June 18, 2014
The San Francisco Jazz Festival is in session (until Sunday), and we went over to the SFJAZZ Center on Monday night to hear the Wayne Wallace Latin Jazz Quintet. The Joe Henderson Lab, a gathering space on the ground floor in the northeastern corner of the building, was packed, and as people walked down Franklin Street on the way to a performance that began in the main theater a half hour later, you could see them peering through the windows and smiling as they saw all those heads bobbing in time to the music.
So the tunes were sublime, the atmosphere was relaxed, and the whole thing, in addition to being an art pleasure, answered a question I’ve heard posed around here: Former Symphony board President John Goldmanhas spoken in public about the need for providing alternative forms for concerts, which, in traditional form, make demands - money, time, attire, parking - on listeners. And theatrical producer Carole Shorenstein Hays has participated in Stanford University projects exploring the creation of new performance forms.
It seems that SFJAZZ has figured out a solution: The hour-long show was in the Henderson Lab, which was full. This is a good feeling for concertgoer and for performer. It feels intimate, it feels relaxed. Audience members feel a direct connection to the performer, a few feet away; performers feel support and approval.
The show cost $20, and it lasted for an hour. Afterward, listeners could stay at the center and have a post-show meal, or perhaps - if they’ve spent a long day at work - go home, chill and savor the musical treat they’d just been offered.
Cheers and applause came at the end of Wallace’s show, deservedly so. But I’m adding more here for SFJAZZ, for an innovation tailored perfectly for modern music lovers.