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SFJAZZ Center Opening Night On JazzSet

Noodling gloriously, sax men Joe Lovano and Joshua Redman feel their way into the acoustics of a new space with "Blackwell's Message," named for the irresistible drumming of Ed Blackwell, who parlayed his New Orleans parade beat all over the world. Coincidentally, New Orleans' WWOZ is providing the recording crew and a host for a live webcast and broadcast on NPR Music. We have highlights here.

Since 2004, SFJAZZ has sent its own ensemble into the world to make new music and promote the home organization. Every year, each individual in the eight-piece SFJAZZ Collective arranges a work by a major composer — in 2013, it's Chick Corea — and writes original music for the group. SFJAZZ Executive Artistic Director Randall Kline inspired Miguel Zenón's "Mastermind" (although Kline soft-pedals the "props" in Zenón's title).

Joshua Redman — a previous Artistic Director of SFJAZZ — leads a quartet in "Remember" by Irving Berlin. Bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding and drummer Eric Harland duet in her "Look No Further."

An indoor mural in the new SFJAZZ Center, at the corner of Franklin and Fell, depicts historic venues like The Black Hawk (1949-63) at Turk and Hyde in the Tenderloin District, and Keystone Korner (1973-83) in North Beach. Over the years, WBGO and NPR have broadcast live from the Bay Area on many a New Year's Eve, including a recent one at Yoshi's in Oakland with the magnificent McCoy Tyner. Tyner is here to open the SFJAZZ Center with his "Blues on the Corner."

Will the new Center drain resources from the city's jazz scene? In an interview on NPR'sA Blog Supreme, SFJAZZ Director of Education Rebeca Mauleón doesn't see it that way. She writes, "A new home for music with a state-of-the-art hall (as well as devoted educational spaces) is the dream of musicians and audiences alike. And for San Francisco to add another building in the hub of our cultural corridor represents many things: from jobs and improvements to our surrounding neighborhood to enhanced networks. Having a space to gather, to play, to sing, dance, learn, discuss, celebrate — these are incredibly meaningful."

Since this night, the SFJAZZ Center has cut the ribbon on the Joe Henderson Lab room (named for the international saxophonist who lived in San Francisco), launched the Hotplate Festival of local talent and opened a restaurant — and this month alone will host concerts and conversations with Jason Moran, Regina Carter, Béla Fleck, Paula West, Tony Bennett and more. It's more than a triumph of community, leadership, vision and fundraising. It's a place to bring your heart.

Set List And Personnel

  • "Blackwell's Message" (Lovano)
  • Joe Lovano, Joshua Redman, tenor saxophones; Matt Penman, bass; John Santos, congas; Jeff Ballard, drums.

  • "Mastermind" (Zenón)
  • SFJAZZ Collective: Avishai Cohen, trumpet; Miguel Zenón, alto sax; David Sanchez, tenor sax; Robin Eubanks, trombone; Stefon Harris, vibes; Edward Simon, piano; Matt Penman, bass; Jeff Ballard, drums.

  • "Remember" (Berlin)
  • Joshua Redman, tenor sax; Eric Reed, piano; Matt Penman, bass; Jeff Ballard, drums.

  • "Look No Further" (Spalding)
  • Esperanza Spalding, bass; Jeff Ballard, drums.

  • "Blues on the Corner" (Tyner)
  • John Handy, Redman, saxophones; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; Bill Frisell, guitar; McCoy Tyner, piano; Matt Penman, bass; Eric Harland, drums.

  • "Spain" (Corea, arr. Simon)
  • Chick Corea, electric piano, with SFJAZZ Collective.


    Thanks to SFJAZZ and NPR Music, Anya Grundmann, Suraya Mohamed, Kevin Wait, David Freedman of WWOZ. Recordings by Dwayne Brashears, Damond Jacobs, Tony Guillory of WWOZ. Surround Sound mixes by Duke Markos of JazzSet.

    Copyright 2013 WBGO

    Becca Pulliam