SF Offside is the creation of local jazz guitarist Alex Pinto and Laura Maguire, formerly curator of music activities at Viracocha, one of the more intriguing San Francisco venues for encountering experimental and improvisatory approaches to the performance of music. Its mission, as described on its Web site, is “to draw attention to the incredible creativity to be found right here in our own backyard, and to build larger audiences for specifically local jazz offerings.” To that end last May, SF Offside inaugurated the San Francisco Offside Festival, offering three days of concerts in three different San Francisco venues (including Viracocha). Press response was positive and encouraging at both local and national levels.
Next month, in preparation for the next Festival, which will take place this coming Memorial Day weekend, SF Offside will present The Spark Series of three preview events, two of which will take place in San Francisco. The specifics for the San Francisco gigs are as follows:
- Thursday, March 7, 8–10 p.m.: This will be a two-set concert. The opening performance will be by the Markstep Trio, led by Marcus Stephens on saxophones and electronics. The other members are Eric Garland on drums and Colin Hogan on keyboards (sometimes playing two at the same time). Garland will return to lead his Hodge Podge Ensemble in the second set. This is a diverse ensemble performing Garland’s compositions for flute (Sheldon Brown), clarinets (Sheldon Brown), violin (Dina Maccabee), accordion (Colin Hogan), bass (George Ban-Weiss), and drums.
- Friday, March 15, 9–11 p.m.: This will be a performance of Aram Shelton’s Kodachrome Music suite. This was inspired by a visit to the visually stunning geological formation in southern Utah known as Kodachrome Basin. Shelton will perform on alto saxophone and bass clarinet. He will be joined by the other members of his Golden Age quartet: Mark Clifford on vibraphone, Matthew Golombisky on bass, and Jordan Glenn on drums.
The March 7 concert will take place at the Red Poppy Art House in the Mission at 2698 Folsom Street. Admission will be on a sliding scale between $10 and $20. The March 15 performance will be at the Café Royal in the Tenderknob at 800 Post Street. Admission will be free.