Nobody works harder or smarter on the Bay Area jazz scene than Marcus Shelby, a nimble bassist, prolific composer and that rare type of band leader who can keep a large ensemble well-rehearsed and decently employed. As a composer, he's best known for his ambitious and insightful extended works looking at crucial personalities in African-American history, including Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman and the Port Chicago sailors.
Shelby and his orchestra, augmented by high-octane singers Faye Carol and Martin Luther, will perform highlights from those works in a Black History Month celebration, 8 p.m. Thursday at Yoshi's San Francisco. $20-$23
Saturday, he assembles his quintet and Miss Carol to focus on the Harriet Tubman work for a family matinee, 11 a.m. at SFJazz Center. $5-$15
Also worth noting on the Bay Area jazz scene this week:
- Acclaimed singer/educator Linda Tillery explores "Spiritual Traditions in African-American Music," a series of four weekly classes co-sponsored by SFJazz, beginning 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Jazz Heritage Center. $20-$25 per class, $80-$100 for the series.
- Versatile, high-energy violinist Mads Tolling teams up with knockout vocalist Kim Nalley for an 8 p.m. Wednesday show at Yoshi's San Francisco. $19-$23
- Pianist and walking repository of everything that makes New Orleans music great Henry Butler gets his boogie-woogie going at SFJazz Center, 7 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 5:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday. $30
- Percussionist and educator John Santos augments his sextet with legendary Cuban singer Ernesto Oviedo for a 7:30 p.m. Saturday show at SFJazz Center. $25-$45
- Diane Witherspoon, a powerful vocalist with a grand feel for the blues, sings 8 p.m. Saturday at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $12-$15
- John Abercrombie, one of the most consistently dazzling and inventive jazz guitarists to emerge in the post-bop era, performs with his quartet, 8 p.m. Sunday at Yoshi's Oakland. $25-$49
- Trumpeter Peck Almond and pals pay tribute to influential (and sorely missed) Bay Area drummer Eddie Marshall, 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Berkeley's Jazzschool. $12-$15
- Saxophonist Kasey Knudsen and other top-notch jazz/new music players from the Bay Area reimagine the music of Radiohead with Disappear Incompletely, performing 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society near Half Moon Bay. $35
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