Jazz bassist and composer Marcus Shelby grew up in Sacramento. Despite the lure of a promising New York jazz career and a Columbia Records deal, he made his home in San Francisco and has been a leading figure in the Bay Area’s blues and jazz scene. He’s especially known for his trio of big band suites, “Port Chicago”, “Harriet Tubman” and “Soul of the Movement,” which are steeped in his deep research of African-American history. On Friday, his 16-piece band the Marcus Shelby Orchestra will celebrate the legacy of Duke Ellington, born 115 years ago this week, with a tribute concert presented by Cal Performances at Zellerbach Hall. We talk with Shelby about his music, his career and the enormous influence and talent of jazz legend Duke Ellington.
Marcus Shelby, jazz bassist, composer, teacher and member of the San Francisco Arts Commission