San Francisco may not be the first major American city that comes to mind when we think of jazz – New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City and, undoubtedly, New York all enjoy that easy association – but the city has been a vital, if overlooked, host since the first jazz musicians began to swing. From the Barbary Coast nightclubs at the turn of the last century to the city’s golden era, when Miles Davis and Cal Tjader played at places like The Blackhawk, San Francisco’s jazz roots run deep.
Those roots continue to feed a vibrant, diverse musical community of locally based musicians and visiting artists. The four-month long San Francisco Jazz Festival brings jazz masters and upcoming starts from all over the world to the Bay Area every Fall. The SF Jazz Collective, a touring group of extraordinary jazz artists established by SFJAZZ (who also organize the Festival), periodically return to their home base to give performances and contribute to the community through education initiatives. And of course there is Yoshi’s – the preeminent West Coast jazz club for many decades, now operating in Oakland (the original) and San Francisco (since 2007). (Jeffery McMillan)