Benefit for the Puerto Rican People after Hurricane Maria

Posted on in Art + Soul by Roy Strassman

Berkeley Freight & Salvage, October 8

In early October, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, leaving it without electricity and most of its people without food or water. As the situation quickly worsened, Puerto Rican musician-composer Miguel Zenón just as rapidly stepped in, joining musician and de facto community organizer John Santos and the Freight’s musical coordinator, Peter Williams, to produce a benefit whose lineup included the Bay Area’s fine Puerto Rican purveyors of music, dance, and poetry.

The satisfying first set consisted entirely of accomplished community-based performers, followed by a homey, schmoozy intermission. The rousing second set began with a duo performance by tabla master Zakir Hussein and noted tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman. As Bay Area residents who had just come off a stint together at SFJAZZ, their virtuosity and easy stage manner delighted and further energized an already effusive audience.

Enter now some of the SFJAZZ Collective, whose members meet annually for a monthlong residence that culminates in highly anticipated performances at SFJAZZ. The ensemble is composed of some of jazz’s most respected players, including MacArthur fellow Miguel Zenón, alto sax; David Sanchez, tenor sax; Robin Eubanks, trombone; Sean Jones, trumpet; Obed Calvaire, drums; Marcus Shelby, bass; and Edward Simon, piano. After heated short set, they remained on stage for the grand finale, with Rebecca Mauleon now taking over on piano, percussion great Luis Romero playing congas, and Zakir Hussein and Joshua Redman returning to complete the group. “Caravan,” the enduring standard by Puerto Rican composer Juan Tizol, was chosen, the crowd clapping wildly in instant recognition. Solo after solo issued forth in an ever-arching crescendo until, finally, all five horns were furiously soloing simultaneously, transcendently, and for one magical illusory instant, time just ceased to be and only ecstasy remained!


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