Each year the SF Jazz Collective celebrates the work of significant modern artists and presents new, original material. Past honorees run the gamut: Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea and Michael Jackson among others.
This year the Collective assumed the daunting task of interpreting the music Miles Davis, one of the most revered jazz trumpeters of all time and arguably one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.
At Columbia University’s Miller Theater, the all-star octet breathed life into eight classic tunes popularized by Miles, including So What, Nardis, Milestones, All Blues, Tutu, Bitches Brew, Joshua and Teo (for Teo Macero).
Miguel Zenon’s arrangement of Nardis draws from the music of Bulgarian (Gypsy) clarinetist, saxophonist Ivo Papasov. Basically, Zenon transcribed Papasov’s melodies and passages and weaved them in and out of the original tune – which has a vaguely Middle Eastern flavor – without sacrificing its essence.
Vibraphonist and multi-instrumentalist Warren Wolf raised the temperature in the room with the original composition, In the Heat of the Night, an R&B “slow jam” inspired by D’Angelo’s How Does it Feel.
Grammy winner David Sanchez presented Canto, a haunting chant inspired by the music of Congo-Guinee in Haiti and Puerto Rico (the precursor to his upcoming recording entitled, Carib).
Sean Jones put his unique spin on Miles’ most famous piece (So What), and Obed Calvaire acknowledged the later part of Miles’ career with a funky and sophisticated interpretation of Marcus Miller’s Tutu.
There was much more. To get an inkling pick up The Music of Miles Davis and Original Compositions (2 CDs) on the SF label.
Reinterpreting the music of Miles Davis is no easy task, but the SF Jazz Collective was up to the task. No doubt, Miles – a restless and creative spirit – would be thrilled to know that his music is changing, evolving, challenging common misperceptions and inspiring a new generation of musicians to think out of the box.
SF Website: http://sfjazz.org