Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Branford Marsalis: In My Solitude

Marsalis Music and OKeh Records have teamed up to release a recording of the solo "Sacred Space" performance given by saxophone great Branford Marsalis at San Francisco's iconic Grace Cathedral during the 30th Annual San Francisco Jazz Festival on October 5, 2012.
Standing at the top of Nob Hill, Grace Cathedral has been a part of jazz history since it was completed in 1964 and consecrated by the legendary Duke Ellington with his Concert of Sacred Music, performed and recorded at Grace on September 16, 1965.

Concerts at Grace are an SFJAZZ tradition that goes back to the origins of the organization, and Branford joins the illustrious ranks of master saxophonists to perform in the space including Joe Henderson, Jackie McLean, Pharoah Sanders, Charles Lloyd, Dewey Redman, Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton, Yusef Lateef, and Joshua Redman.

Entitled In My Solitude: Live at Grace Cathedral, Branford's new album captures the feel of the cavernous cathedral and its natural seven-second reverberation – an acoustic environment that Marsalis had to prepare for carefully. "Every room has a sound of its own. There’s a difference between playing in the Village Vanguard, and Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and Royal Festival Hall in London; and there is definitely a difference playing in Grace Cathedral, with its seven-second delay. Playing solo interludes in other rooms where my quartet performs was not going to prepare me. I had to hear that Grace Cathedral sound in my head."
In My Solitude contains the complete concert, including a selection of originals and standards, a movement from a C.P.E. Bach oboe sonata, and a set of improvisations that blend harmoniously with the unique acoustic properties of Grace Cathedral.

The album is available as a download, on CD and on 180 gram vinyl.

Listen to a sample:

Read more at the Marsalis Music website:

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SFJAZZ Hotplate: Howard Wiley plays Coleman Hawkins

Howard Wiley digs into Coleman Hawkins' Body and Soul, playing through the ballad, and explaining Hawkins' vital role in the development of jazz, and popularizing the saxophone. At this Thursday's Hotplate, Wiley pays tribute to Hawkins in Joe Henderson Lab!

SFJAZZ Hotplate is a monthly series (every 2nd Thursday) that features local artists re-imagining the music of jazz legends.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Celebrating 'A Love Supreme'

“During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which was to lead me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I humbly asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music. I feel this has been granted through His grace. ALL PRAISE TO GOD.”

John Coltrane

Photo: Chuck Stewart

So wrote John Coltrane in the liner notes to A Love Supreme, the rapturous 1964 masterpiece whose intensity and transcendent power continues to speak to people around the world and inspire musicians and artists of all kinds. Five decades after the towering saxophonist recorded the devotional four-part suite at Rudy Van Gelder’s New Jersey studio with his classic quartet – pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Jimmy Garrison – the music Coltrane called “a humble offering to Him” is still a shattering and stirring thing to experience.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary in December of this epochal and enduring recording (released by Impulse! in February of ’65), SFJAZZ has programmed a week’s worth of special events sponsored by the Bernard Osher Foundation and curated by Ravi Coltrane, son of the late jazz giant and himself a superior saxophonist with a probing improvisational style of his own.

He’ll perform in four different settings in which all or parts of A Love Supreme will form the core of each concert. Coltrane leads a group with the great tenor saxophonist Joe Lovano on December 11, and his own quartet December 12 on a bill with the Turtle Island Quartet, the sensational improvising string ensemble that won a 2007 Grammy for its rich A Love Supreme recording. Coltrane performs again with various special guests the following night, and the next afternoon with the SFJAZZ High School-All Stars. He’ll also appear at a symposium December 10 with writer Ashley Kahn, author of the revealing 2002 book A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Recording, and other speakers.

On December 14, the creative saxophonist and composer Steve Coleman, whose combustible music integrates free jazz, funk, soul and world music, performs with his explosive Five Elements band, exploring A Love Supreme his way.

A mostly improvised piece that ran 32 minutes on the original recording – Coltrane performed it live only once, in Antibes, France in ’65, two years before his death at 40 of liver cancer – the piece builds on a simple four-note motif: “a love supreme.” The saxophonist chants it verbally, multiple times, at the conclusion of the opening movement, “Acknowledgement,” which begins with the shimmering sound of a Chinese gong.

“It's the signal of something different. You don't hear that instrument anywhere else on any other John Coltrane recording,” notes Ravi in Kahn’s book. “A Love Supreme,” he says, is “not a tune on a record, it’s an offering to God.”

