orchestra rehashed some of Corea’s well-known compositions from the 60’s and 70’s with key members of the orchestra such as saxophonists Sherman Irby, Ted Nash, and Victor Goines, and trumpeter Marcus Printup writing arrangements. The concert opened with “Armando Rhumba” followed by “Wigwam,” “Litha,” ”Inner Space,” and “Windows”. Corea was in excellent form the entire concert and seemed genuinely elated to be revisiting compositions he had in storage for decades. Although there was fine soloing by Henriquez on the opener and Nash when the zoom lens was cast on him, Corea didn’t have very much chemistry with the orchestra. The orchestra seemed off-kilter as if they had been on this tour too damn long and had finally run out of gas. You have to question if any of the orchestra’s lackluster-ness was because of the absence of the orchestra’s leader trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who was off somewhere tending to other obligations. The orchestra’s engine drummer Ali Jackson, and trombonist Vincent Gardner were absent, too. The JLCO University Music Society’s annual concert normally sticks to your ribs for days after, always serving up some noteworthy moments and a bunch of unforgettable solos. Sadly, this time around chance is many who attended will be hard pressed to find anything noteworthy to brag about this concert in the coming days.