Thursday, August 30, 2018

Jane Ira Bloom Coming to Henderson Lab

Dawn Clement, Jane Ira Bloom, Bobby Previte, and Mark Hellas (from the SFJAZZ event page)

Readers may have noticed that recent Bleeding Edge columns have been trying to track some of the more adventurous activities in the Joe Henderson Lab of the SFJAZZ Center. On the basis of my encounters with this venue, I have come to the conclusion that, as far as listening experiences are concerned, Miner Auditorium prioritizes “experience,” while the Henderson Lab is the place for “listening.” (Others may disagree and are free to do so!) As a result, I plan to try to do a better job of tracking Henderson activities, particular when “listening” is likely to involve a journey of discovery.

Such will probably be the case next month when Jane Ira Bloom will bring her quartet to SFJZZ. The SFJAZZ event page describes Bloom as “Jazz’s greatest living soprano saxophonist.” I am willing to go along with this with the disclaimer that even trying to take on the soprano saxophone involves an intense commitment to discipline reinforced by courageous determination. Like the soprano (E-flat) clarinet, the soprano saxophone is a difficult instrument to tame; and to elicit convincing expressiveness once it has been tamed is all the more difficult.

My first contact with Bloom was through her Sixteen Sunsets album, which came out in December of 2013. She had a solid command of tone through which she made it clear that she was not playing an alto saxophone in a very high register. Furthermore, her sense of pitch was so solid that it never gave the impression that she was using portamento to compensate for inaccuracies. Finally, she clearly knew how, as is the case with any single-reed instrument, different registers have different character, allowing her to find just the right rhetorical context for each of the fourteen tracks on her album.

The title of her SFJAZZ concert will be Wild Lines, taken from the title of her latest album, Wild Lines: Improvising Emily Dickinson. The tracks on this album are not so much focused on setting Dickinson’s words (as a composer of art song might do). Rather, Bloom reimagines the poetry and realizes her imagination through original compositions. The album consists of two CDs, the first of which is all music, while the second involves the interplay of the music with narrations of Dickinson’s poetry by the actor Deborah Rush. The music itself is played by Bloom’s current quartet, whose other members are Dawn Clement (piano), Mark Hellas (bass), and Bobby Previte (drums).

Like many of the Henderson offerings, this concert has been scheduled for two performances. Both will take place on Sunday, September 23, at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m, respectively, There are separate event pages for the online purchase of tickets to the 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. shows. All tickets will be sold for $30. The SFJAZZ Center is located at 201 Franklin Street, on the northwest corner of Fell Street.

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