The inaugural SF Offside Festival was a brilliant cross section of the Bay Area’s thriving jazz scene. Envisioned by co-founders Alex Pinto and Laura Maguire as the missing outlet for local jazz musicians—most festivals feature out-of-town acts and skip over the world-class musicians available in the area—the festival represented many overlooked colors of the jazz spectrum that thrive in the Bay. The event spanned over three nights between May 24 and May 26, taking festival goers to two Mission District venues and one in downtown San Francisco. Ranging from avant-garde to classic jazz, the groups exhibited one similarity: the remarkable ability to play together as a single sophisticated unit, despite the music’s improvisatory nature. They navigated changes in tempo and feel, built dynamics and structural architecture, and created masterfully polished performances—while maintaining and celebrating the varying levels of musical freedom afforded in jazz.Learn
This incredibly rich sampling of musicians and diverse array of groups pay tribute to the Bay Area’s jazz scene. This year’s Offside Festival could not have been more successful in demonstrating the vibrancy of the community, drawing a healthy crowd each night to witness the depth of jazz that is often overlooked in favor of the often more commercial international stars or generic dinner and lounge music. One can only hope that as the festival grows, so will awareness of this music, local to the Bay Area and well deserving of a wider audience and appreciation.
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