Jazz fans have a new destination in San Francisco with the opening this week of SFJAZZ Center, a unique performance hall and cultural hub built specifically for and dedicated to jazz. The $64 million 35,000-square-foot structure, built on the site of a former auto repair shop, houses a 700-seat auditorium, an 80-seat rehearsal space, a digital lab, dressing rooms, space for education activities and a café and bar. Its outer walls of glass allow glimpses from the street of lobbies and performance spaces.
A grand-opening concert, emceed by Bill Cosby and featuring a dozen jazz heavyweights, was just the first in what will be more than 100 concerts scheduled at the center in the year ahead. Headlining through early June are concerts by singers Tony Bennett and Dianne Reeves, composer and pianist Hiromi Uehara and cabaret diva Ute Lemper. Also scheduled are alternating four-night residencies by bassist Dave Holland, pianist Brad Mehldau, Indian tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and Portuguese fado singer Mariza. The season’s artists in residence include violinist Regina Carter, guitarist Bill Frisell and saxophonist Miguel Zenón.
The center is a block from Davies Symphony Hall in the city’s performing arts corridor. SFJAZZ, founded in 1983, also hosts San Francisco’s annual fall jazz festival.
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