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SFJAZZ brings together some of the nation's true mavericks for "Generations of Innovation"

Wednesday, Apr 7 2004
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Featuring an extraordinary double bill -- an all-star trio of veterans Sam Rivers (saxophone, pictured above) and Reggie Workman (bass) plus renowned young-blood Jason Moran (piano), along with the William Parker Quartet, one of New York's leading-edge groups of the past decade -- SFJAZZ's "Generations of Innovation" concert brings together some of the nation's true "mavericks" (per the series' title) of the past 40 years to demonstrate the enduring legacy of the post-'50s avant-garde while pointing the way to the future. All the players on the program are deeply connected to the revolutionary principles of "free jazz," a musicmaking strategy that exponentially opened up improvisational possibilities in the early '60s and continues to resonate to this day, but only Rivers (age 73) and Workman (66) were on the scene when this bold development first began to take shape. Workman was lucky (and gifted) enough to come of age under the tutelage of the legendary John Coltrane, while Rivers, an essential trailblazer, successfully bridged the bebop of the '40s with the era's so-called "new thing." He then went on to spearhead NYC's important DIY "loft jazz" movement, which sparked the next generation of innovators, including Parker (52), whose vision encompasses forward-looking compositional structures, high-energy improv, and a respect for jazz's rich past, especially the blues.

At 28, Moran will be the youngest cat on the stage -- and arguably the most eclectic, his virtuosic skills nailing everything from old-school Fats Wallerstyle stride piano to polyrhythmic variations on hip-hop grooves, a rare combination that bodes well for jazz's next giant step.

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Sam Prestianni

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