Yoshi’s Jazz Club San Francisco opens with Roy Haynes and the Yoshi’s Birds of a Feather Super Band performers Gary Burton, Ravi Coltrane, Nicholas Payton, Kenny Garrett, David Kikosi and John Patitucci.
Photos by David Toerge
BY PAT MURPHY
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
The Fillmore community itself, oldtimers and new blood, last night hailed opening of Yoshi’s Jazz Club San Francisco as Fillmore restoration.
Drawing national jazz acts to San Francisco once again, the 422-seat beacon opened amidst long memories undead and hurrahs of look what we have done!
Recognition of San Francisco’s Fillmore Street as a jazz world capitol began to wane due to economic hard times followed almost immediately by Redevelopment Agency eminent domain land acquisition creating a diaspora of San Francisco making.
Those who fought for so many decades to retore the Fillmo were first mentioned.
Present day Redevelopment Commissioner London Breed paid homage to the late Mary Helen Rogers, an early Fillmore restoration champion.
Community icon Leroy King, a San Francisco Redevelopment Commissioner since 1980 and commission colleague London Breed both recalled the impact and legacy of the life of Mary Helen Rogers.
“I want to take this opportunity to just make sure that we remember Mary Helen Rogers,” Breed told the crowd.
“Because of her commitment to this community this is possible.
“She worked her entire life fighting for the Western Addition, and one of the things she said to me was, ‘Make sure that Parcel 732A gets completed.
“She was in the hospital when she told me this and I told her, ‘Miss Rogers, I promise I will be there, I will support it,’ and now this is the final frontier.
“So Miss Rogers — I know she’s watching — thank you.”
Commissioner King rememebered Rogers’ advice.
“This is one area she told me that you had to make sure got developed,” King smiled.
“And I think I look at Yoshi tonight and this is one thing I’m proud of.”
Namesake Yoshi Aikiba seen at left with Kaz Kajimura who together opened the original Yoshi’s in North Berkeley with friend Hiroyuki Hori. The original North-Berkeley, 25-seat restaurant quickly became successful and by 1977 the three partners moved to a larger space on Claremont Avenue in Oakland and began introducing live music in their restaurant. Over the next 20 years, Yoshi’s built itself into one of the world’s most respected jazz venues and won a reputation as the Bay Area’s premier location for people who were looking for great food and the best jazz. Yoshi’s has hosted legendary jazz greats such as Betty Carter, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis, McCoy Tyner, Harry Connick Jr. and Oscar Peterson among hundreds of others. Today, Joshi’s Jazz Club San Francisco is a 420-seat venue.
“This area when I first came on (the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency) there was a bunch of land, a municipal garden, and everything else.
“Since then we’ve this thing develop and I want to thank people like Belva Davis that helped us make this thing a success.
“This is one of the proudest evenings for myself and as a Redevelopment Commissioner.”
REVEREND ARNOLD TOWNSEND: WE TOOK CARE OF EACH OTHER
Former Mayor Willie Brown said by video presentation the day marked a dream complete which he held since arriving in San Francisco, even then dress perfection manifest.
A young Willie Lewis Brown, Jr.
Video welcome to Yoshi’s Jazz Club San Francisco
“Welcome to a fulfillment of a dream that I’ve had almost since I first arrived in San Francisco,” San Francisco elder statesman Brown intoned.
“As a young boy, not old enough to go into any of the joints on Fillmore Street until I was 21 — when I was 21 they were gone — but now it’s all back.
“This community has struggled for many years for this day.
“In this day you celebrate, with this community, you celebrate as part of this community, but more importantly to the greater San Francisco.
“Suddenly the culture of African American San Franciscans… the natural African American community of San Francisco — Yoshi’s San Francisco is the Jazz Heritage Museum.
“Welcome, enjoy yourself, and come back often.”
Willie Brown, fake ID or not, did not exaggerate what was happening to the Fillmore in Brown’s youth, said Brown’s mayoral successor.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, center with from left, Yoshi’s owners Yoshi Aikiba and Kaz Kajimura; financier Michael Johnson, and event Emcee Miranda Wilson
“Willie Brown was probably only modestly exaggerating no doubt about his fake ID,” Newsom chuckled at the screen.
“About the fact that he was probably a young child when this mission was first advanced, when people started realizing that we were loosing this proud vestige to our past.
“That the days when we could still lay claim to being the epicenter of jazz in the United States were beginning to wane, the days when we could at least lay claim to being the West Coast Harlem were beginning to wane.
“Those that were hanging on were just barely making ends meet.
“And then we had difficults times with Redevelopment moving into the Fillmore ultimately gentrifying the neighborhood.
“It has been quite a struggle.”
“It has been, as Reverend Townsend would remind us, a long struggle that only can be referenced in the Bible by reminding everybody that God’s delays are not God’s denials.
“We are here in celebration in that effort, in that work.”
“This is a huge place,” continued Newsom, asking continued Yoshi’s patronage.
“This is a huge invesment. This is a tough place to fill seats.
“So it’s really incumbent on us tonight to come back.
“This is too important to too many people — generations lost and generations to come — what this represents is so much bigger than this physical space.
“This is reclaiming that heritage in our proud past but it’s also about creating opportunities for people to have memories that will be fulfilled and generated here.
“It’s part of the narrative of life.”
Yoshi’s Jazz Club San Francisco is located at 1330 Fillmore Street between Eddy and Ellis Streets. Telephone (415) 655-5600.
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past ten years. Pat scribes an offbeat view of the human family through Believe It or What. Email Pat at SanFranciscoSentinel@yahoo.com.
When David Toerge left a career in photojournalism that had spanned over twelve years and started in a new direction of commercial photography he blended the editorial style with a more corporate look. David led the way in that new style garnering many awards for his work. Communications Arts has honored him over six times. Based in San Francisco, David shoots projects on location all over the US for various corporations and a multitude of magazines and always brings back great images. He has a keen sense of light, color, and composition and delivers to his clients assignments done with passion. He has climbed bridges hundreds of feet in the air, shot in caves hundreds of feet below, dived with sharks and driven the track with Indy drivers. He has shot earthquakes and firestorms but loves walking the streets with his camera just photographing the everyday life of his city.
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