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SFJAZZ Collective in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — Eight top-notch jazz musicians will perform the music of Stevie Wonder at the next Community Performance Series concert March 3.

The San Francisco Jazz Collective was launched in 2004 by SFJAZZ, the West Coast’s largest nonprofit jazz institution and the presenter of the annual San Francisco Jazz Festival.

The eight-member ensemble has an unusual approach to its concerts. Each year, it performs a new list of compositions by a modern jazz master and new pieces written by its members and inspired by the featured artist. It has previously honored the works of such musicians as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and Horace Silver.

The collective last year released “SFJAZZ Collective: Music of Stevie Wonder and New Compositions, Live in New York 2011 – Season 8,” recorded live in the intimate setting of the Jazz Standard in New York City. The deluxe, hand-numbered 3-CD set features new arrangements of the classic works of Stevie Wonder, as well as new original compositions by Collective members.

Reviewing that recording, Thomas Erdmann of wrote: “As soloists you won’t be able to find a finer collection of leaders who have come together in the spirit of communal communication; not interested in playing a game of one-upsmanship, this octet focuses on how they can serve each other which in turn serves the music.”

In Potsdam, the collective plans to perform “My Cherie Amour,” “Sir Duke,” “Do I Do,” “Superstition” and other hits by Ms. Wonder.

The group consists of tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Robin Eubanks, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Eric Harland. Alto saxophonist Antonio Hart will substitute for original Collective member Miguel Zenón, who is taking paternity leave for the birth of his first child.

A full-length documentary of the group is in production. Its videos are popular on YouTube.

The idea for the Collective arose from discussions between SFJAZZ’s founder and executive artistic director, Randall Kline, and saxophonist and original Collective member Joshua Redman. While deeply respectful of jazz’s origins and early traditions, Mr. Kline was concerned that the modern side of jazz, from roughly the mid-20th century to the present day, was often overlooked in the public eye in comparison with the so-called “Golden Age” of jazz.

Mr. Harris, Mr. Hart and Mr. Eubanks will conduct a 90-minute jazz masterclass for Crane School of Music students at 3 p.m. in Wakefield Hall the day of the concert. The masterclass is free and open to the public for viewing.

Founded in 1983, SFJAZZ is the largest nonprofit presenter of jazz and education programs in the western United States. It presents more than 100 concerts a year to more than 100,000 fans and is dedicated to advancing the art of jazz and cultivating new audiences through programming.

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