“And All That Jazz: the SFJAZZ Center, San Francisco”
by Al Auger
[Ed. Note: Here’s part of the lead of Al Auger’s story in the February issue of Siliconeer magazine]
“…the storied city of San Francisco was giving nothing away to any of the larger cities East as a stage for all iterations of jazz, blues and boogie woogie. At least once a week, my companion Louise and I would cruise the jazz joints of North Beach, the Fillmore, Chinatown and Bush Street.
“As we sauntered from jazz club to blues club, we would find Dizzy Gillespie at Basin St. West with Art Blakely sitting in on drums, Duke Ellington or Jimmy Witherspoon and Ben Webster at the Cellar, Joe Pass at the Matador or blowing at the Jazz Workshop, John Coltrane or Thelonious Monk, Benny Carter at Keystone Korner. Hidden away in Chinatown was a club straight out of a bete noir movie of the 1940s. Down to the basement, through a curtain of beads and you were in China Smith’s. Greeting you was Helen with a soft hug and peck on the cheek and ushered you into the best, unknown jazz house and smoking quartet in The City.
“In the surprising number of clubs on Bush Street there would be the legendary Louis Armstrong or Earle Hines, Turk Murphy, Bob Scobie Dixieland bands and a number of clubs featuring disparate genres of jazz such as Harry “the Hipster” Gibson. One night in a tiny, dark club across from where Pier 39 now sits, we discovered Wingy Manone wailing away. Not to be outdone, Oakland across the bay offered the longest lasting jazz club in the San Francisco Bay Area, Yoshi’s (now with an additional club in San Francisco). Headliners such as Joe Williams, Bill Evans and a host of world-class artists appeared regularly.”
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