Sunday, July 2, 2023

All that Jazz and More --- Day 12/187

Walk: Fillmore Jazz Festival

Distance: 2.5 miles

Annual Fillmore Jazz Festival: Sounds of the City

So, this is what Ciwt's little neighborhood looked like today and every first weekend of July during the Fillmore Jazz Festival.  It's the largest free Jazz festival on the West Coast, drawing over 100,000 vistors.  Ciwt's photo captures the present very organized version of a festival that began as a virtual free for all with people imbibing any variety of booze and drugs and scaring audience members and shoppers.  Many stores simply closed their doors for the two day event. Trash was everywhere when it was over.  Neighbors hated it.

But over the years and to their credit the producers have worked with neighbors, and fine tuned the logistics so that the musical spirit and multiple stages fill the streets while there are designated listening, shopping, eating and even drinking areas - and there isn't a hint of trash the next day.   It's really professional, rich, joyful with top class talent that blends art and soul in one the the country's most unique neighborhoods.  This said by Ciwt who is normally not a street fair fan.

Jazz is authentic to the Fillmore, and the Festival has a rich and colorful history. Against the backdrop of World War II, dozens of Fillmore Street Jazz clubs hosted the era’s major musical talents, including Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Billie Holliday. Stars such as Joe Louis, Marilyn Monroe, Clint Eastwood and Sammy Davis, Jr. were in the audiences. At the legendary Jimbo’s, Louis Armstrong went to check out Charlie Parker (the only known time they were under the same roof). Chet Baker snuck out of the Fort Mason barracks to jam all night, and John Handy played Bop City with John Coltrane.

In the 60’s, Jazz historian David Rosenbaum ran the Melrose Record shop on Fillmore Street, employing high school student Maya Angelou. Zen Buddhism was first introduced to the West in the Fillmore, which became a creative home to artists including Isaac Stern, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Mel Blanc and Alan Ginsberg.

In the 1980’s, a renaissance gave rise to the next generation of the Fillmore District. Merchant associations helped launch the first Fillmore Jazz Festival in 1986, giving new expression to the storied neighborhood. In 1999, the festival came home to the newly revitalized Jazz Preservation District.

Those in the know would be interested to hear performers who have graced San Francisco Fillmore Street stages include Dr. Lonnie Smith, Denise Perrier, Lady Memphis, Kim Nalley, Pete Escovedo, Jules Broussard, Big Belly Blues Band, Brenda Boykin and Paula West.

If you're around next July, come on down to the Fillmore.  Maybe you'll run into Ciwt.

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