ADAM THEIS: The Bay Area's renegade bandleader & scene inventor / by Adam Theis

Trombonist, people connector, entrepreneur and scene inventor: Adam Theis is all those things. A one-man Bay Area music industry for 20 years, he is founder of the loose-knit collective known as the Jazz Mafia – dozens of musicians participating in the umpteen bands that have sprouted from Theis’s renegade brain. Lately, he’s been jumping on his skateboard while practicing his trombone, improvising off the rhythms of the board’s wheels as he rolls up and down a ramp in downtown Oakland: “Something will be developing out of that,” he says. “Maybe a band, maybe a song.”

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As an organization governed by a radically embracing ethos, the Jazz Mafia is the antithesis of a criminal enterprise. A trombonist, bassist, arranger, composer and inveterate band-builder, Theis seeks to welcome all comers stylistically and demographically, while the band makes the most of whatever it has to offer. It’s a conspiracy of generosity.
— Richard Scheinin