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Santa Cruz, California

Kuumbwa Jazz Center

320-2 Cedar Street

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The Kuumbwa Jazz Center deserves a place on any list of Bay Area jazz venues because of its international reputation as a haven for the art form of jazz. Kuumbwa (a Swahili word meaning ‘act of spontaneous creation’) is a non-profit performance and education organization dedicated to the preservation of jazz. The organization opened in 1975, and has been presenting weekly jazz concerts since then, by artists ranging from local high school jazz bands to the most renowned international performers.

The venue has a long history, built on years of hard work and sacrifice, and has over the years featured many of the most renowned names in jazz, in all of its distinct stylistic veins. Regular weekly concerts are presented every Monday and Thursday, with “one-off” concerts on various other days of the week.

On off days, the venue is often made available for concerts (in many varied styles of music, not just jazz) and private events. Kuumbwa also has a large and active education program, with a Jazz Honors band, summer jazz day camp, masterclass series and an Artists in the Schools program.

Kuumbwa Jazz Center Information

  • Public Transportation: Excellent (a 2-minute walk from SCMTD buses 12, 15, 16, 16N, 40, 41, and 42 at Laurel Street/Center Street, and several buses at the Santa Cruz Metro Center)
  • Handicap Accessibility: Good
  • Performances/Programs: Approximately 180 performances annually
  • Ticket Prices: Varies depending on performance ($0-$28, with discounts for advance purchase and Kuumbwa Jazz membership)
  • Membership: Memberships are offered with varying contributions to the organization; rewards include admission to Kuumbwa concerts, member dinners and special events, gift certificates and various jazz memorabilia.