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Todd Marcus | On These Streets (A Baltimore Story)

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Jazz: Post-Bop Jazz: Mainstream Jazz Moods: Instrumental
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On These Streets (A Baltimore Story)

by Todd Marcus

A musical portrait of Marcus' west Baltimore neighborhood (thrust into national spotlight after the death of community resident Freddie Gray which led to the city's 2015 civil unrest) with original compositions depicting the community's strengths and challenges.
Genre: Jazz: Post-Bop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. On the Corner
8:28 album only
2. An Intersection of Change (Intro)
2:04 album only
3. An Intersection of Change
7:21 album only
4. Ground Zero (At Penn. & North) [Intro]
1:32 album only
5. Ground Zero (At Penn. & North)
8:48 album only
6. I Surrender All (Intro)
0:40 album only
7. I Surrender All
5:15 album only
8. Fear of the Known
6:15 album only
9. P.T.S.D. in the Hood (Intro)
0:22 album only
10. P.T.S.D in the Hood
5:50 album only
11. Pennsylvania Avenue Hustle (Intro)
1:42 album only
12. Pennsylvania Avenue Hustle
4:55 album only
13. It Still Gets Still (Intro)
0:33 album only
14. It Still Gets Still
6:52 album only
15. Covered in Snow
6:12 album only
16. N.J. '88 (Ode to the 80s)
6:21 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Since 1997 Marcus has lived a double life as a community activist and leader of the west Baltimore nonprofit Intersection of Change, while also carving out a career as one of the world’s preeminent jazz bass clarinetists. His album On These Streets offers a musical portrait of his neighborhood of 20 plus years which was thrust into the national spotlight in 2015 due to the civil unrest following the death of fellow community resident Freddie Gray.

Self taught in jazz theory and composition, Marcus’ straight-ahead playing has carved out a unique voice for the bass clarinet in modern jazz. The New York Times writes, “Mr. Marcus is probably the most inventive bass clarinetist working in straight-ahead jazz today…[and] lives in Baltimore, where he is a guiding light on the city’s jazz scene who doubles as an activist and organizer.”

While the New Jersey native’s work over recent years has focused extensively on his Egyptian heritage by incorporating Middle Eastern influences in jazz, his current efforts have focused on his experiences at home in Baltimore as On These Streets seeks to portray both the challenges and strengths of his community. The record features Marcus on bass clarinet with Paul Bollenback (guitar), Warren Wolf (vibes),George Colligan (piano), Kris Funn (bass), and Eric Kennedy (drums).

Marcus has performed nationally and internationally and was awarded a 2016 Jazz Hero award by the Jazz Journalists Association. The bass clarinetist has been voted a “Rising Star” in Downbeat Magazine’s Annual Critics Poll since 2013 and in 2014, was the winner of Baltimore’s prestigious Baker Artist Award winner, and in 2016 was selected as one of only nine musicians in the country (alongside fellow winner Wayne Shorter) for a prestigious composition commission by the New York based organization Chamber Music America.

From CD Liner Notes:

"This is a story about a neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland where I grew up but it could be a story about many hometowns around the world. What makes this different from many other cities is that Baltimore has a history of segregation and racism that are not so obvious as with many other cities.

I was born in 1940, the second year of World War II and have many vague memories of that time as a child. Baltimore is a seaport and was a very vital part of the war effort as the city built more “Liberty” ships during the war than any other city in the nation.
Baltimore prospered during the war and entertainment came along with the prosperity. Many areas sprang up around Baltimore that featured entertainment, such as Pennsylvania Avenue, which became known simply as The Avenue.

Todd Marcus lives in the neighborhood called Sandtown where I was raised and first saw live music at The Royal Theatre. Musicians such as Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Lester Young, Charlie Parker and almost any great artist from that era performed either at The Royal Theatre or one of the many venues along The Avenue.

The first song on this recording is “On The Corner” and depicts the many corners in Sandtown where you can find almost whatever it is you are looking for. Todd’s intricate melodies remind me of the hustle and bustle of those corners and which he plays on one of the most demanding of instruments, the bass clarinet.

“Ground Zero at Penn and North” is less than three blocks from where I grew up (also only blocks from where Freddie Gray was killed in 2015) and is in a similar vein as it conjures up the dangerous activities that take place.

The other compositions by Todd all vividly conjure up the many moods of Baltimore and particularly, Sandtown. In between the music, you will hear live interviews from news clips and community voices talking about the problems, strengths, and history of the community.

The musicians on this recording, all of whom I have performed with and many I have recorded with, are all from the Baltimore area. It reminds me a bit of a recording, The Blues Chronicles-Tales of Life, that I did in 1996. It also featured many of Baltimore’s great musicians and told the story of growing up in Baltimore. In a way this is a continuation of that story and I am very happy to hear this music and story being continued by Todd.

I hope you will enjoy this music as much I am enjoying it. Todd Marcus is another product of the Sandtown community and this recording is a musical story of this very important area of Baltimore, and I would say, of the United States."

Gary Bartz



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