2016-17 SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Directors

2016-17 SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Directors

The SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director program was established to give today’s most innovative and influential musicians the chance to curate exclusive programming at the SFJAZZ Center and participate in educational outreach within the community. Every two years, SFJAZZ selects four of the most forward-thinking musicians in jazz to participate in the program. Notable world premieres have included pianist Jason Moran’s pairing of jazz and live skateboarding, guitarist Bill Frisell’s adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved featuring actor Tim Robbins, and drummer Eric Harland’s Voyager band with live video gamers. The Resident Artistic Director program features unprecedented collaborations between world-renowned artists, and continue to jumpstart the boundary-breaking creative mission of the SFJAZZ Center. Past Resident Artistic Directors have included Bill Frisell, John Santos, Miguel Zenón, Regina Carter and John Santos.

Christian McBride

At just 43, four-time GRAMMY winning bassist Christian McBride is widely regarded as the standard-bearer for jazz bassists in the 21st century, and is among the most recorded artists of his generation. Among the more than 300 albums he’s appeared on are sessions by many of the most illustrious figures in jazz, including Sonny Rollins, McCoy Tyner, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson and Pat Metheny, while also collaborating with artists as diverse as Kathleen Battle, Sting and Questlove of The Roots. McBride has been the linchpin of various all-star projects, such as the Five Peace Band with John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett and Vinnie Colaiuta, as well as the 2015 GRAMMY-lauded Chick Corea Trio with drummer Brian Blade. He’s led a procession of diverse groups in the studio and on tour since the mid-90s, most recently his hard-swinging Inside Straight quintet featuring SFJAZZ Collective vibraphonist Warren Wolf, and the Christian McBride Big Band, whose 2011 release The Good Feeling won that year’s GRAMMY for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album. He has also found time to oversee jazz programming at Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl, along with many other projects. As an SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director, McBride brings a kaleidoscopic musical vision and a restless drive for fresh avenues of expression, including nights with his big band and a duo performance with jazz vocal great Dee Dee Bridgewater.


Vijay Iyer

The brilliant and adventurous pianist and composer Vijay Iyer is a musician who stretches the boundaries of jazz, but has long reached beyond jazz's vocabulary. An artist possessed of a relentlessly searching intellect and formidable technique, he was the recipient of the MacArthur Foundation’s “genius grant” in 2013 and the “quadruple crown” in DownBeat’s 2012 Critics Poll in the categories of Jazz Artist of the Year, Group of the Year, Pianist of the Year and Album of the Year. Iyer has collaborated with the most creative figures in modern jazz, including Steve Coleman, Wadada Leo Smith, Oliver Lake, Ambrose Akinmusire, and John Zorn, among others, and is a member of the visionary collective Fieldwork with saxophonist Steve Lehman and drummer Tyshawn Sorey. He has recorded 15 albums since his debut in 1995, including the acclaimed sessions Historicity (2009), Accelerando (2011), and Break Stuff (2014) featuring his telepathic trio of bassist Stephan Crump and drummer Marcus Gilmore. Iyer’s role as an SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director allows him to explore his creativity in various settings, curating evenings devoted to challenging new music and exciting collaboration with artists including avant-garde trumpet icon Wadada Leo Smith, South Indian Carnatic guitarist Prasanna, and trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire.


Rosanne Cash

More than a country music icon, Rosanne Cash is America’s foremost musical woman of letters, a singularly literate artist whose poignant vocals turn every song into a revelatory tale. At the peak of her interpretive powers, her career hit a milestone with the 2009 release of The List, an album distilled from a list of 100 essential country songs given to her at 18 by her father, the legendary Johnny Cash. Cash has landed nearly a dozen #1 country hit singles while earning 13 GRAMMY nominations, culminating in three GRAMMY wins for her latest Blue Note release, The River & The Thread. The album made the “Best of Year” lists in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, Huffington Post, and USA Today. Cash’s creativity isn’t confined to the bandstand. Leading publications such as The New York TimesRolling StoneThe Oxford-American and New York Magazine have published her essays, columns and fiction. She’s also generated an acclaimed volume of short stories, Bodies of Water, and a fascinating memoir, Composed. For her week as an SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director, Cash presents a series of concerts in collaboration with fellow roots music queens Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris – a project she premiered as Artist-in-Residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2015.


Mary Stallings

Each generation, it seems, discovers Mary Stallings anew. A supremely soulful jazz singer, the San Francisco native has appeared alongside jazz greats including Cal Tjader, Dizzy Gillespie and the Count Basie Orchestra over her stellar career. With her supple sense of swing, blues-inflected phrasing, and gift for empathic interpretation, it’s easy to see why The New York Times declared her “perhaps the best jazz singer alive today.”  Following tours with Gillespie, Basie and Billy Eckstine in the late 60s and early 70s, she effectively retired from music to raise her daughter, but made a triumphant return in the 1990s with a series of superb releases accompanied by piano master Gene Harris’ quartet. Since her return to music, she has since made up for lost time, recording a dozen sessions for Concord, MAXJAZZ and High Note, culminating in her latest High Note album, Feelin’ Good, featuring pianist Bruce Barth and an all-star band. Stallings has a long history with SFJAZZ, receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at our 2011 Gala and performing the opening song during the historic Opening Night concert in 2013. For her week as Resident Artistic Director, Stallings presents music from Feelin’ Good, a night to devoted to Brazilian music, and collaborations with Warren Wolf, Cyrus Chestnut, and the SFJAZZ High School All-Stars.