In the city of San Francisco the SFJAZZ Center is a remarkable place to go for a performance. The place is pretty new, opening some 3 1/2 years ago. The building can put on large and small shows (at the same time). The Joe Henderson Lab seats up to 100. Upstairs, the state-of-the-art Miner Auditorium is almost 10 times bigger and can seat up to 700-some. The building is downtown at Franklin & Fell, just 4-5 blocks behind the War Memorial Opera House.
The Joe Henderson Lab is small enough to get away with no sound amplification. This lets you go directly mano-a-mano with the performers, that is, acoustically. In this era of all-to-many occasions of sound boards that amped up the instruments and had them playing over the vocalists, this room gives a much better chance for a balanced performance. Furthermore, if the amps are out of the way (or only minimally on), the true quality of the instruments and singer come through. The show last Tuesday was singer-trumpeter Bria Skonberg with a trio accompaniment. (See our review here.) The sound balance was delightful; no one played over anyone else. The performers and the sound quality were great.