Autumn approaches, bringing the nation's best outdoor jazz festival and much else. There's the start of the third action-packed season at the SFJazz Center, truly a house of jazz -- the nation's only freestanding concert complex built specifically for jazz. And clubs once again will be filled with music.

  • Monterey Jazz Festival: It happens Sept. 19-21 at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. The opening show in the Arena offers a wide-angle shot of today's jazz scene: pianist Herbie Hancock, 74, still breathtaking to hear; the superb singer Cecile McLorin Salvant, who is 24 and taps into a heavy lineage (Bessie Smith, Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln); plus a meeting of two keyboardists who think out of the box, Robert Glasper and Jason Moran, each in his 30s.

    The Roots are among the other headliners, as is blues-rocker Gary Clark Jr. But go for the jazz. This year's festival includes a clutch of real-deal pianists: Harold Mabern, Donald Brown, Gerald Clayton, Billy Childs (with a tribute to Laura Nyro), Ellis Marsalis, Geoffrey Keezer, Aaron Diehl and Jon Batiste. Legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd is this year's Showcase Artist, leading three exciting bands. Bassist Christian McBride will join a "Philadelphia Experiment" group with ?uestlove, Uri Caine and Booker T. Jones. Expect wall-to-wall music through the weekend. Details: Three-day passes run $290-$335 for Arena shows or $125 for the many shows out on the fairgrounds, $50 for ages 3-18. Tickets: 888-248-6499,