A First Look at the New SFJAZZ Center


After all the anticipation and more than a year of construction, the brand-spanking new SFJAZZ Center will open its doors in Hayes Valley on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 21). Here's a little of what to expect at this first-ever standalone structure in the country designed and dedicated to jazz.

Designed by award-winning architect Mark Cavagnero
35,000 square feet
Three stories
Auditorium adjustable from 350 to 700 seats
LEED Certified
80-seat multi-purpose ensemble room
Rehearsal spaces, digital learning lab, Charles Phan bar/cafe, retail shop, and admin offices
$25 million anonymous gift to help SFJAZZ meet its fundraising goal of $63 million

Season 1 Lineup
Tickets to the 1/23 opening night show (with Bill Cosby, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, and Esperanza Spalding) are sold-out, but the performance will air live on here on NPR.

Other Season 1 highlights include: the February Hotplate Fest, where Bay Area musicians reimagine the works of jazz legends; the Afro-Cuban All-Stars; Meklit Hadero; Zakir Hussain; Portuguese fado superstar Mariza; Japanese pianist Hiromi; Béla Flec, and the beloved Tony Bennett.

The SFJAZZ Center is designed to be more than just a performance hall. New for SFJAZZ is a resident artistic director program, giving a select few the opportunity to program, curate, perform, and become involved in outreach and educational activities. The first lineup is a star-studded set of directors: three MacArthur "Genius" Fellows—pianist Jason Moran, violinist Regina Carter, saxophonist Miguel Zenón—plus Grammy-winning guitarist Bill Frisell, and five-time Grammy-nominated percussionist John Santos.

Three murals, hand painted on ceramic tiles by artists Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, in the upstairs lobby and green room will visually help tell the story of jazz.

Continuing education for all ages is a big part of SFJAZZ's overall curriculum. The High School All-Stars is made up of the best high school jazz musicians in the Bay Area. Look for them on the spring lineup. Hour-long matinees are meant for families and include performance and audience participation to get parents and kids involved in music. The center will also offer jazz appreciation courses, master classes, and group instruction for adults including a four-class series called "Jazz and Blues Legends of the Bay Area." For those shorter on time, SFJAZZ also offers pre-performances talks for select shows. The Monday Night Band is geared towards aspiring musicians looking for a structured approach in a jazz orchestra setting. The program ends with a public performance in May. And last but not least, the coolest new innovation is SFJAZZ's digital lab, where students will learn about digital music production, theory and musicianship, and a whole slew of other high-tech know-how.

An Abbreviated Timeline of SFJAZZ's 30-Year History
June 1983: SFJAZZ debuts as "Jazz in the City" with an eclectic 3-day lineup
1990: The Duke Ellington Orchestra revisits Grace Cathedral 25 years after its debut there
1991: Trumpet legend Dizzy Gillespie and his big band perform a salute to bebop
1998: A new spring program begins with Bill Frisell, Etta James, and more
2001: Debut of SFJAZZ High School All-Star Ensemble
2004: The SFJAZZ Collective debuts with a lineup including vibes great Bobby Hutcherson
2006: Legendary pianist Keith Jarrett plays the War Memorial
May 2011: The SFJAZZ Center breaks ground
Jan. 23, 2013: SFJAZZ Opening Night Gala with Bill Cosby as Master of Ceremonies, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding, and many more

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