Remembering lessons learned at UC Berkeley

03.28.14
Hugh Masekela
San Francisco Chronicle

By Leah Garchik

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Hugh Masekela played two "75th Birthday Celebration" concerts at SFJazz this week, early in a nationwide tour that started in Los Angeles and will wind up in New York. In a moment of exultation late in the concert, the audience broke into song to wish him "happy birthday," and he told us we'd been the first audience to do that. A bit of showbiz hyperbole, because the tour had barely begun, but we gobbled it up - as we ate up every delicious note, every delicate shuffle, every delirious expression of camaraderie - with gusto.

He sang, he strutted, he swung his trumpet between his legs, he gave thanks to the "geezers" still around who had been instrumental in San Francisco's having supported San Francisco legislation, passed in 1978, against investment in companies doing business with South Africa.

The silhouettes of a dozen people sitting in the front row were visible in the stage lights. And 9 out of 12 were snapping their heads in time to the music. "Thank you, San Francisco, for receiving me with so much joy and generosity," Masekela said at the start of the show. Almost three hours later, when the show ended, he'd returned that gift.