At the corner of Fell and Franklin, on the footprint of a torn-down autobody shop, a Hathaway Dinwiddie construction crew that numbers over 100 on a busy day is working toward a rapidly approaching deadline. They have handled big projects before, like our neighbor to the West, the Trasamerica Pyramid, and if all goes smoothly, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Wednesday, Jan. 21st, 2013, SFJAZZ throws open the doors of its Hayes Valley, LEED-certified home, a stone’s throw from the Herbst Theatre, where they held their first concert 30 years ago.
Today, a block away at the nearby Hayes Valley Grill, Randall Klein, founder and executive art director of SFJAZZ, described the vision for the first night and season at the new venue, and beyond.
“The intent of the feel of the building and the programming is somewhere in between a concert hall and a nightclub,” said Klein, “so the focus of a concert hall [and] the relaxed feeling of a nightclub, and the ability to feel that you’re with people–a community feel.”
The opening night celebration will feature jazz heavies like McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Joshua Redman, Esperanza Spalding, Bobby Hutcherson, and Bill Frissell, as well as the SFJAZZ Collective, and many others. Master of Ceremonies for the event will be actor, funnyman, doctor, scholar, and everyone’s favorite TV dad, Bill Cosby.
In addition to many of the aforementioned artists taking up four-night (Thurs-Sun) residencies during the first season, SFJAZZ has appointed Resident Artistic Directors to create four-night weekends. For example, Bill Frissell will serve as R.A.D. in late April and will perform new musical settings of Allen Ginsberg’s “My Kaddish” and Hunter S. Thompson’s landmark Gonzo journalism short story, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved.” British artist Ralph Steadman, who accompanied Thompson on that first Gonzo outing, will contribute visual projections to the Ginsberg story.
Today, the press conference attendees were also taken on a brief hard-hat tour of the construction site [pics below], led in via the stage door just as any artist and their gear would enter. The principle auditorium will have a seating capacity of 700, though it will feature flexible seating and stage arrangements for more intimate performances, or standing-room, dance-friendly shows.
Speaking from the venue floor to the reporters clustered on the piano riser, architect Mark Cavagnero described the auditorium, citing the work that Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Kahn created for the Unitarian church, specifically Wright’s Unity Temple, which is similar in size, seating, dimensions, and purpose.
Cavagnero also pointed out the “vomitorium,” a sightline that points from the stage directly out to Fell Street, and through which any passer-by could watch a concert. Klein compared the viewing point to the public enclaves of McCovey Cove, where anyone can watch a few innings of a Giants game without ever stepping foot in the stadium. The building will also promote community interaction with glass-siding. At street-level, it will be completely transparent. At mezzanine-level, guests will be able to congregate on terrace bars over the street. During the daytime, a street-level cafe will be open to the public.
Although SFJAZZ kicked off their “The World Is Listening” campaign with an anonymous gift of 25 million, they are still eight million dollars short of their 63 million-dollar goal. Today, Robert Mailer Anderson, co-chair of the capital campaign, invited contributions from anyone with “50 bucks or 50 million.”
Tickets for the first season will start going on sale to SFJAZZ members Oct 13, and to the general public on Nov 3. For more info visit sfjazz.org