Joshua Redman absorbed this powerful music years before he began playing saxophone, stirred by its sheer passion and force. “I think that is the case for most people when they hear that record, whether they ever hear another lick of jazz or not,” Redman told an interviewer. “They may not have any understanding of what’s happening musically, the incredibly deep and complex musical issues that Coltrane is tackling, but the conviction and the intensity and the passion and the sincerity – the honesty – you feel these qualities, and that’s what makes it so compelling, what makes it one of the greatest jazz albums of all time.”

Early next year, two major artists closely associated with Coltrane will perform at SFJAZZ. The volcanic tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who came of age in Coltrane’s roiling free-jazz bands of the mid-1960s, performs in Miner Auditorium January 8-11. His spirited music encompasses late Coltrane, Moroccan grooves and the rocking R&B he played as a kid in Little Rock.

Then on January 18, Tyner, whose crashing chords and hypnotic solos were essential ingredients in Coltrane’s music from the modal period of My Favorite Things through A Love Supreme, returns with his prime trio. Joining him for a series of duets, solos and numbers with the trio will be two admiring fellow pianists: the brilliant Geri Allen and the elegant master Kenny Barron. Fifty years after leaving Coltrane to pursue his own path, Tyner still makes enduring, vital music.

Jesse Hamlin

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Jazz is...

2013-14 SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director Jason Moran

We're excited to announce that the organization has reached the $64 million goal of The World Is Listening (TWIL) campaign for the SFJAZZ Center! Thank you all—donors, concert-goers, musicians, fans and more—for the ongoing support! As we reflect on the campaign, we were reminded of an awesome collection of TWIL vids, in which some of our favorite jazz artists completed the statement: "Jazz is..."

With The World Is Listening campaign realized, we can continue to pose this statement for years and years to come! Read more on the campaign.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SFJAZZ Collective jams in Linden Alley

The SFJAZZ Collective, decked out in custom made Collective baseball jerseys, broke into an impromptu jam on Joe Henderson's "Recorda Me" toward the end of a shoot with photographer Jay Blakesberg during their SFJAZZ Center Residency October 23-26, 2014.

Next up: the Collective takes the music of Henderson + new original compositions on the road! Peep the Tour Dates.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Rehearsal, Pt. 2: SFJAZZ Collective plays Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus"

Check out footage of the SFJAZZ Collective rehearsing trombonist Robin Eubanks' arrangement of Joe Henderson's standard "Black Narcissus" in the SFJAZZ Center's Joe Henderson Lab. The Collective takes the music of Henderson + original compositions on the road throughout 2014-15. Next up: a 4-night residency and live recording at SFJAZZ this week (October 23-26).

Also, check out the Collective's new live retrospective album!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

SFJAZZ Collective drops new album "SFJAZZ Collective: 10"

SFJAZZ Collective at SFJAZZ Center, October 2013 ©Chuck Gee

The SFJAZZ Collective's newest album SFJAZZ Collective: 10 drops Wednesday, Oct. 22nd (available digitally in early November). This 10-track CD, recorded live during the Collective’s four-night residency at the SFJAZZ Center in October 2013, celebrates its 10-year musical legacy. In anticipation of the release, check out a "leaked" excerpt on Soundcloud: Eric Harland's "Union," performed by the current Collective lineup.


The album release also coincides with the Collective's 2014-15 Tour: "The Music of Joe Henderson & Original Compositions"—each Collective member arranged a composition by the great Joe Henderson and composed an original. The all-star octet kicked off the tour last weekend at the Kennedy Center in DC, and now return home to the SFJAZZ Center for a four-night residency in Miner Auditorium, with CD signings for the new CD each night!

Previews the SFJAZZ Collective's 2014-15 Tour with exclusive rehearsal footage of saxophonist Miguel Zenón's arrangement of Henderson's classic "Recorda-me."

Order SFJAZZ Collective: 10 today. Also, check out all the Collective's tour dates.

Collective Lineup: alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Robin Eubanks, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Obed Calvaire.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Artistry of Ensemble: Winemaking & Jazz

Earlier this week, SFJAZZ collaborated with winemaker Michael Beaulac to debut Luminary wine. Beaulac led an interactive wine tasting on stage with vocalist Pamela Rose and organist Wayne De La Cruz, together exploring the creative composition of wine and jazz (as well as their delicious pairing!). Miner Auditorium went into dance floor mode, seats removed, allowing SFJAZZ Members to mingle and move to the music. Photo credit: Scott Chernis.

Winemaker Michael Beaulac (Luminary) interacting with Pamela Rose and the band!

Pamela Rose & Wayne De La Cruz: Hammond organ party

Michael Beaulac, Winemaker, Luminary; Don Derheim; and Crimson Wine Group CEO Erle Martin

Learn about Member perks and other fun SFJAZZ events at!