Jazz at Intersection


Intersection for the Arts is an incomparable venue for capturing the beauty, and creativity of Jazz in an intimate setting. Jazz at the Intersection was introduced in 1999 as a monthly series committed to cultivating and presenting San Francisco Bay Area Jazz composers and musicians in an immediate, intimate concert-style setting.

Our intention was to create a place where Jazz is the priority, where we promote dialogue about the art form, where we explore the Jazz language with our community, and where emerging and experienced composers are encouraged to experiment with new forms.

Jazz, like other musical forms, exists in an ever changing, ever evolving continuum and our goal is to get audiences to experience the degrees of musical evolution that have been established.

Jazz at Intersection strives to present the diversity of styles, cadences and rhythms that constitute a contemporary definition of Jazz. From a 5-piece Latin jazz ensemble, to a 15-piece Jazz orchestra, to an avant-garde saxophone quartet, to an Asian percussion led 7-piece Jazz ensemble – from post-bop to opera Jazz hybrids, to combinations of Asian and African American musical traditions, to explorations of compositions without percussion – we consistently showcase work that pushes expectations.

To date, we have produced and presented over 100 performances featuring more than 300 musicians. Unlike club settings, our unique performance series nurtures ongoing relationships with local musicans and audience members and prioritizes the musical experience in intimate, concert-style presentations of the music. The goal is to provide local Jazz artists and audiences with consistent, ongoing, and easily accessible opportunities to celebrate the diverse and powerful Jazz traditions that are unique to the Bay Area, while encouraging experimentation and creativity.

In working with Marcus Shelby as Intersection’s Resident Composer from 2000 to 2004, we were able to gain valuable national exposure through New York-based Meet The Composer’s New Residencies program (Round VIII, 2001-2004). This residency enabled Shelby to work intimately and consistently with our community through new compositions, workshops, and youth engagement activities. We also received a 2000 Creative Work Fund grant with Shelby, allowing for the creation of an original, musical adaptation of Howard Korder’s The Lights that played to sold-out audiences at ODC Theatre in January 2002. In 2006, we inaugurated new Composer Residencies, a new fee structure for perfomers, and a commissioning component so that we could continue to foster opportunities for a struggling artistic community. We also proudly launched an extremely successful collaboration with the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park to bring our Jazz At Intersection series outdoors, exposing the program to hundreds of new audience members. We are continuing the collaboration this Fall 2010 with a number of Jazz At Intersection performances at the de Young Museum. And most recently, we were awarded A Meet the Composer Commissioning Music/USA commission to work with our current Resident Composer Howard Wiley on an evening-length suite of twelve new compositions entitled “Twelve Gates to the City,” which takes raw musical forms such as Negro spirituals, blues, field shouts, and gospel as both conceptual and inspirational foundation, this new suite will combine trained, refined musical tones with coarse, raw musical textures in a 10-piece Jazz ensemble.

Intersection offers a unique support system for composers and musicians on many levels. Our approach to presenting Jazz is based on an intimate and direct connection between the musician, the music, and the audience. We aim to nurture an audience not only for specific artists or traditions, but for a broad and inclusive definition of the Jazz idiom. We are also able to provide unique and organic opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchange and collaboration as evidenced by the fact that many of the Jazz musicians we work with have also composed original scores for theatre and dance productions, among other things.

As the late venerable jazz critic Phil Elwood has stated, “Intersection is a perfect place for new music as well as other artistic expression. The feeling of community, togetherness, surrounds the place even before the music starts, and increases, of course, when it gets going.” Elwood also notes that “at Intersection, the ambience is unequalled – the whole place is part of the performance.” Jazz At Intersection simultaneously embraces and expands upon a century of musical invention.

Photo credit of Scott Amendola & Wil Blades above – Scott Chernis

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