BALTIMORE — Baltimore-based Todd Marcus is one of the most prominent, renowned bass clarinetists in the world. As one of only a few players who solely focuses on the instrument, Marcus has carved out a unique sound, which thrusts his bass clarinet virtuosity into the realm of modern, straight ahead jazz.
Marcus’s music abounds with an overwhelming reverence for lineage, while also having a thoroughly modern sensibility. Yet, music is only a part of what makes Marcus and his music so special.
For the past 20 years, Marcus has lived and worked in West Baltimore at the community based non-profit Intersection of Change alongside Reverend Elder C.W. and Amelia Harris. Together, they have transformed the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and Presstman Street, converting abandoned buildings and 18 vacant lots from an open air drug market, to a place of hope and opportunity with programs offering supportive recovery housing for women overcoming substance abuse and homeless; arts classes and community beautification projects for children and adults; and employment to citizens returning from incarceration.
This work— along with the creation of community green spaces, over two dozen prominent murals and an urban farm— has resulted in real, tangible, positive change in a community otherwise neglected and overlooked.
The internationally renowned musician and community activist will perform for a hometown crowd on Saturday, June 16, 2018, at Baltimore Center Stage
located at 700 N. Calvert Street in the Mount Vernon neighborhood in Baltimore City as part of his tour to promote his new CD called “On These Streets, a Baltimore Story.”
The tracks on his CD poignantly reflect his challenges and push for social justice in his community, as well as to showcase his desire for hope and renewal. Marcus was joined by a crew of Baltimore’s finest musicians most of whom, live and work primarily in the city and surrounding areas.
“I’m honored to have these musicians on this record for their immense musicianship, but also their deep ties to Baltimore, which has a spirit and intensity that has shaped the playing of all of us and which helps give a greater depth and personal meaning to the music on this record,” said Marcus. “I’ve tried to capture both the challenges and strengths of our community in the music on this record and find beauty in each. It represents a merging of my two worlds of serving community and music and an effort to use each to foster dialogue. My hope is that this music can temporarily transcend our challenges, while we work on the harder discourse and partnerships needed to improve the conditions of our community and others like it in our country.”
The ongoing relevance of Marcus’ work at Intersection of Change was punctuated in 2015 in the midst of the unrest following the death of community member Freddie Gray. The unrest highlighted the anger and frustration over the community’s decades of poverty related struggles but also affirmed Marcus’ commitment to serving his neighborhood.
Reflecting on the turbulent time for his community spurred Marcus into compositional action as well, and the result was his latest record, “On These Streets.” Throughout the nine tracks, Marcus’ music channels all aspects of his experience living in Sandtown-Winchester; becoming deeply enmeshed within the fibre of the community through his nonprofit; the community itself; its resident’s various struggles, hopes, aspirations and much, much, more.
Marcus’s new CD, “On These Streets, a Baltimore Story,” is available for sale at www.toddmarcusjazz.com – under the “albums” tab, as well as CDBaby, Bandcamp, Amazon, and iTunes.