Marcus Shelby's press page includes reviews on concert performances, upcoming performances, award ceremonies, film work, interviews, partners, and novelty articles. Please click on any of the links below to learn more about Marcus Shelby and the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra.

photo: Thomas J. Story []

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Marcus Shelby/MSJO Press pack

Recent Articles

East Bay Express
July 2015
Marcus Shelby's Conversant Bass
“Anna Deavere Smith enlisted local bassist Marcus Shelby for a play about mass incarceration in America.” ...Read…

SF Weekly
July 2015
Chatting with Anna Deavere Smith
“Playwright, actor, and educator Anna Deavere Smith isn't volunteering to be a modern day Atlas. ” ...Read…

San Francisco Chronicle
July 2015
Anna Deavere Smith explores race, schools and the road to prison
“This is one of those rare moments when people do begin to think about race relations in this country” ...Read…

April 2015
Bassist Marcus Shelby Finds Freedom’s Message in the Music
“Bassist and bandleader Marcus Shelby is a perennial Bay Area jazz favorite whose compositions explore the African American experience...”...Read...

March 2015
Behind Bars: Bay Area Jazz Veteran Marcus Shelby on the Failures of the U.S. Prison System -- and Why We All Should Care
“You don’t need to be plugged into the Bay Area music scene for long to know the name Marcus Shelby. A seemingly tireless and always...”...Read...

Mercury News
April 2015
Marcus Shelby brings Ellington’s ‘Thunder’ to Berkeley
“This is the story of a “local guy” who stuck to his guns and made it on his own terms. He’s a DIY musician. His name is Marcus Shelby...”…Read...

March 2015
Jazz Legend Marcus Shelby Dreams Soundtrack for World Premiere of ‘Isfahan’
“With allusions to the Duke Ellington Orchestra’s 1963 tour of Iran, the world premiere of Isfahan Blues, a co-production of the African American Shakespeare Company and Golden Thread...”...Read...

September 2012
5 Minutes with Jazz Bassist Marcus Shelby
“Whether performing with his big band or his Hot 7 septet, San Francisco-based jazz bassist and composter Marcus Shelby, 45, is creating...”...Read

Jazz Musician Marcus Shelby
“Marcus Shelby knows how to stand out in a crowd. Perhaps it’s the natty straw fedora he wears to catch a Sunday night gig at a Mission District dive bar...”...Read

Reflections in Rhythm
August 2010
Reflections with Marcus Shelby
“Marcus Shelby first gained major public attention with the hard swinging unit BLACKNOTE and their debut recording from the indie label of...”...Read

Mission Local
January 2010
Marcus celebrates MLK's birthday at Red Poppy Art House,SF:
"Marcus Shelby, the composer and bassist, told this and other stories Friday night at a celebration of Dr. King’s 81st birthday at the Red Poppy Art House...The music soared, the solos uplifted..." ...Read...

LA Weekly
January 7, 2010
Marcus Shelby brings Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King alive in LA!
"Someone laid Harriet Tubman on us, a two-disc concept thing by the Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, and it knocked us out. The compositions and arranging have Mingus all over them, maybe not so pissed off, but ballsy, muscular music that gets the point across." ...Read...

East Bay Express
May 2009
Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra
“There’s no debating Marcus Shelby’s genius as a composer. The San Francisco bassist is rumored to have perfect pitch and supposedly writes from memory...”...Read

Tue, October 16, 2007

"Marcus Shelby marries lyrical life of Harriet Tubman with jazz"

Thu, October 18, 2007

"SF's Marcus Shelby illuminates history through jazz. Plus: Best bets for the SFJAZZ Festival"

San Francisco Chronicle
Wed, January 10, 2007

The California Report Magazine 2006-05-05
The California Report
Fri, May 5, 2006 -- 4:30pm
KQED's statewide radio news program, providing daily coverage of issues, trends and public policy decisions affecting California and its diverse population.
Host: Scott Shafer
Listen here.

