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Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra : Port Chicago

One of the most difficult undertakings is to write a tone poem in the language of jazz. What unfolds here is a 14-movement suite based on the Port Chicago explosion of 1944, near Oakland, Calif. An explosion of undetermined origin killed more than 320 men, mostly African-American sailors. The very gifted composer/arranger/bassist Marcus Shelby attempts to capture the segregated conditions under which the sailors worked, the horrific explosion itself, even the mindset of the ill-fated survivors trying to cope with mutiny, court-martial, the lack of full exoneration, and the injustices of racism.

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