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Detroit Jazz Festival Announces New 2020 Lineup

Pharoah Sanders, Robert Glasper, René Marie, and Steve Turre will be among the top performers at the four-day event

Pharoah Sanders and Nat Reeves
Pharoah Sanders (left) and Nat Reeves at the Jazz Foundation of America’s 2019 Loft Party (photo: Udo Salters Photography)

The Detroit Jazz Festival has announced the new lineup for its 2020 virtual event on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 4-7). Although it leans heavily on Detroit-area performers as expected, it will also feature headlining sets by Pharoah Sanders and Robert Glasper, among others.

As previously reported by JazzTimes, this year’s festival, presented by Rocket Mortgage, will take place on three large indoor sound stages at the Detroit Marriott hotel inside the Renaissance Center. Each stage will mimic the size, sound, lighting, crew, and gear of traditional Festival stages. All performances will run contiguously and will be closed to onsite audiences. Fans can access the performances for free on the Detroit Jazz Fest Internet channels (Facebook Live, Instagram) and on Channel 22, the city’s new arts and entertainment TV channel; live performances will also be carried by Detroit Public Television, WRCJ 90.9 FM, WEMU 89.1 FM, and WDET 101.9 FM. In addition, the entire festival programming will be available on the proprietary DetroitJazzFest LIVE! app.   

To ensure that the health of all artists is protected and isolation is maintained throughout the weekend, the festival has developed extensive health and safety protocols. All festival staff, crew, tech, and interviewers must use PPE, and their temperatures will be tested daily. All hotel rooms, rehearsal rooms, and sound stages will be located within the Marriott complex, eliminating travel outside the controlled environment. Scheduled rehearsals and performances will be arranged to allow maximum physical distancing. Rehearsal spaces, green rooms, and all equipment used by artists will be disinfected between each rehearsal/performance.

On opening night, the Festival will kick off with an ensemble piece named JUSTICE, which pays tribute to the fight to end racism, the quest for equal rights, and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who died of pancreatic cancer on July 17 at the age of 80.

Below is a complete list of performers over the four days. All times are ET.

Friday, Sept. 4 (6:15–11:45 p.m.)

  • JUSTICE: Sister Strings: Roots, Voice & Drums, Detroit Jazz Fest All-Stars Generations Band, Michael Jellick Sextet, Robert Hurst presents the Black Current Jam Band
  • Lulu Fall and the Kris Johnson Group
  • Pharoah Sanders: Icon
  • Legacy Artists: Ursula Walker and Buddy Budson 

Saturday, Sept. 5 (11:20 a.m.–midnight)

  • Tartarsauce Traditional Jazz Band
  • Alex Harding: Afro Horn
  • Ron Di Salvo Trio
  • Dr. Prof. Leonard King Orchestra
  • Gayelynn McKinney & McKinney Zone
  • Sabbatical Bob
  • Aguanko
  • Rodney Whitaker Septet with vocalist Rockelle Fortin featuring the music of Count Basie and Billie Holiday
  • Steve Turre Quintet
  • Something to Live For – Music of Billy Strayhorn

Sunday, Sept. 6 (11:20 a.m.–midnight)

  • Collegiate Combo Competition Winner
  • Sven Anderson – Doc’s Holiday
  • The Rayse Biggs Collective
  • The Dave Bennett Quartet
  • Beartrap
  • Sean Dobbins Trio
  • Sister Strings: Roots, Voice & Drums
  • Robert Hurst presents The Black Current Jam Band
  • Walter White Big Band
  • Michael Jellick Sextet

Monday, Sept. 7 (11:20 a.m.–1 p.m.)

  • Marion Hayden: Detroit Legacy
  • David McMurray
  • Joan Belgrave presents the Marcus Belgrave Legacy Ensemble
  • Joey Alexander Trio
  • The Curtis Taylor Quartet
  • Call Al
  • Henry Conerway III
  • René Marie & Experiment in Truth
  • Robert Glasper