Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra
Modern Big Band at its Best
In addition to performing arrangements of the great big band composers Ellington and Basie Marcus and the group will perform some of their original music from the new CD released in May 2008, Harriet Tubman with Vocalists Faye Carol, Kenny Washington, Joseph Mace and Jeannine Anderson
“Jazz can't help but be informed by history. But for all too many players, that means mastering licks originated by Charlie Parker, recycling cool harmonies birthed by Miles Davis or emulating impassioned sheets of sound played by John Coltrane. Marcus Shelby knows the difference between repeating history and studying it, illuminating it and connecting it to the present in ways that could well affect the social and political future.” — Derk Richardson, San Francisco Chronicle 10/07
Harriet Tubman is an original oratorio for jazz orchestra and vocal ensemble chronicling the life one of America’s greatest heroes. Once again working with his remarkable 15-piece jazz orchestra, MSJO, composer and librettist Marcus Shelby adapted historian Kate Clifford Larson’s book Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land (2004) to create a deeply inspired tribute to Ms. Tubman. In addition to the MSJO, the work features the dynamic vocalist Faye Carol in the role of Harriet Tubman. Joining Ms. Carol on vocals are Bay Area favorites Kenny Washington, Jeannine Anderson and Joseph Mace. In the tradition of the great jazz oratorios, such as Ellington’s Black Brown and Beige, Marcus Shelby explores American history using the great narrative of African American music. The double CD will be released nationally on Noir Records on May 20, 2008.
Harriet Tubman is one of America’s greatest, yet least understood, heroes. Called the “Moses of Her People,” Tubman is most often recognized for her work as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad. But, her significant contributions hardly stop there. Tubman also worked as a scout, nurse and spy for the Union in the Civil War and was a pioneer in advocating for the civil rights of women and the elderly. In all of her work, music was Tubman’s constant companion — she even used music to communicate coded messages to escaping slaves! Shelby notes that he “tried to organize this composition to reflect the sources of the language of jazz — field cries, blues hollers, work songs, spirituals, scat singing — and to portray this music’s profound relationship to Harriet Tubman’s heroic story.”
Bassist Marcus Shelby is often called a "Renaissance Musician," earning well-deserved acclaim as a bandleader, bassist, composer and arranger. The Marcus Shelby Orchestra performs a dynamic repertoire of original tunes and the works of great jazz composers including Ellington, Basie, Strayhorn and Gershwin. As important, Shelby's original compositions, while resonant of the classic composers he reveres, are uniformly timely, invigorating and thought-provoking.
The Marcus Shelby Orchestra's show include performances of classic Basie and Ellington, and selections from Shelby's majestic, affecting "Port Chicago Suite," a piece written in commemoration of the African American sailors who died in a World War II-era explosion at a Northern California armaments loading dock.
In addition to leading one of the most dynamic big bands in Northern California, if not the whole U.S., Marcus Shelby has become one of the country's foremost modern Ellington interpreter. Not that Ellington needs any help, even at this late date, but Shelby's arrangements of Ellington classic suites never fail to bring rewarding, fresh perspectives to these great works, while retaining respect--or perhaps reverence would be a better word--for the original.
But it's Shelby's original scores that truly set him apart as a force in modern big band music. With a long list of successful large ensemble compositions, including myriad collaborations for dance and theater, Shelby recently released the stunning "Port Chicago Suite" to great acclaim. The composition musically recreates the hopes of young African Americans as they join the armed forces to serve their country during World War II, takes us through the devastating fatal explosion that cost hundreds of lives and relives for us the court martial of the surviving sailors who refused to return to work until the horrifying conditions that had caused the blast were improved. That Shelby manages to accomplish all this with pathos, humor and engrossing musicality, while making the whole thing swing, is a true testimony to the powers of his gift.
In addition to "Harriet Tubman," The Marcus Shelby Orchestra will be performing selections from the "Port Chicago Suite," Ellingtonia from the 30s through the 50s (what Shelby refers to as the "Blanton/Webster years") and Basie material from the 50s, with additional surprises in store.
Artist or Label Web Site: http://www.marcusshelby.com
Official Website: http://www.jazzatpearls.com/jazz
Added by in2jazz on June 11, 2008