By LOU FANCHER
Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra: The Legacy of Duke Ellington: 50 Years of Swing!
Friday, May 2, 2014
Zellerbach Hall, UC Berkeley
Better than: It's Ellington. What could be better than that?
San Francisco bassist and band leader Marcus Shelby's tribute to the music of Duke Ellington in Friday's Cal Performances presentation in Berkeley was all about the ABC's of swing.
Ambitious, amiable, authentic and atmospheric; bold, bluesy, barefoot (we'll get to that), and Bard-inspired (and that too); the cool, caroling, crooning, cartwheeling conversation between guest artists and Shelby's 16-piece orchestra added up to much more than alphabet soup.