The Bay Area is no stranger to audacious endeavors that fly in the face of common sense. But even in a region where an idea can take flight and transform an entire segment of the economy, trombonist, bassist, arranger, composer, and Jazz Mafia collective founder Adam Theis had little reason to hope that an ambitious jazz/classical/hip-hop mashup would have wings.
It’s not just that creating and presenting 2009’s audacious Brass, Bows & Beats, a suite for a 50-piece ensemble, required overcoming Sisyphean logistical and financial hurdles. Theis had an expansive network of musicians to draw on, but with the economy still on the ropes after the pummeling of the Great Recession, he could have easily faced a serious Jazz Mafia beatdown. In his corner there were major grants from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode and Hewlett Foundations, and a partnership with SFJAZZ.