Jazz In San FranciscoHistory and Where to Hear it
San Francisco has a long history with jazz music. Learn about our history and where to find it now, from festivals to clubs and bars.
Much as the 1960s flower children fueled the San Francisco sound of rock and roll, the tens of thousands of African Americans who came to the Bay Area in the 1940s to work in military shipyards amplified the audience for jazz and blues in all their forms. Clubs opened on Fillmore Street, where Jimbo's famous after-hours Bop City tea room, among other spots, flourished through the 1950s. No less a legend than Etta James herself got her first big break here, singing with bandleader Johnny Otis.
Much has been written about the historic jazz clubs from the 1950s and 60s — Jazz Workshop, The Blackhawk, Basin Street West, Todd Barkan’s Keystone Korner—and the classic jazz albums recorded in the city, including Thelonious Monk’s 1959 album Alone in San Francisco, the 1961 Miles Davis album In Person Friday and Saturday Nights at the Blackhawk, Complete, and Duke Ellington’s Concert of Sacred Music at Grace Cathedral from 1965.
San Francisco always honors its jazz and blues history while listening for what will push the music forward. The city also continues to celebrate jazz and blues as an art form that is best experienced live and in the moment.