Compared with just about anywhere else in the country, the Bay Area jazz scene enjoys an embarrassment of riches, with venues like Yoshi's in Oakland and the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco presenting world-class acts throughout the year. But as fortunate as we Bay Area jazz fans might be, we're about to get even more spoiled.
The highly respected San Francisco Jazz Festival be-bops into town June 6-19, bringing with it a slew of top performers. Sponsored by SFJAZZ and now in its 35th year, the festival has grown from a two-day event into a series of 43 shows spread over 13 days. All five venues are in San Francisco's Hayes Valley neighborhood, with most concerts taking place at the Miner Auditorium and the Joe Henderson Lab at the SFJAZZ Center.
The festival offers a huge variety of sounds. You can hear big band music, Gypsy Jazz, funk, fusion and more. There are concerts devoted to the saxophone, Gulf Coast Soul, the music of Otis Redding, and Afro- and Caribbean-tinged music.
What better way to kick off a great festival than an outdoor party with free admission? That's what you'll find on June 6 from 5-10 p.m. when the Proxy outdoor space (Octavia Street, between Hayes and Fell streets) hosts live music, a beer garden, videos and food trucks.
Concerts begin the next night with a show by Jacob Collier, the 22-year-old British solo artist who shot to fame on YouTube and grabbed a couple of Grammy Awards for his cutting-edge mix of live performance and pre-recorded tracks and videos featuring him singing and playing multiple instruments. The following nights include talents like ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro ("the Jimi Hendrix of the ukulele"), veteran trumpeter Herb Alpert with Latin jazz vocalist Lani Hall, and chart-topping singer Lizz Wright, whose earthy voice, according to the New York Times, "commands strict and often spine-tingling attention."
A show by Hudson, a new all-star quartet formed by the legendary jazz drummer/pianist, Jack DeJohnette, promises to be not just a festival highlight, but a tuneful reminder of just how spoiled we Bay Area jazz fans are.
Tickets for non-members go on sale March 29 at 11 a.m.