Recession, what recession? While arts organizations across the country are shutting down, downsizing and struggling simply to stay afloat, SFJAZZ announced on Thursday that it was building an unprecedented stand-alone complex, the first in the nation dedicated exclusively to presenting jazz. With half of the $60 million budget already locked up, including a $20 million anonymous donation, the non-profit organization that produces the fall San Francisco Jazz Festival and expansive Spring Season concert series has further elevated itself as one of the world’s leading jazz presenters.
Two days after the center announcement, which had been rumored for months, SFJAZZ threw itself a lavish party at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Billed as a tribute to vibraphone great Bobby Hutcherson, who has played an essential role in the organization since its early years when it was known as Jazz In the City, the annual gala highlighted the way SFJAZZ has marshaled support from the city’s cultural establishment. Luminaries in literature (Amy Tan, Tobias Wolf, Daniel “Lemony Snicket” Handler), politics (Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom), sports (Orlando Cepeda, Ronnie Lott) and of course music filled the hall.