Though often viewed as a dead form of music, jazz had a breath of fresh life pumped into it when the wildly anticipated SFJAZZ Center opened on Wednesday in Hayes Valley. The $64 million facility is billed as the first stand-alone building designed for jazz in the U.S. Last night's concert brought out all kinds of luminaries and music aficionados. The concert, broadcast on radio and online, represented the idea that the new space is meant for all jazz fans, not just a select few. Take from that what you will.
Among the top-drawer attendees at Wednesday night's gala were Bill Cosby (who should have reenacted the staircase lip-synchscene from The Cosby Show), Robert Mailer Anderson, Esperanza Spalding, Joshua Redman and Joe Lovano, pianists McCoy Tyner and Chick Corea, as well as each of this season's five "resident artistic directors" — Bill Frisell, Jason Moran, Regina Carter, John Santos, and Miguel Zenó. Other less noteworthy celebrities (if you will) in attendance were former mayor Willie Brown, Wilkes Bashford, noted theft victim Nancy Pelosi, and a smattering of the city's antiquated society freaks. (Scenes from the night's festivities were expertly captured by Catherine Bigelow.)
Last night's choice opening concert was captured by NPR Music (who gave the new center rave reviews, of course), which you can listen to right here. Highly recommended, folks. Enjoy.