San Francisco Jazz Festival Announces 2014 Lineup

Categories: Jazz

Chase Jarvis
Zoe Keating performs at this summer's San Francisco Jazz Festival.
This June brings the 32nd annual San Francisco Jazz Festival, an 11-day event taking place at the SFJAZZ Center's Miner Auditorium and Joe Henderson lab as well as the nearby Church of the Advent of Christ the King. Organizers today released the lineup for the concert series, which includes Buena Vista Social Club founder Juan de Marcos and the Afro-Cuban All Stars; Medeski, Martin & Wood performing with guitarist John Scofield; Jazz Mafia founder (and upcoming SF Weekly panelist) Adam Theis; tech-enabled cellist of note Zoe Keating; and the local Grammy-winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra -- along with many others. Check out the lineup below:

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The Best Jazz Jam Sessions in the Bay Area

Categories: Jazz

Biscuits and Blues hosts one of the city's best jazz jam sessions -- but only until the end of this month.
San Francisco jazz fans are relatively lucky: a handful of jazz clubs, such as the SFJAZZ Center and Yoshi's in San Francisco and Oakland offer year-round jazz programming that includes big-name acts and up-and-coming talent from around the world. But tickets can be expensive, and with that ticket price comes higher expectations for a polished, high-caliber performance. But raw, live jazz performance happens here every week as well, in smaller, cheaper, darker venues where foot traffic is encouraged, and unrehearsed spontaneity is expected.

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Five Reasons Why the Monterey Jazz Festival Might Be the Best Music Festival in the World

Cole Thompson

The 56th annual Monterey Jazz Festival takes place this weekend at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Organizers bill the event as the "long running jazz festival in the world." What they fail to mention, however, is that it might also be the best music festival in the world. Here are five reasons why.

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SFJAZZ Now Has a Permanent Home -- So What's it Doing With the Annual SFJAZZ Festival?

Categories: Jazz

Henrik Kam
For 30 years, the nonprofit organization now known as SFJAZZ has curated the San Francisco Jazz Festival, an annual showcase of live performances by well-known artists, more obscure ones, and local acts at venues throughout the city over the course of multiple weeks.

This year's festival, from June 12 to June 23, will happen at the new SFJAZZ Center, a $64 million, 35,000-square-foot performance space, education center, and office headquarters in Hayes Valley that opened in January. The new center has a full, diverse, year-round calendar of jazz performances and events. So the question now is, why exactly does this annual jazz festival still need to exist?

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The Bad Plus' Dave King on How Touring in a Jazz Band Is Different From Touring in a Rock Band

Categories: Interview, Jazz

Reid Anderson (l), Ethan Iverson (c), and Dave King (r) are The Bad Plus.jpg
Reid Anderson, Ethan Iverson, and Dave King (L-R) are the Bad Plus
The Bad Plus visits the Bay Area on a regular basis, and we are grateful for this. As drummer Dave King told us in a recent conversation, that feeling is mutual. "San Francisco is one of the cities we've felt huge support from over the years," he says.

As one third of the Bad Plus, King anchors many of this hard-driving experimental jazz trio's tunes with a ferocity and physicality that's heard plainly on the group's recordings, but is even more evident live. It is largely because of King's contribution that the Bad Plus is often characterized as a jazz trio with a rock edge; the group also boasts the lyrical, harmonically complex piano work of Ethan Iverson and graceful, inspired bass of Reid Anderson. The trio operates in a truly co-equal fashion, with each member sharing in composition duties. Live, the communication of the unit is palpable as it establishes three things in parallel: restless innovation, musical sophistication, and an enormous sense of fun. King recently spoke with us by phone prior to the Bad Plus' performances at Yoshi's Oakland, today (Tuesday, April 30) through Thursday, May 2.

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Don't You Forget About Molly Ringwald at Yoshi's on Tuesday


No need to remind anyone who Molly Ringwald is -- teenagers (and the rest of us) are still watching those movies, and it's fair to assume they will for another generation or two, at a minimum. But it might come as a surprise to some who adore her 1980s work with John Hughes that she has been a lifelong singer as well as an actress. The daughter of a professional jazz musician, Ringwald has now come full-circle, returning to her first experiences in the creative arts with the release of Except Sometimes from Concord Records, a lush, polished album of standards. She will appear at Yoshi's SF on Tuesday, performing as part of a CD release party. Ahead of the show, Ringwald spoke to us by phone about her early experiences with music and the evolution of her multifaceted career.

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The SFJAZZ Center's Opening Concert Is Streaming Live Tonight

Categories: Jazz

The SFJAZZ Center in Hayes Valley
It's open! The SFJAZZ Center, the West Coast's first facility dedicated to jazz performance and education, opened its doors on Monday, and with only a few hiccups, most of which are now resolved.

So it's time to party. And even if you're not the gala-hopping VIP-type, you can witness performances by jazz greats like McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea, as well as younger artists like Esperanza Spalding and the SFJAZZ Collective, as they happen this evening.

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Dave Brubeck: The Genius Who Made Experimental Jazz Accessible

For a lot of people, jazz is just a stereotype -- a nebulous free-form art that comedians (or any of us, really) will parody without ever knowing what it's really about. Just hit some keys and scat a few syllables: jazz! And there are certainly performers who embrace the improvisational liberties offered by jazz so enthusiastically that they endanger their accessibility to mainstream audiences. However, Dave Brubeck was not only accessible but popular. His defining quartet, which toured and recorded together for 10 years (1958-1967), created the first million-selling jazz album, Time Out, in 1959 -- the same year that Miles Davis released Kind of Blue and Charles Mingus put out Mingus Ah Um (all on the same label, by the way).

Brubeck's accessibility was not the result of catering to the marketplace, but grew out of a confluence of public interest in "difficult" music and artists (Brubeck, Davis, and Mingus among them) who had been working in jazz for decades and had simultaneously matured as recording artists.

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12 Years of Jazz Mafia: Adam Theis on the Group's Rise and Anniversary Concert

Categories: Hip-Hop, Jazz, Q&A

Jazz Mafia
They wrote the world's first hip-hop symphony (Brass, Bows, and Beats) and performed it at the Monterey Jazz Festival. They held a regular Tuesday night gig at an S.F. club for a decade. They formed a live hip-hop group (Shotgun Wedding Quintet) that rhymed about Bay Area history. They've performed alongside artists like Beck, Carlos Santana, Digital Underground, and Lyrics Born. And this Saturday, Nov. 17, founder Adam Theis and the collective of San Francisco musicians known as the Jazz Mafia will celebrate their 12 years of existence with a blowout at the Fillmore featuring all of the group's spinoffs and artists, and with a special contribution from noted local DJ Qbert. Ahead of the show, we spoke with Theis about the origins of Jazz Mafia, how things have changed in 12 years, and what to expect at Saturday's show.

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Go See Shirley Clarke's Groundbreaking Ornette Coleman Documentary at the Roxie

Categories: Film, Jazz


Shirley Clarke was a trailblazing, staunchly independent filmmaker who fused documentary methods and subject matter with fictional storytelling techniques. Her films often dealt with urban living, jazz music, and American artists. Her 1963 feature, Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel with the World, won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. Milestone Films is in the process of restoring a number of Clarke's most influential and under-seen films, bringing them to home video for the first time. And her final film, Ornette: Made in America, is even getting some theatrical screenings, including in S.F. this week. This unique portrait of one of the 20th century's key jazz composers displays Clarke's fusion of documentary and narrative techniques to create a seamless, vivid portrait of a man whose influence not only in jazz but throughout a number of musical genres is still a creative force today.

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