With creations by MacArthur geniuses, stars like Dave Holland, Bela Fleck, Dianne Reeves and Portuguese fado diva Mariza, and tributes to Cuban son, poetry, the B-3 organ and Weimar Germany, SFJAZZ Center’s inaugural season, from January 23 through June 2, 2013, dazzles. Below are some of the highlights. (Check our separate article about the SFJAZZ Center for info about the building and why it's precedent-setting).
During each of 19 weeks, performances and presentations in the Robert N. Miner Auditorium from Thursday through Sunday are led by a different artist or bear a different theme. The grand opening week (January 24-27, 2013) focuses on jazz’s legacy and ends with Joshua Redmond, McCoy Tyner, Mary Stallings, tap dancer Savion Glover and others presenting a birthday party for the vibraphone great Bobby Hutcherson. Jazz in the City in the second week includes local favorites Kim Nalley, Paula West, the Marcus Shelby Quartet and Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers.
Under SFJAZZ’s resident artistic director program, Grammy-winning guitarist Bill Frisell, San Francisco master percussionist John Santos and MacArthur fellows Jason Moran, violinist Regina Carter and saxophonist Miguel Zenón each designs, curates and executes a week’s programs. Bill Frisell (April 18-21) unveils two new multi-media works for which he composed the scores, one inspired by poet Allen Ginsberg’s Kaddish (written when Ginsberg’s mother committed suicide) and "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," based on Hunter S. Thompson’s 1970 article.
Pianist Jason Moran’s week (May 2-5) opens quietly and then explodes. After a one-night solo, the New York composer stages the Fats Waller Dance Project, riffing on and twisting Waller’s melodies. For the finale, Moran and his Bandwagon quartet improvise while local professional skateboarders soar and spin off of half-pipe assembled in front of the Miner Auditorium stage.
Musicians such as bassist Dave Holland and Indian tabla master Zakir Hussain will also mix up their weeks. Dave Holland (February 7-10) performs solo, with pianist Kenny Barron and with his quintet. Zakir Hussain (March 7-10) does a percussion-only night, an Indian classical music concert, a duo with saxophonist Joshua Redman, and a trio with banjoist Bela Fleck and bassist Edgar Meyer.
Although mostly preoccupied with rehearsals and classes, the Joe Henderson Lab hosts SFJAZZ Hotplate, a series in which Bay Area musicians perform one-night tributes to legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Gil Scott-Heron, Quincy Jones, and of course Joe Henderson. A program zeroing in on the bluesy jazz of the portable Hammond B-3 organ (January 31-February 2) and a poetry festival (June 6-9) organized by Ishmael Reed will also be in the ensemble room.
Other Programs at SFJAZZ Center
Education: Classes for high-school students; master classes and group lessons for older teen and adult musicians; and jazz appreciation courses for adults. The SFJAZZ Digital Lab offers various classes in digital music production for older teens and adults. They cover theory, form and compositional technique, MIDI basics, notation skills, sequencing and audio recording and software tools
Family Matinees & Workshops: Tailored to elementary-school aged kids, these programs include live performances, audience participation and Q & A time. Author Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) and bassist and band leader Marcus Shelby are among those leading the Saturday sessions.