SFJAZZ Announces Terence Blanchard as Executive Artistic Director

A photo of Terence Blanchard.

SFJAZZ has selected Terence Blanchard as Executive Artistic Director, following an executive search process led by Arts Consulting Group (ACG). He began his tenure in June 2023.

Seven-time Grammy winner and two-time Academy Award nominee, Blanchard will lead SFJAZZ’s artistic programming and guide its creative direction. Blanchard and SFJAZZ have shared a longstanding history of partnership. From 2014 to 2016, Blanchard served as a SFJAZZ Resident Artistic Director. In 2022, Blanchard’s E-collective joined forces with the esteemed Turtle Island String Quartet for a captivating performance at the SFJAZZ Center.

Distinguished as a renowned composer, bandleader, and trumpet player, Blanchard possesses an expansive creative and musical repertoire. His outstanding achievements span across composing for films directed by Spike Lee, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and other acclaimed directors, and for operas performed at the New York Metropolitan Opera. He stands tall as one of jazz’s most-esteemed artists known for his provocative and inspiring jazz recordings, including Absence, a lush and dramatic soundscape in collaboration with E-Collective and Turtle Island String Quartet.

A recipient of a 2018 USA Artist Fellowship and a 2023 Peabody Medal, Blanchard has been a cultural force in centering and giving voice to socio-cultural issues and racial injustices. Across these powerful musical statements, Blanchard is also a passionate educator having held faculty positions at the Berklee College of Music, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz (previously known as the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz), and the University of California, Los Angeles.

In making the announcement, SFJAZZ Board Chair Denise Young said, “We could not be more thrilled to have Terence leading and inspiring SFJAZZ in the fulfillment of a vision started 40 years ago. Terence's expansive impact upon so many areas and genres was a perfect match for the vision we have at SFJAZZ. He perfectly understands and embodies our desire to further enrich audience experiences, expand artist opportunities, and amplify the voices of this special music to powerfully and positively transform the future."

Greg Stern, SFJAZZ CEO noted, “Terence Blanchard is an extraordinary artist whose experience and accomplishments make him an ideal creative leader for SFJAZZ, building on the incredible legacy that Randall Kline has worked to create over the past forty years.”

“I am honored and excited to become a part of such an amazing and historic institution,” said Blanchard. “SFJAZZ has meant so much to the development of America’s Greatest artform. I am looking forward to collaborating with the staff while also bringing my own ideas about how to move our music forward and continue the SFJAZZ mission to explore the full spectrum of jazz—from its origins to its diverse and evolving expressions around the world today. I cannot wait to continue this journey.”

“We are incredibly grateful to have collaborated with the board, staff, and artists of the SFJAZZ in welcoming Terence to the organization,” said ACG Vice President Geoff Chang. “Terence is an iconic and hugely respected music leader with an unparalleled knowledge of and passion for the artform. We are thrilled to see his innovative and profound vision, and commitment to arts education, mobilize and elevate the communities of SFJAZZ.”

June 2023

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