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About this Clip:
Martin Luther McCoy and his superb band perform Marvin Gaye’s classics “What’s Going On” and “What’s Happening Brother” during their October 17, 2021 performance at the SFJAZZ Center, broadcast October 24 on Fridays Live.
Bay Area vocalist, songwriter, and SFJAZZ Collective member Martin Luther McCoy honors the legacy of soul singing legend Marvin Gaye for the 50th anniversary of his landmark 1971 album What’s Going On. Sparked by acts of police brutality that Four Tops member Renaldo Benson witnessed in May 1969 during the “Bloody Thursday” riot at Berkeley’s People’s Park, the classic title song composed by Benson and songwriter Al Cleveland was offered to Gaye for inclusion on his next album. Partially rewriting the song, Gaye used it as part of a now-iconic song cycle steeped in social consciousness about Vietnam, environmental issues, and race relations in America.
Rising to international attention for his work with The Roots, Cody ChesnuTT, Dave Matthews, Jill Scott, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Zion I, McCoy is perhaps best known for his on-screen role as the Jimi Hendrix inspired character “Jo-Jo” in director Julie Taymor’s Oscar-nominated 2007 Beatles tribute film Across the Universe. He joined the SFJAZZ Collective for the 2019 Season devoted to the 50th anniversaries of Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and Sly Stone’s Stand!, and this event was a perfect continuation of this this theme, celebrating the pivotal musical statements that have come to define the turbulent times that inspired their creation.