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SJZ Collective Plays Monk at Cafe Stritch

In Music
MONK APOSTLES: SJZ Collective brings their reimagining of Thelonious Monk to Cafe Stritch.

MONK APOSTLES: SJZ Collective brings their reimagining of Thelonious Monk to Cafe Stritch.

The South Bay’s jazz scene is one of the best in the Bay Area. That’s thanks in large part to San Jose Jazz. The organization hosts two seasonal soirees—Summer Fest and Winter Fest—and regularly puts on stellar shows at Café Stritch (another key to our region’s thriving jazz community).

Now with the release of a new album of tunes celebrating the work of a jazz legend, another San Jose Jazz project, the SJZ Collective, is adding to the region’s mix of great live jazz.

SJZ Collective Reimagines Monk is the debut album from a group of working local musicians that explores the fascinating and entrancing breadth of Thelonious Monk’s catalog. And it all comes on the eve of the musician’s centennial.

Born out of both the success of the San Jose Jazz Summer Jazz Camp, and the cranial innerworkings of Silicon Valley-based drummer and DRUM! Magazine contributor, Wally Schnalle, the SJZ Collective is on a mission to bring together an ever-evolving and expanding list of the best jazz musicians in the area to create great music that honors the complex and fascinating history of jazz—all while still striking out on its own. Currently, the collective features drummer and founder, Schnalle, trumpeter and flugelhorn player John L. Worley Jr., guitarist Hristo Vitchev, saxophonist Oscar Pangilinan, organist Brian Ho, and bassist Saul Sierra; but founder Schnalle hopes to add even more eminent musicians to the mix.


Up until now, the SJZ Collective has kept its energy in jazz’s relative inner-circle—appearing this year at SJZ Summer Fest, as well as at Café Pink House, Impulse Room and Café Stritch, among others. But the release of a new album, which initially debuted as a project at San Jose Jazz Winter Fest 2018, has set the Collective’s sights on the main stage.

“Monk’s music as always resonated with [us],” Schnalle says before adding: “Monk’s compositional voice and performances cannot be replicated. His musical identity was singular.”

As such, the album presents original arrangements of classic Thelonious Monk jams. It is an explosive yet thoughtful mix of classic tunes with contemporary twists. Featuring four compositions, originally recorded at San Jose’s Valley Christian High School studio, SJZ Collective Reimagines Monk hits all the right notes, bringing together jazz newbies and jazzophiles alike.

“I want the audience to experience these great musicians supporting each other’s musical identities while they play some great arrangements of Monk compositions,” says Schnalle on his hopes for the album’s reception. “The recording represents that in an excellent way, Schnalle says, adding: “but the best way to get the full experience is to come out and see us do it live.”

More than just a musical group, the SJZ Collective is also a global ambassador of San Jose Jazz and the South Bay jazz community. The Collective just finished up an October tour of select concerts in Taiwan.

SJZ Collective
Dec 14, 8:30pm, Free
Cafe Stritch, San Jose

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