I first saw Alex Pinto perform with his trio towards the end of 2010 at a little place in the Mission, sadly now gone, called Kaleidoscope. It was clear right away that he was a unique musical talent. The following April, I went to the Revolution Cafe for his CD release party. I had just gotten back from my second stint in Thailand, so I hadn’t seen his trio in the intervening period, but I had been plugging his shows on my Facebook music page, Live ‘n’ Local SF, which, like a woman obsessed, I maintained even while living in Thailand.
That night at the Revolution, I thought about introducing myself, but the place was packed, so I left it for another time. I did, though, write something about the show in Fenderhardt, my blog. Looking back now, it’s funny to read those words again, written almost two years ago.
“Pinto is an accomplished young jazz guitarist who blends Hindustani classical music with contemporary jazz and indie rock. In addition to his original jazz compositions, he also does a number of very sweet interpretations of some Radiohead songs. He just released his debut album, Inner State. Definitely one to watch out for!”
Guitarist Roger Kim is a fresh voice on the Bay Area jazz scene. A recent graduate of UC Berkeley, where he studied Music with Myra Melford and Brian Pardo, Kim’s trio, First Day, is his first venture as a bandleader. Kim is a modern jazz composer whose style ranges from the quiet and contemplative to more swinging, upbeat tunes. As he says, he writes emotionally expressive music that likes to “ask questions, take journeys, and describe sentiments.”
Photo by Liz Duran
We met Roger last year at our inaugural event in May after he wrote an enthusiastic preview on his blog of the three-night festival. After reading that, it was no surprise to see him there every night, taking lots of fantastic photos (many of which you can see here). Some time later, when I was still programming music at Viracocha, I invited Kim’s First Day to open for Lisa Mezzacappa’s Bait and Switch. Since then his trio has been playing regularly at various spots around town, so it’s a pleasure for Offside to present him (along with the Alex Pinto Trio) in this, the last show of our Spark Series.
We stole a few moments with Roger to ask him some questions about First Day and his upcoming Offside show.
I met Sonny Sharrock at Eric Moffat’s place in the Mission in 2010. Eric and I were mixing my album and laying on the floor among piles of records, books, tapes, and CDs was a pretty simple looking jewel case titled Ask The Ages.
“That is the last great jazz album,” Eric quickly told me, as I opened up the CD and took at look at the personnel and track listing. Elvin Jones, Pharaoh Sanders, and Charnett Moffett playing with this guy I had never heard of. We stopped what we were doing, as Eric had to right this wrong.
“Get ready to hear an 18 wheeler screeching down the highway,” Eric said as he put on “Promises Kept,” track one of Ask The Ages.
Reed master Aram Shelton is one of the most prolific avant-jazz composers in the Bay Area, and is bandleader to numerous ensembles, including Marches, Ton Trio, Stratic, and These Are Our Hours, a quintet Shelton put together especially for our inaugural festival last year. He also curates and organizes the Active Music Series, Oakland’s monthly showcase of creative jazz, noise, improv, and more at the Uptown.
Photo by Peter Gannushkin / DOWNTOWNMUSIC.NET
Influenced by the free jazz movement, Shelton’s compositions are complex and intricate, with generous sections devoted to improvisations that highlight the strengths and talents of his bandmates. For our Spark Series, Shelton has put together another brand new ensemble, a quartet he’s calling Golden Age. In addition to some new material, Shelton’s Golden Age will also be revisiting an older composition, the Kodachrome Music suite, which he wrote a few years ago after a camping trip to the Kodachrome Basin in southern Utah, a place Shelton describes as “sparse, unpopulated, and beautiful.”
We talked with Aram about his music and the brand new quartet he’s put together for SF Offside.
At home on tenor saxophone while blowing through jazz standards, or creating genre-bending works with the Bay Area’s leading DJs and producers, Marcus Stephens defies genre or category. Equipped with a full sound, fluid lines, and a stompbox of pedals that would make even Nels Cline blush, Stephens returns to SF Offside for the first installment in our Spark Series.
Last time we met this versatile player, it was with Secret Sidewalk, an electro-acoustic quintet that mixes sampling and synths with drums and saxophone. This time round, we’re presenting Stephens as a bandleader in a group with a very different sound. Loosely based on the classic organ trios of the 50s and 60s, the Markstep Trio, featuring Eric Garland on drums and Colin Hogan on keyboards, is not your typical jazz trio, traversing multiple musical landscapes, including jazz, rock, soul, funk, and hip hop. These three seasoned collaborators bring a certain versatility and vibrancy to their playing together that is sure to delight.
We caught up with Marcus to ask him a few questions about his music and his upcoming Spark Series show at the Red Poppy. Continue reading