Partner spotlight: Jazz in the Neighborhood

CMC is proud to partner with Jazz in the Neighborhood to host Jazz in the Neighborhood Concerts.  We invite you to learn more about their great work!


Article by Jazz in the Neighborhood staff writer

Jazz in the Neighborhood has been making its presence known all across the Bay Area. It’s been part of Community Music Center’s neighborhood in the Mission since 2015. They have brought performances to CMC’s Concert Hall that include Jon Jang and Francis Wong, Montclair Women’s Big Band, the Alison Miller Trio, and TrumpetSuperGroup. Audiences have found that it’s a great place to enjoy top Bay Area jazz musicians in a comfortable, great-sounding environment, and at affordable prices.

Founded in 2013, Jazz in the Neighborhood is a nonprofit that works to improve the economics of jazz performance in the Bay Area by presenting affordable concerts, paying musicians a guaranteed wage, and supporting the work of established and aspiring jazz artists.

The idea was born when Mario Guarneri, a trumpet player at home in both the classical and jazz idioms, set up a casual gig in a bookstore near his home in Fairfax. Having played professionally for decades, Mario felt that putting out a tip jar seemed demeaning, so he paid the band out of his own pocket. Within a few years, he decided to expand the concept so that other jazz ensembles could be paid up front, too. Joined by Jon Herbst, who is a composer, audio engineer, and jazz pianist, they formed Jazz in the Neighborhood to support the profession of being a jazz musician. It works on the model of public radio, where members and other donors contribute to help fund the production of live jazz events that are affordable for audiences, but at the same time, pay musicians a fair wage.

Since its inception, Jazz in the Neighborhood has presented over 200 jazz concerts at neighborhood venues from Santa Rosa to San Jose. Many of these events have been free, and no one is ever turned away for lack of funds. The work has been supported by grants from the Zellerbach Foundation, San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music, and the Music Performance Trust Fund, as well as through generous donations by individuals and corporate sponsors. There are over 350 Jazz in the Neighborhood members. For information about becoming a member visit


Guaranteed Fair Wage Fund

The most recent Jazz in the Neighborhood initiative is its Guaranteed Fair Wage Fund, which has been created to encourage venues to pay musicians a minimum guaranteed amount, regardless of ticket sales. When event revenue doesn’t cover the cost of the guaranteed compensation, Jazz in the Neighborhood can step in to help make up the difference. The inaugural event took place last month at Bird & Beckett Books and Records. Said store-owner Eric Whittington, “The trick is to provide our musicians with good venues and appreciative, informed audiences so that being a professional jazz player in San Francisco is a viable way to make a living. The bookstore’s music series is our way way of offering support to the musicians, ensuring that the cultural legacy they safeguard isn’t squandered and lost.” The California Jazz Conservatory has joined as a participating venue, too.

The economics of paying musicians a decent wage can be daunting. Through fundraising, Jazz in the Neighborhood is working to make the Guaranteed Fair Wage Fund sustainable with the ultimate goal of raising standards for all musicians. With limited funds, however, the focus is on supporting groups in a way that emphasizes the diversity of jazz performance across the Bay Area. For more information about the program, visit


Emerging Artists Program

In addition to supporting professional musicians, Jazz in the Neighborhood works to build the bridge between classroom and stage by giving pre-professional musicians an opportunity to play with the pros. It’s called the Emerging Artists program, and since 2013, over 100 aspiring jazz students have taken part in the time-honored tradition of “learning on the bandstand.” Starting with the 2017-18 season, musicians are selected through an open competition process, and those working towards a dedicated career in jazz are encouraged to apply. In addition to coaching and performance experience, Emerging Artists receive on-going mentorship to help advance their careers. Serving as the Emerging Artist coordinator is trumpeter and educator Erik Jekabson.

Emerging Artists who have been selected for 2017/18 include William Berg, sax; Dante Billeci, sax; Isaac Coyle, bass; Shana Dinha, vocals; Tyler Harlow, bass; Justis Jones, vibes; Gio Mendez, sax; Dan Neville, vibes; Zack Shubert, piano; and Kate Williams, trumpet.


Jazz in the Neighborhood Concerts at CMC

As Jazz in the Neighborhood presents its concerts at Community Music Center, each musician will receive $150 up front regardless of ticket sales. Please come support the musicians and the organization and to hear some great music. There will be six concerts in the winter/spring series, all on Fridays at 8pm. For tickets, go to

Jan 19 — Ben Goldberg School
Feb 16 — Power of Five: Ian Faquini – Erika Oba – Dillon Vado
Mar 16 — Jeff Denson Quartet
Apr 20 — Montclair Women’s Big Band
May 18 — Edward Simon Trio
Jun 15 — Cabanijazz Project

For more information, email or leave a message at 415-737-JITN (5486)