Founded by SFJAZZ in 2004, the SFJAZZ Collective is a leaderless group and a democratic composer’s workshop that represents what’s happening now in jazz. The Collective’s mission is to perform fresh arrangements of works by a modern master and newly commissioned pieces by each member. Through this pioneering approach, simultaneously honoring music’s greatest figures while championing jazz’s up-to-the-minute directions, the SFJAZZ Collective embodies SFJAZZ’s commitment to jazz as a living, ever-relevant art form. Over their fifteen-year existence, the SFJAZZ Collective has honored the music of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Michael Jackson, Miles Davis, António Carlos Jobim, and Sly Stone, and has created over 100 new arrangements and original compositions.
In addition to presenting the SFJAZZ annual season, the San Francisco Jazz Festival and SFJAZZ Summer Sessions, SFJAZZ supports a vibrant local music scene with Hotplate events and their free summer concerts at Stanford Shopping Center and Levi’s Plaza, and nurtures aspiring musicians with diverse education programs and performing ensembles.
In January 2013, SFJAZZ took the most audacious step in its evolution, opening the 36,000-square-foot, $64 million SFJAZZ Center on the corner of Fell and Franklin streets in the heart of San Francisco’s cultural corridor.
The first stand-alone structure in the country built specifically for jazz, the SFJAZZ Center was designed by award-winning San Francisco architect Mark Cavagnero, who worked with acoustician Sam Berkow and theater designer Len Auerbach to create a main performance space with the acoustic quality of a great concert hall and the relaxed intimacy of a jazz club. That’s the Robert N. Miner Auditorium, a flexible, scalable venue that seats up to 700 people in close proximity to the musicians with superb sightlines and pristine acoustics tailored for jazz performance.
The 100-seat Joe Henderson Lab is the SFJAZZ Center’s street-level performance and rehearsal space, named for the late, great saxophonist and San Francisco resident, which also serves as the nerve center for the organization’s education department. Students of all ages use the Joe Henderson Lab as well as the practice rooms and cutting edge digital lab for workshops, rehearsals, master classes and private instruction. “We wanted to create a community gathering place around jazz,” Kline says, “a place where jazz can do what it’s always done—grow and change. Now there’s a permanent place in San Francisco where it can flourish.”
All SFJAZZ programs reflect a spirit of artistic exploration, embracing the full breadth of jazz and its related music; emphasize thematic programming, with tributes to jazz masters and celebrations of particular musical instruments, trends or styles; and strive to instill enthusiasm for jazz among a wider audience.