Maurice ‘Mobetta’ Brown Flows Between Jazz and Hip-Hop at the Black Cat

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A man in sunglasses plays the trumpet while a woman sings into a microphone.
Trumpeter and rapper Maurice "Mobetta" Brown performs with vocalist India Shawn and the Free Nationals at the Black Cat in San Francisco on Sept. 15. (Courtesy of the Black Cat)

On stage at The Black Cat on Wednesday night, Maurice “Mobetta” Brown fluidly bounced between rapping, playing trumpet and dancing through the crowd like a true showman. A week into his residency at the intimate basement club’s Jazz@theEDGE Festival, he looked right at home on stage and mingling with the audience, which included San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland R&B royalty Raphael Saadiq and D’Wayne Wiggins (who later made a surprise appearance on stage).

Mobetta’s residency continues tonight, Sept. 16, with an encore show with vocalist India Shawn and the Free Nationals, the jazz and soul four-piece best known for their work with Anderson .Paak. On stage with Mobetta on Wednesday, the Free Nationals accompanied the trumpeter and MC on his uptempo tracks and performed funkafied interpolations of some of their own originals, complete with Zapp & Roger-esque talkbox.

As more high-profile hip-hop artists lean on jazz musicians to lend the richness of live instrumentation to their work, Mobetta has become an in-demand collaborator. He has written horn arrangements for Logic and produced tracks for Prodigy of Mobb Deep and Talib Kweli, who appeared with him last week at the Black Cat.

From left to right: Black Cat owner Fritz Quattlebaum, Maurice 'Mobetta' Brown, Raphael Saadiq, D'Wayne Wiggins and San Francisco Mayor London Breed. (Courtesy of the Black Cat)

His residency at the San Francisco club continues through Sept. 26, where he shows off his genre-crossing range with a slate of notable collaborators. The Free Nationals’ keyboardist T.Nava joins on Sept. 17 and 18. Later, on Sept. 19, he’ll perform with Grammy-winning trombone player Saunders Sermons, who was his bandmate in the Tedesci Trucks Band. Experimental bassist and Prince collaborator MonoNeon joins on Sept. 22 and 23 with pedal steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier.

After Brown’s tenure at the Black Cat concludes, Jazz@theEDGE continues with an October residency by another celebrated trumpeter, Keyon Harrold, who has collaborated with Erykah Badu, Beyoncé and JAY-Z.