b-sides: SFJAZZ Collective

Joe Henderson, Stevie Wonder and now Michael Jackson. Since its launch in 2004, the SFJAZZ Collective has used the music of modern masters to yield new arrangements and compositions within the jazz realm. Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter, among other greats, had a turn. But, in recent seasons, the collective has switched focus to artists in popular music. The King of Pop receives that treatment this time around, and the award-winning octet hailing from San Francisco is taking the concept on tour.

LEO spoke to alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, one of the collective’s founding members and an inherent Jackson fan.

“He had a very deep impact on many generations of Puerto Ricans, including mine,” he said.

Although they come from various regions and backgrounds, all of the members share a deep connection with Jackson’s music. It’s apparent in the entire songbook, especially Zenón’s version of “Smooth Criminal,” that the collective goal wasn’t to simply play covers.

“My approach has always been to try to keep the essence of the original in there, while injecting the arrangement with something more personal,” he said. “This is harder to do with popular music, because these are songs that everyone knows.”

He went on to say, “I think this season we’re all paying special attention to our approach as arrangers and performers, making sure our identity as individuals and as a band does not get diluted by the repertoire we’re covering.”

The SFJAZZ Collective will perform this songbook, plus original compositions, April 6 at the Clifton Center; SFJAZZ alumni Avishai Cohen subs for Sean Jones on trumpet this evening. Admission is $30, $5 for UofL students. DJ Hi-Definition kicks off the pre-party reception at 6:30 p.m.; show at 7:30 p.m.

About the Author

b-sides: SFJAZZ Collective

Lara Kinne (also known by the pseudonym Larisa Aral) is a writer and music journalist living in Louisville, Ky. Since the launch of her independent music blog,” Huevos,” in 2007, Lara has written about the Louisville music landscape and beyond. Her words have appeared at Louisville.com, Gonzo Today and Performer Magazine; additionally, Lara helped start the city’s first homeless street paper in 2014, Our Paper Louisville. She is currently a contributor at LEO Weekly. Follow her on Twitter @dangerboobs.



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