Historical Suite and Classics by Jazz Orchestra and AM Jazz Band
The HSU Jazz Orchestra will perform three movements from Marcus Shelby’s Port Chicago Suite, which commemorates a landmark in Civil Rights history with a northern California connection, to climax its concert at HSU on Saturday, December 8.
According to Oakland-based composer Shelby, Port Chicago was the northern California naval base where an explosion in 1944 killed more than 320 men, mostly African American sailors, in the single worst disaster on U.S. soil during World War II. The Navy was racially segregated then, and only blacks were assigned to load ammunition on ships, under unsafe conditions. A protest by hundreds of African American sailors led to the largest mutiny trial in Navy history and a public outcry, ultimately resulting in an integrated U.S. Navy.
The performance of this work is a prelude to an appearance by the composer in March, said HSU Jazz Orchestra director Dan Aldag. “Marcus Shelby is bringing his jazz orchestra to perform his newest work, a jazz oratorio called ’Harriet Tubman: Bound for the Promised Land.’ It will be the keynote event for the HSU diversity conference, which will now be called the Social Justice Summit.”
In addition to the Shelby work, the Jazz Orchestra will perform another piece with a Civil Rights connection: the Charles Mingus composition, “Fables of Faubus,” a caustic “tribute” to Orval Faubus, the Arkansas governor who attempted to stop African American students from desegregating the Little Rock Central High School in 1957.
The program also includes the Count Basie arrangement of “Meetin’ Time,” a classic Miles Davis tune (“Milestones”) with a new arrangement by Mike Tamaro, a Latin Jazz number (Cubauza"), a piece by the Seattle-based avant-garde composer, Wayne Horvitz, a Duke Ellington Orchestra tune, and the blues and hip-hop influenced “Blue Opening” by Ike Sturm.
A couple of nights before the Jazz Orchestra performs, the AM Jazz Band performs classics in the Big Band style, including “Summertime” by George Gershwin, “Salt Peanuts” by Dizzy Gillespie, “My Funny Valentine” by Rodgers and Hart, “Jeannine” by Duke Pearson, and “Cold Duck Time” by Eddie Harris. The band also performs “Drivin,” an original by band member Adrian Re.
The AM Jazz Band performs on Thursday, December 6, and the Jazz Orchestra concert is on Saturday, December 8. Both concerts begin at 8 PM in the Fulkerson Recital Hall on the HSU campus. Tickets to each are $7 general, $3 students and seniors, from HSU Ticket Office (826-3928) or at the door.