The “10 Most Influential African Americans in the Bay Area” for 2005
Arts & Entertainment: Marcus Shelby
Music Composer and Arranger
Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra, San Francisco

Marcus Shelby is an award winning composer, arranger, educator and bassist working in San Francisco. His credits include original scoring for film, theater and dance as well as jazz composition for his own groups, the 15-piece Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra and the Marcus Shelby Trio. He is nationally recognized for his innovative and collaborative approach to composing and arranging for text, the visual arts, dance and theater and for his commitment to using jazz to narrate the rich history of African Americans. Marcus Shelby is on the faculty at San Francisco State University and U.C. Berkeley’s Young Musicians Program. More...

Port Chicago
by Jack Bowers

"Are you aware of Port Chicago, and do you know what happened there more than sixty years ago? Chances are you don’t, as it’s not something American history books will likely mention or military recruiters point to with pride. In brief: on July 17, 1944, a massive explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Base (near Oakland, California) killed more than 320 men, most of them African-American sailors, and injured some 400 others, by far the worst disaster on US soil during World War II." More...

Arturo Gómez
Music Director, jazz89-KUVO
The Oasis In The City
Colorado's First HD FM Radio Station
Celebrating 10 Years of Live Performances!

"Its been awhile since I've been so hyped about a new release, I have been a fan of Marcus Shelby since day 1 with Black Note. His leader recordings either as a trio or with orchestra have always been enjoyable, now there's Port Chicago. Being aware of the Port Chicago incident since the 1970's I was surprised someone addressed this little known and often hidden part of history. The subject matter is provocative as is the music. Last year Irvin Mayfield had a similar concept album with his Strange Fruit look at lynching. Two snaps for Marcus."

Forrest Bryant, All About Jazz

"At once a sober examination of World War II, a celebration of human movement and an impassioned call to justice, Marcus Shelby's bold Port Chicago suite weaves historical threads into a thoroughly modern statement."

Jazz Week JPL list

I'll throw in some shout-outs to a couple of excellent upcoming releases by SF Bay Area artists...

"The Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra's "Port Chicago" (Noir Records) is a fantastic 14-part score for jazz ballet, inspired by the story of African-Americans working in unsafe conditions at the Port Chicago facility in Oakland during WWII. The horrendous munitions explosion there in July 1944 killed 320 men, most of them African-Americans. A subsequent wo rk stoppage by the survivors led to a massive mutiny trial with 50 convictions (clemency was granted after the war, and one man was formally pardoned --by Bill Clinton in 1999!). Anyway, I got a preview copy of the disc a few days ago for a magazine article I'm writing about Marcus, and I can't stop listening to it. It has a great blend of Ellingtonian 40s big band swing and modern tone-poem sounds, he really mixes up his time signatures (to keep things interesting for a choreographer, as well as for himself), it's
just first-rate all around. I think the final CDs will be finished in a couple of weeks.

Suite Success
Bassist, bandleader, and composer Marcus Shelby proves that music is all around us.
by Tiffany Martini
Strings Magazine. More...

Other News

Dorka Keen interview with Marcus Shelby
"Keen on Art"

A Cooler Time
Nothin' but the Swing: Bass player Marcus Shelby keeps the past contemporary.
Jazz tradition thrives in Marcus Shelby's passionate hands
By Amanda Nowinski

Equal Justice Society
Port Chicago
In the key of war
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, December 10, 2004

Oakland Ballet
‘Billy the Kid’, ‘Ella’, ‘Double Happiness’, ‘Les Noces’, ‘Les Biches’
October 2005
Oakland, Calvin Simmons Theatre
by Renee Renouf

Fear of a Brown Planet
Youth Speaks and the National Performance Network Present
the World Premiere of Fear of a Brown Planet
Written and Performed by The Chicano Messengers of Spoken Word, and Directed by Tony Garcia of El Centro Su Teatro (Denver, Colorado). Music by Marcus Shelby & Lighting Design by Selina Young

Indian Jazz Suites
Chitresh Das & Jason Samuels Smith: India Jazz Suites
Nov 11, 2005
By Allan Ulrich

Copyright © 2006-2008, Marcus Shelby, all rights reserved.