Jazz Musician Matt Penman Rearranges Miles Davis

The SFJAZZ Collective, a United States-based jazz ensemble, which originated in 2004, has thrived with shifting arrangements. The Collective, which includes New Zealand-born bassist Matt Penman (seated far left), has a lineup that has evolved several times over the years. This year the octet brought the music of Miles Davis to the Mondavi Center in Davis, California.

Besides creating arrangements of existing music (other composers have included Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter and Stevie Wonder) each Collective member receives a commission to write an original composition for the band. The rarest aspect of the Collective, though, is that they rehearse for a couple of weeks before going out on the road for tours that often take them around the world.

Penman said the time commitment of the Collective is significant, with a worthwhile artistic payoff.

“For some people it can be daunting to pencil off five or six weeks at a chunk and maybe not see your family,” Penman said from him home in New York. As personnel change, so naturally does the sound and temperament of the group, creating a dynamic that seems to have fueled the group each season.

“I think it’s been interesting and good for the evolution of the band to have so many different voices in there,” Penman said.

“I’ve really genuinely enjoyed every iteration of the band because obviously the musicians are at the highest level,” Penman said. “The different personalities, their own approach to band leading, collaboration and compositional voices. It’s been fascinating to get a chance to work intensely with them.”

Palmerston North-born Penman moved to the US in 1994 to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Original article Marcus Crowder, The Sacramento Bee, October 13, 2016.

Photo by Jay Blakesberg.


Tags: Matt Penman  Miles Davis  Sacramento Bee (The)  SFJazz Collective