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SFJAZZ Collective 

When: Fri., March 30, 8 & 10 p.m., Sat., March 31, 8 & 10 p.m. and Sun., April 1, 6 & 8 p.m. 2012
Price: $22-$28

Past tributes to Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, and Wayne Shorter allowed the eight members of SFJAZZ Collective to flex, but the group's current homage to soul artist Stevie Wonder shows an increasingly adventurous approach to the jazz canon. The group's latest album, released last year, featured reinterpretations of some of the more obvious Wonder hits -- "Superstition," "Sir Duke," "Do I Do," and "My Cherie Amour" among them -- but it was mostly packed with lesser-known tunes. Even the most avid pop radio consumer isn't likely to know the head of "Young and Playful," or identify the motif on a lilting swing ballad called "Race Babbling." Many of the songs have new rhythmic ideas, altered chord changes, or elaborate solo sections that stray from the A-B-A form in which Stevie Wonder operated. But they're seldom contorted beyond recognition. And to his credit, Wonder really has a jazz composer's sensibility. No wonder SFJAZZ vibraphonist Stefon Harris once cited Songs in the Key of Life as one of the best albums of all time. SFJAZZ performs at Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero, Oakland) Friday, Mar. 30, through Sunday, Apr. 1. Shows at 8 p.m. & 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday, $22, $28.

— Rachel Swan


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