Festival Concert Series
Marcus Belgrave's Octet
"A Tribute to Louis Armstrong"
February 17, 2007

First United Methodist Church
Port Huron, MI

Marcus Belgrave is Detroit’s internationally recognized jazz trumpet great.  He came to prominence in the late ‘50s, touring and recording with Ray Charles’ Orchestra, then spent the early 60’s spearheading the modern jazz movement in New York working and recording in the bands of such innovators as Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Max Roach.  Many of these classic recordings (on Atlantic, Columbia and other labels) have now been re-issued on CD.

Since moving to Detroit in the mid-1960’s to join Motown records as staff trumpeter, Marcus has established himself as Detroit’s foremost jazz musician.  His performances now encompass the whole history of jazz musical styles…from early New Orleans, to Swing, Bebop and on to the latest contemporary sounds.

Marcus continues to tour and record in the world’s major jazz centers.  He was an original member of The Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra (chosen for that group by Wynton Marsalis), and with them played across America, appearing on national television specials.  In 1992 Marcus appeared on Jay Leno’s NBC Tonight Show as special solo guest in the Branford Marsalis Band.  He returned to that show in 1993 for a performance with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.  With the LCJO Marcus recorded for CBS/SONY  Records and some of that music is heard in the feature CD and video soundtrack to Ken Burn’s historic film “Jazz” shown on PBS TV.

Marcus’ most recent project is the “Louis Armstrong Tradition.”  Mr. Belgrave has arranged an 8-piece ensemble with transcriptions and written arrangements of Armstrong’s classic solos and recordings from the 1920’s “Hot Fives and Sevens” and 1930’s “Decca Records” eras.  These include Satchel Mouth Swing, West End Blues, Old Man Mose, Stardust, Potato Head Blues, Heebie Jeebies, Hear Me Talkin’ To You and others, plus Louis’ giant hits from the 50’s and 60’s:  Hello Dolly, What A Wonderful World, A Kiss To Build A Dream On, Someday You’ll Be Sorry, Back’o Town Blues and others.  In these concerts Marcus brings to life Armstrong’s bravura trumpet innovations as well as vocalizing in Satchmo’s inimitable “swing and scat” singing style.

Marcus has performed the music of  Louis Armstrong with, among others, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, at Orchestra Hall (“Salute to Satchmo”), at Henry Ford Museum, the Charles H. Wright Museum of Afro-American history, the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival and in concert halls across the USA and in Canada.

Performances by Marcus Belgrave are marked not only by his great technical virtuosity, soulful tone and style and seemingly limitless improvisational creativity, but also by an on-stage persona exuding warmth and joy in music making that communicates to audiences wherever he performs.  His performances of Armstrong’s trumpet classics follow the general stylistic shape of Louis’ approach, but are delivered with Belgrave’s personalized interpretation and nuance.  As a singer, Marcus is blessed with a low and gravelly voice. . .so his “Satchmo-like” vocalizing comes off naturally. . .evoking Armstrong’s sound, spirit and warmth with uncanny ease.
Zajonc/Valenti Management

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