The Fillmore District plays a legendary, controversial, and ongoing part in the history of San Francisco. When Japanese residents were sent to internment camps during World War II, lots of African-Americans moved in. Nightclubs popped up, hosting jazz and blues giants of the era: Fitzgerald, Ellington, Holiday the list is long. The Fillmore Jazz Festival launched in 1985, about a decade into plans for urban renewal, which remain hotly debated and widely decried. A neighborhood identity centered on live music, though, marches on. The festival is the largest of its kind (free, jazzy) on the West Coast, dominating eight city blocks for two days of superb performances. Talent on tap this year includes rock-solid vocalist and international star Kim Nalley, whose stunning style never fails to provoke tongue-tied comparisons. (From one Italian publication: She is like Jessica Rabbit and Louis Armstrong at the same time.) Also: Kenyan funk artist Sila with his Afrofunk Experience in tow (latest album: Black President, inspired by the historic you-know-what of you-know-who), and the Marcus Shelby Orchestra, an outfit led by a 23-year veteran of the acoustic bass. Come, even if only to see why Kim Nalley was compared to a sexy cartoon.
July 4-5, 10 a.m., 2009