SF Jazz Founder Shares Views on “Spiritual Transport”

Randall Kline, SFJAZZ Founder & Executive Artistic Director, may not be an avid ferry rider, but he certainly appreciates the relaxed and leisurely mode of transport. Perfect, we might add, for streaming jazz while taking in the stunning waterfront views.

SFJAZZ presents more than 350 concerts a year to more than 150,000 fans. The LEED Gold certified, award-winning, three-story SFJAZZ Center designed by noted San Francisco-based architect Mark Cavagnero, comprises 35,000 square feet in a transparent and open structure featuring the state-of-the-art Robert N. Miner Auditorium with flexible seating from 350 to 700, the 100-seat multi-purpose Joe Henderson Lab, rehearsal spaces, digital learning lab,”B-Side, a bar/cafe;” a retail shop/box office, and SFJAZZ administrative offices. The SFJAZZ Center is the result of a $64 million capital campaign. SFJAZZ – originally titled Jazz in the City — was founded in 1983 with a seed grant from Grants for the Arts of the San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund. Seventeen years later in December of 1999 Kline announced the establishment of SFJAZZ, the San Francisco Jazz Organization, a much-expanded organization with year round concert and educational programs.

Cultural Currents: To give you some idea of just the kind of trivia our readers enjoy, a subscriber recently wrote in that she was fascinated by the Andrew Sister’s Ferry Boat Serenade, (1940) written by Harold Adamson, and set to the music of Eldo di Lazzaro. The original lyrics were penned by Mario Panzeri for a song recorded in Italian (La Piccinina) and Mr. di Lazzaro. Can you suggest any other jazz-flavored number that might appeal to our audience?  
Randall Kline: SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director and bassist Christian McBride (who hosts NPR’s Jazz Night In America) will perform with Dvorak String Quartet and Schubert’s Trout Quintet on October 5 at the SFJAZZ Center.  The program consists of Dvořák’s String Quintet No.2 in G Major, Op. 77 as well as Schubert’s Piano Quintet in A Major, D.667 (Trout), with artists including violinist Ian Swensen, the Isaac Stern Chair of Violin at San Francisco Conservatory; Evan Price, violinist with the Hot Club of San Francisco and Turtle Island Quartet; Carla Maria Rodrigues, Principle Violist of the SF Opera Orchestra; cellist Jennifer Kloetzel, founding member of the Cypress String Quartet, and GRAMMY-nominated pianist Robert Koenig. 
CC: The structural values contained in the three-story SFJAZZ Center designed by the celebrated San Francisco-based architect Mark Cavagnero seem almost nautical. Do you care to reflect on this observation, or suggest another aspect of the Center that is evocative of ferry travel?  
Kline: We built the SFJAZZ Center around the premise of creating a space where the music can fully realize its capacity to transport listeners.  
CC: Can you tell us more about the “B-Side”? Looks intriguing.
Kline: The b-side of an album is the unexpected and often the cool option to explore. B-Side is as integrated into the Center in a way that the offerings, the style, the libations, food, and the relaxed decor at B-Side fit with the architecture and acoustics of the Center.  Hanson Li and Salt Partners Group team and done an amazing in creating the right space for our audiences before, during, and after concerts.  
CC: Having once served on the board of the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau (now San Francisco Travel), you have a keen understanding of what the City’s tourists and visitors are seeking. How do you make them aware of SFJAZZ?  
Kline: We strive to program the highest level of art in the best environment possible. This is the top venue of its kind in the world.  We are recognized for our excellence by word-of-mouth and by the press and those two avenues are the surest way to attracted visitors.
CC: The ferry is arguably the only form of local public transportation that features a full bar for adults. By the same token, SFJAZZ permits patrons to carry adult beverages into the performances. Does this suggest that the two share a certain measure of trust and sophistication?  
Kline: Yes, I agree.
CC: What major new jazz discoveries have you made recently? Rising stars?
Kline: Every day provides new discoveries. A new rising star, at least in the U.S., is British jazz trio GoGo Penguin who will be at SFJAZZ Center’s Joe Henderson Lab on September 20-21.  
CC: Finally, can you recommend other resources for our readers? Books, recordings websites, to broaden their exposure and understanding this great art form?
Kline: I recommend Ted Gioia’s book “How to Listen to Jazz” and you can check out SFJAZZ’s playlists on Apple MusicThe SFJAZZ blog is also full of interesting tidbits of information, lists, and references for people to learn more about the music.  Most importantly, Go see live music!

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