Sunday Morning “Beyond the Blues”

Marcus Shelby Orchestra
with special guests Tiffany Austin and Craig Handy

shelbyRaven Performing Arts Theater
115 North Street, Healdsburg
11 a.m. | Free

“Beyond the Blues” was commissioned and is co-presented today by Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, San Francisco.

Marcus Shelby is a powerful bass player, bandleader and composer who has taken on an extra task – reminding and educating Americans about African American history and its connection to music, namely blues, gospel, spirituals and jazz. He is a scholar and teacher, but without any of the stuffiness associated with those trades. When he undertakes a project, his goal is to be all inclusive, recruiting a broad range of citizens to sing in choirs propelled by his bands. He makes history a living thing.

For his show at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival, Shelby will be celebrating the rich legacy of freedom movements in the United States.  The music will include freedom songs, gospel songs, the blues, prison songs and will honor the lives of Harriet Tubman and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   Shelby recorded suites in honor of both of these heroes of the black struggle – Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land in 2008 and Soul of the Movement: Meditations on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 2011. Each is Ellingtonian in scope, and his 20-piece orchestra will perform selections from them at a free Sunday morning concert at the Raven Theater called “Beyond the Blues.”

tiffanyGuest stars will be the ebullient Tiffany Austin, who graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law but decided she could better serve her community by singing jazz, and Craig Handy, a tenor saxophonist who conjures gutbucket players like Gene Ammons and Illinois Jacquet. This show will be something like the Healdsburg Jazz Festival goes to church, although the preaching will be strictly of the musical variety.