The San Francisco Jazz Scene: Venues, Festivals, and More

San Francisco Jazz Music ScenceNo doubt about it, San Francisco loves jazz! The City by the Bay is home to one of the most thriving jazz scenes in the country. With numerous radio stations playing everything from big band to post bop to the latest smooth jazz, an almost year-round slate of jazz concerts and festivals, and some of the best listening rooms in the world, jazz in San Francisco is not only surviving, it’s thriving!

Bay Area Jazz Radio

The San Francisco Bay Area has many jazz radio stations broadcasting everything from Big Band to smooth jazz. Many colleges in the area also feature jazz radio shows playing both the masters and the latest local and national up-and-coming talent. Here are some to check out:

  • KCEA 89.1 FM – The love of jazz in San Francisco starts early at this high school-run jazz station! KCEA is broadcast from Menlo-Atherton High School and features Classic Big Band jazz from the 1930s and 40s.
  • Radio Sausalito 1610 AM – Even the AM side of the dial features jazz in San Francisco; Radio Sausalito plays “Foot Stompin’ Jazz” 24/7!
  • KCSM Jazz 91.1 – A listener-supported radio station, Jazz 91 features the best in local, national, and classic jazz, along with specialty shows.
  • KISQ Smooth Jazz 98.1 FM – If you prefer contemporary jazz, KISQ is the station for you!

Jazz Concerts Around the Bay

San Francisco boasts a number of concert halls and alternative venues that host amazing performances year-round. Here are a few of the best to check out:

  • Sonoma-Cutrer Vinyards – This vineyard is home to the Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards Jazzy Summer Nights, a series of Saturday evening concerts featuring the best local talent along with national and international jazz stars.
  • SF JAZZ Center – The SF JAZZ Center is the first concert hall of its type in the United States: a freestanding performance venue featuring flexible seating and staging. Built specifically for jazz music, it brings jazz artists from around the world for concerts and residencies year-round.
  • BCA/Rafiki Wellness Center – Home to a yearly Jazz & Blues Concert Series, an annual event featuring the best local talent San Francisco has to offer!
  • Old First Presbyterian Church – This venue is the home of the Old First Concert Series, which features a mix of jazz and classical performances throughout the summer. It’s a great place to catch a show!

Jazz Festivals

San Francisco hosts a large number of music festivals, many of which feature jazz performances, as well as several festivals dedicated solely to jazz.  Here are two of the most popular:

  • San Francisco Jazz Festival – The LA Times calls this the preeminent event of its kind in the United States – it’s a pretty big deal! Featuring over 40 performances over the course of 12 days, the San Francisco Jazz Festival brings artists from around the world to perform.
  • Fillmore Jazz Festival – Every summer more than 100,000 enthusiastic fans descend on San Francisco for the Fillmore Jazz Festival, which celebrates a prosperous tradition of jazz, culture, and cuisine against the picturesque backdrop of Fillmore Street.

Jazz Clubs In and Around San Francisco

Jazz in San Francisco can be found almost everywhere, with so many restaurants, bars, lounges, and hotels hosting live jazz on a regular (or semi-regular) basis in San Francisco and the surrounding area. Here are some of our favorites to check out:

  • Club Deluxe – Located on historic Haight Street, this intimate space offers amazing music most nights and weekend afternoons.
  • The Jazzschool – This Berkeley-based school is devoted to teaching the art of jazz, and also offers fantastic jazz concerts on a regular basis. It’s a great spot to hear the masters alongside the best up-and-coming musicians!
  • The Sound Room – Located across the bridge in Oakland, the Sound Room is home to Bay Area Jazz and Arts, a non-profit dedicated to fostering music appreciation through intimate performances. The Sound Room is a great place to get up-close and personal with the musicians every Friday and Saturday night.
  • Yoshi’s – With two locations in San Francisco and Oakland, Yoshi’s hosts the best of the genre. You can’t go wrong catching a show here!

This is just a small sample of jazz in San Francisco. No matter what style of jazz you’re into, you’re sure to find it in this amazing city!

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Photo by Lisa Rosario Photography

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