The Napa Valley Jazz Society will present the Marcus Shelby 16-piece Orchestra with featured vocalist Tiffany Austin in a program of classic and contemporary jazz at 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at the St. Helena Performing Arts Center, 1401 Grayson Ave., on the St. Helena High School campus.
Shelby is a bassist, composer, conductor and recognized leader in the Bay Area jazz community, and is a Resident Artistic Director at SFJAZZ in its current season, with six different shows on their schedule.
The program will include blues and swing arrangements, as well as selections from “Freedom Song,” a tribute to the music of the Civil Rights movement.
“It is exciting for the Society to be kicking off our 10th year of live jazz presentations in this superb new facility,” said NVJS president Bill Hart. “Our kind of music – what we call ‘classic swinging and soulful jazz’ – requires a quality piano, good acoustics, comfortable seating, and a sense of intimacy with the music. There aren’t many venues in the Valley that combine all of these, and when you double or triple our normal seating capacity, you open up a lot of new possibilities.
“This isn’t our only touch point with St. Helena High School. For several years we have been working with the Music Director to identify candidates for our Scholarship Program that awards scholarships to graduating music students at Napa Valley high schools. We have also enjoyed the privilege of including St. Helena music leader Craig Bond among our small group of Artistic Advisors.”
In a recent article on Black History Month, KCSM Jazz91 identified Shelby as one of the “Bay Area’s Best,” noting “Shelby began leading a jazz orchestra in 1999 as a vehicle for his prolific composition and arranging skills, as well as to feature some of the Bay Area’s best jazz players. ... He is routinely heard in northern California’s top jazz venues from the Monterey Jazz Festival to SFJAZZ, Yoshi’s, the Healdsburg Jazz Festival and Kuumbwa.”
Austin, the band’s lead singer, has appeared in clubs, concert halls and festivals around the world, including a spate of recent appearances at SFJAZZ. She has worked with musicians such as Roy Ayers, John Handy, saxophone player/drummer Howard Wiley, and the Japanese composer of “Kill Bill” fame, Tomoyasu Hotei. She has recorded a Hoagy Carmichael project and a project honoring Ella Fitzgerald. Austin also found the time and energy to obtain a law degree from UC Berkeley.
Tickets are $25 for members of the Napa Valley Jazz Society or $45 for non-members. Visit NVJS.org or call 224-JAZZ (5299).