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Where To Find The Hottest Jazz In San Francisco

Fillmore Jazz Festival (credit: Anupma/Steve Restivo Events)

In 2016, the San Francisco Jazz Festival marks its 34th year. Hailed as "the preeminent festival of its kind in the United States" by the LA Times, 10 days in June are dedicated to the great tradition of this city and the legacy of jazz greats that have graced its streets and stages. No one can possibly tag 'the best,' but we can shout out a few among the threads in the rich tapestry that is the San Francisco jazz scene.

Fillmore Jazz Festival 2016
Fillmore St., between Jackson and Eddy
San Francisco, CA
(800) 310-6563
Date: July 2 and 3, 2016

The largest free jazz festival on the West Coast draws over 100,000 visitors during the Independence Day weekend. The 32nd annual festival is July 2-3, 2016 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., rain or shine, with live entertainment all day on three outdoor stages. The fabulous artist lineup represents not only outstanding talent, but also wonderful community spirit. Whoever contributes through free performances on these stages is simply the best. Stay tuned to the website for details.

SFJAZZ Collective
201 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(866) 920-5299

The SFJazz Collective presents newly commissioned works each spring in addition to works by its tribute composers, the likes of Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Stevie Wonder and Chick Corea. Following a 2014 performance at the 60th Anniversary Newport Jazz Festival and a 10-year celebratory disc, the Collective's current eight-artist lineup of alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, tenor saxophonist David Sánchez, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, trombonist Robin Eubanks, pianist Edward Simon, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Obed Calvaire is considered by SFJAZZ as "one of the most exciting and acclaimed groups on the American and international jazz scenes." For 2016, The SFJazz Collective will perform new arrangements from the late, great Michael Jackson.

SFJAZZ High School All-Stars Orchestra
201 Franklin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(866) 920-5299

What a privilege it is to hear the best of the best, a group of 30 to 35 teens who are making jazz the center of their young lives. They practice, they compete, they play, they improvise, they support their peers, they win prizes and they plan to go professional. Members of the All-Stars' combo and big band compose, arrange, record and are being given "the most heightened and enriching experience musically that they could possibly bring them up to another level," says Paul Contos, High School All-Stars Director.

Old Skool Café
1429 Mendell St.
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 822-8531

The call to action, "Come visit us!," is hard to ignore when it comes from the heart of this Bayview 1940s-styled youth-run supper and speakeasy-style entertainment club. The surprise? Its founder, Teresa Goines, is a former correctional officer and a CNN Hero. With a mission "to provide marketable employment skills in the restaurant industry to youth – specifically focusing on the at-risk and previously incarcerated population," these young people are performing in the kitchen and in front of the mic as paid youth apprentices. Come for dinner or make this your venue for an event, formal dinner, corporate meeting, launch party or reception. Jazz never felt so good.

Presidio Sessions
Presidio Officers' Club
50 Moraga Ave., Presidio Main Post
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 561-4400

The recently renovated Officers' Club is dubbed San Francisco's living room, presenting free Friday night musical events for the public -- jazz among them. Fabulous performances have come from the likes of Tiffany Austin, Sheldon Brown Group and the Turtle Island Quartet. Keep an eye on the website calendar for more top name jazz performances.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she's writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on

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