Economic pressure and changing tastes wiped out the era of large jazz ensembles after World War II, but a handful of institutions continue to explore the rich dynamic and interpersonal opportunities that arise from having a lot of top-form players on the same stage. High on any such list has to be the SFJAZZ Collective, a touring unit that combines eight of the most talented players in contemporary jazz and encourages them to re-imagine the work of key precursors.
The Collective is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and will mark the occasion with a string of concerts this week that will draw on all the songwriters the group has honored over the years, from Horace Silver to Stevie Wonder. (Thursday is mostly Monk, though, in honor of the pianist's birthday.) Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 4 p.m. Sunday and an 11 a.m. family matinee Saturday, at SFJAZZ Center. Tickets are $5 to $65.
Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz calendar this week:
- Caravan of Thieves starts with solid gypsy jazz instincts, adds some neo-folkie angst, a touch of mordant humor and an extra soupcon of rhythm to come up with something original and totally fun. They perform 8 p.m. Monday at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley. $18.50-$20.50
- Christian McBride, one of the most iunfluential -- and busiest -- bassists of the modern era, performs with his trio, 8 p.m. Wednesday at Yoshi's Oakland. $24
- Bria Skonberg, a gifted trumpeter with one foot in old New Orleans and the other in the future, performs with her quintet, 8 p.m. Wednesday at Piedmont Piano Company in Oakland. $15
- Inventive and energetic trumpter Dave Douglas performs with his quintet, 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday at Duende in Oakland. $15
- Bay Area piano prince Si Perkoff plays favorite tunes from Thelonious Monk's "Brilliant Corners," 8 and 9:30 p.m. Thursday at SFJAZZ Center. $15-$20
- As a performer, composer and dean of what was for decades the most important finishing school in jazz, drummer Art Blakey and his Jazz Messengers left a big imprint on the music. Fellow stickman and former Messenger Ralph Peterson celebrates that legacy -- with the help of noted colleagues such as saxophonist Donald Harrison and bassist Reggie Workman -- 8 and 10 p.m. Friday at Yoshi's San Francisco. $25-$31
- Two of the hardest-working guys in Bay Area jazz -- pianist Larry Vukovich and saxman Noel Jewkes -- pair up for an 8 p.m. Friday concert at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $12-$15
- Ellen Robinson and her Don't Wait Too Long Band breathe a big lungful of new life into the standards, 8 p.m. Friday at the Sound Room in Oakland. $20
- Le Jazz Hot does right by the swinging Django Reinhardt legacy, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mildred Owen Concert Hall in Pacifica. $12-$20
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