New jazz center opens in Hayes Valley


The SFJAZZ Center, located at 201 Franklin St. in the city's Hayes Valley neighborhood, opened its doors today to a brass band playing the tune "When the Saints Go Marching In" while members of the public went on tours of the new building.

The three-story complex features a 700-seat auditorium as well as educational and administrative space.

"It's a building that celebrates every voice," said Randall Kline, who founded SFJAZZ in 1983, initially as a weekend festival called "Jazz in the City."

Felice Swapp, the executive operating director of SFJAZZ, called jazz "America's classical music" and said the new center will allow the organization to "nurture new talents, nurture new loves."

One such talent is Laila Smith, an 18-year-old who was a member of the SFJAZZ High School All Stars.

"Jazz is not about doing things right, it's about passion," Smith said. "It's about heart and soul and telling a story."

A sold-out opening night concert, scheduled for Wednesday, will be hosted by Bill Cosby and feature performances by McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Esperanza Spalding and others.

More information about the new building and other upcoming shows can be found online at

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