SFJAZZ Collective 

Live 2007 Fourth Annual Concert Tour

Changes are afoot in SFJAZZ, with East Bay tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman being replaced by Joe Lovano, and hot Blue Note star Stefon Harris filling in for veteran vibes player Bobby Hutcherson. The collective's new two-disc set — comprising an A side with unique arrangements of Thelonious Monk tunes, and a B side of originals — is our last chance to hear two full live sets with the old personnel. As with previous tributes to Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock, SFJAZZ gives even the more obvious Monk standards — such oldies-but-goodies as "Criss Cross" and "Bye-Ya" — a funkier spin, with beats being shifted, melodies slackened, and a rich horn section playing basslines Monk once reserved for his left hand. In particular, trumpeter Dave Douglas broadens the emotional palette of "Criss Cross" with his florid arrangement, in which trombonist André Hayward, saxophonist Redman, and Douglas all appear to be jockeying for position at first, but step back for a graceful piano solo by Renee Rosnes. The originals, meanwhile, illustrate why these eight players rank in the 99th percentile of contemporary jazz musicians. Douglas' "San Francisco Suite" will have Bay Area folks all dewy-eyed, because it genuflects to Alcatraz, Amoeba Music, and St. Francis of Assisi, and Rosnes' "Lion's Gate" features one of the most breathtaking saxophone solos you'll hear on a live album this year. If anything, this compendium of recordings will make you wish you were there for the live performances; they must have been pretty spectacular. SFJAZZ is pressing just three thousand copies, available only through SFJAZZ.org

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