Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pirates & Poppies

The Mission District love affair continues: Because I've been running by Pirate Cat Radio so much of late as it's a couple of blocks from home, I finally decided to check out their DJ policy/apprentice program. Saturday, I went in, got an espresso and met some of the crew and got the lowdown on the diverse set of programing and a lively group of community volunteers. Later, I got to a show at Red Poppy Art House, another very local, community-run venue for music & the arts. On the bill was local bass great Marcus Shelby, who is continuing to document, translate & express a musical journey through the American history civil rights movement through composition, performance and an upcoming series of workshops at the Poppy.  I saw his "Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman" 'oratorio-for-jazz' tribute @ Yerba Buena Center a while back and was blown away. Now he's focusing on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The evening showcased his quartet on "MLK & Jazz" and proved Shelby's might both as eloquent teacher & master musician. Calling the intimate, cozy & volunteer driven Poppy 'one of the best places in the world' to play, he stressed the importance of community efforts & organizing while detailing the importance of the leading figures in the civil rights movement. Backed (or fronted) by the extremely lively & inspired Howard Wiley on sax as well as Matt Clark on piano and drummer Jef Marrs, the quartet provided a definitive example of letting freedom ring, as they jammed on a cross section of jazz. And I can say Hallelujah to that.

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