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Monday, October 3, 2022

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Arts + CultureMusicUnder the Stars: Jazz institution Marcus Shelby shares new...

Under the Stars: Jazz institution Marcus Shelby shares new work at free outdoors event

Plus: 2 amazing Bandcamp Friday picks—and a blessing for Blondie super-fans.

Under the Stars is a quasi-weekly column that presents new music releases, upcoming shows, opinions, and a number of other adjacent items. We keep moving with the changes, thinking outside the margins.

We remain quite excited about BART going half-price for the month of September, attending this year’s Sun/4 45 Sessions in conjunction with Hiero Day, where Dante Ross, legendary hip-hop producer-executive, will get behind the decks. We’re also hyped to pop down to Bottom of The Hill on Thu/1, to catch the water-flow style of prolific Queens-bred rapper Homeboy Sandman. Bandcamp Friday resumes Fri/2, so we also have a couple of suggestions for you there.

OK, Let’s get it!


Marcus Shelby, the Bay Area-based artist, wears many hats. Composer, educator, artistic director of Healdsburg Jazz, and Yerba Buena Gardens Festival artist-in-residence, he’s single-handedly a San Francisco jazz institution.

Long ago I was privy to an intimate rehearsal for an upcoming edition of the North Beach Jazz Festival in which Shelby, on bass, backed up Pharaoh Sanders, the “sheets of sound” master saxophone player. The second tune they rehearsed was John Coltrane’s “Naima.” The rendering was so gentle, full of grace and presence, that once it was finished, there was not one dry eye among the eavesdroppers.

That facility will be at work for Shelby’s latest project Blues in the City. He is collaborating with San Francisco poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin and a stellar new ensemble of musicians, examining how the city’s most vulnerable citizens—the homeless, the poor, and BIPOC communities—have been drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The original suite is keyed to Nina Simone’s directive: “An artist’s duty,” she said, “is to reflect the times.” The event is free to the public, and takes place at the esplanade in Yerba Buena Gardens.

For more info go here.


In the fall of 2018, an EP of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” spearheaded by Chicago’s own Numero Group, elaborated on the emergence of post-punk and disco, as well as the influence of reggae on the beginnings of hip-hop and, in turn, how Blondie spat it back into the group’s music. The resulting effect is similar to the collage-like elements that would comprise a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting—to cite another rising talent from the era and city from which Blondie hailed. In fact, the group’s lead singer Debbie Harry, who eventually decided to use the vocal muse of Donna Summer in presenting the lyrics of the song, would feature Basquiat in the band’s music video for “Rapture” later in 1981.

“Heart Of Glass” clocked in at #19 on the 1979 Billboard Hot 100 list, getting in alongside Paul McCartney making disco moves with Wings via the hit “GoodNight Tonite.” Many artists from earlier eras were doing dancefloor-friendly things as well to stay contemporary. Yet Blondie, the only group on that list from the New Wave glitterati, incorporated four rising genres that would dominate the musical landscape to come.

Now in 2022, Numero Group has released Blondie’s first archival presentation of these essential years. It includes four records of outtakes and rarities, a book of liner notes featuring interviews with every band member, a 120-page annotated discography, and other “super fan” extras.

Is it too much? Go listen to their evergreen hit “Dreaming” and make the damn purchase.

The release comes in a wild array of formats available here.



Waajeed’s Memoirs of Hi-Tech Jazz is intended for enjoyment. It’s described as, “a reprieve from the Midwestern work ethic, and a reminder to ground in the pleasures of your body and the land” in its Bandcamp liners notes. The album’s lead track “Motor City Madness” presents a snapshot complete with yesterday’s jazz horn accents and contemporary electronic footwork.

Listen y’all, Waajeed is a don. Period. His 20 years of producing contemporary soul music include co-founding Slum Village with the late J Dilla, fronting Platinum Pied Pipers, and collaborating with Carl Craig, Theo Parrish, and Underground Resistance. He’s always repping, soul-controlling from an unabashedly-Black rhythmic perspective that defines Detroit, past and present.

If he wants us to join him in celebrating “Black leisure and play; the mundane joys that endure despite the world’s depleting realities,” I’d take him up on the invitation.

Pre-order here.


If the Marvel cinematic universe needs a boost to get new people into seats for the next onslaught of films, they should hire multi-instrumentalist Seth Applebaum to score that shit. He’s the brainchild and lead cat wrangler of Ghost Funk Orchestra, a New York psychedelic band of which I can’t get enough.

He and his 10-piece all-star band have that chi. Like, take the music seriously, but not yourself.

With David Axelrod snippets, using a Williams S. Burroughs “cut-up” method of scoring brassy horns to navigate through stoner rock, lounge, jazz, and funk—the most identifiable genres in this amalgam.

They brought the fun back to funk.

Unfortunately, I missed them in March at Zeitgiest in San Francisco, but album A New Kind of Love is due out in October. “Scatter,” their new single, is classic Applebaum, riding roughshod through pop orchestras, high on Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas gusto. GFO never fails to deliver.

Pre-order here.

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

John-Paul Shiverhttps://www.clippings.me/channelsubtext
John-Paul Shiver has been contributing to 48 Hills since 2019. His work as an experienced music journalist and pop culture commentator has appeared in the Wire, Resident Advisor, SF Weekly, Bandcamp Daily, PulpLab, AFROPUNK, and Drowned In Sound.

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