Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Detroit Jazz Festival This Weekend

Free festival includes dozens of diverse national and local performers

Dianne Reeves
Dave Holland
Paquito D'Rivera
Luciana Souza

The 32nd Detroit Jazz Festival takes place this weekend, Sept. 2-5. Subtitled “We Bring You the World,” artists from Benin, Brazil, Cuba, Israel, Japan and the Netherlands will convene in Detroit at what is billed as “the world’s largest free jazz festival.” Performers include: Toots Thielemans, Dave Holland, Luciana Souza, Gary Burton, Ivan Lins, Paquito D’Rivera, Angélique Kidjo, Kevin Eubanks, Vijay Iyer, Vinicius Cantuária, Joe Lovano, Mandrill, Chuck Jackson, Deacon Jones Blues Revue, Steve Wilson, U.S. Airforce Airmen of Note with Joe Locke, Anthony Wilson, Sun Ra Arkestra, Sammy Figueroa, Tony Monaco, Richie Goods, Rahsaan Patterson, Sean Jones, and Christian McBride with Ernie Andrews and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra.

Some of Detroit’s own jazz artists will also perform, including Dianne Reeves, Geri Allen, Regina Carter, Curtis Fuller, Robert Hurst and Karriem Riggins. The festival will also recognize Detroit’s big band tradition with a J.C. Heard tribute band led by Walt Szymanski, and the music of Detroit’s Jean Goldkette played by Josh Duffee & his Orchestra. Jeff “Tain” Watts, the 2011 artist in residence, will beat the drum on the JPMorgan Chase Main Stage opening night. He will be joined by his newly created project the Drum Club, featuring percussionists Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez, Tony Allen, Pedro Martinez and, Susie Ibarra, along with vibraphonist Joe Locke and bassist Robert Hurst. The freedom theme will be further celebrated opening night with “Sing The Truth!” featuring Dianne Reeves, Angélique Kidjo and Lizz Wright performing the songs of the legendary Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Odetta. The festival’s closing concert on the same stage aptly features another important drummer, Karriem Riggins, collaborating on a special jazz-based performance with hip hop artist Common. His ensemble will feature Robert Hurst, Perry Hughes, Mike Jellick, Roger Jones, Mic Holden and DJ dez.

A cadre of young artists are also scheduled: 2010 Thelonious Monk Competition runner up vocalist Cyrille Aimee will join the Hot Club of Detroit, American Pianists Association’s 2011 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz winner Aaron Diehl, vocalist Champian Fulton, vibraphonist Warren Wolf, Vertical Engine, a fusion band from Japan and, last but not least, 11-year-old blues guitarist Ray Goren. The festival is also presenting several women-led bands including Amina Figarova, Anat Cohen, Regina Carter, Champian Fulton, Terri Lyne Carrington and Helen Sung.

Detroit Artist Showcase

Showcasing Detroit’s own great pool of musical talent is an important mission of the festival. Through an electronic submission process and vetting by a local committee, the following ensembles, running the gamut from jazz to blues, Latin and gypsy music, will perform in 2011:

Rayse Biggs & Friends

Derrick Gardner & the Jazz Prophets

Russ Miller Quartet

Gerard Gibbs & (the return of) ORGANized Crime

Kimmie Horne

Alex Graham Quartet

Rafael Ricky Statin

The Oblivion Project

Kathy Kosins

Keith Vreeland & Bad Dog

Dave Sharp’s Secret Seven

Johnnie Bassett & the Blues Insurgents with special guest Thornetta Davis

Los Gatos

The Detroit Jazz Festival will present its popular Come Monday gospel programming on Labor Day, Monday Sept. 6, with Detroit’s own Lowell Pye, Second Ebenezer Majestic Voices and Larry Callahan and S.O.G. in addition to The Steeles, a family gospel group from Minneapolis, MN.

Educational Programming

The Detroit Jazz Festival also includes the following big bands:

Henry Ford Community College Big Band with Gary Smulyan

Detroit School of Arts Jazz Ensemble with Diego Rivera

University of Michigan Jazz Ensemble with Robert Hurst, Geri Allen and Jeff “Tain” Watts

Berklee College of Music presents: Dayramir & Habana enTRANCE

Wayne State University Big Band with Joe Lovano

Eastern Michigan University Jazz Ensemble with Christian McBride

Northern Illinois Jazz Orchestra with Paquito D’Rivera

Oakland University Big Band with Regina Carter

Michigan high school jazz ensembles include:

Jackson Middle School at Parkside Jazz Band

Royal Oak High School Jazz Band

Clarkston High School Jazz Band

Ann Arbor Pioneer Jazz Band

Monroe High School Jazz Band

Northville Jazz Ensemble

Warren Mott Marauder Big Band

Cousino High School Jazz Ensemble

Nightly aftetootsr-hour jam sessions led by college ensembles will be held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. This year Jazz Planet After Hours will be streaming the festivities live, with interviews of artists relaxing after their performances.

The Jazz Talk Tent will present samples from the Savory Collection-rare recordings of live jazz performances from the ’30s and ’40s-that were recently bequeathed to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem. Guests at the Talk Tent include Maxine Gordon (widow of saxophonist Dexter Gordon), Norman Granz biographer Tad Herschorn, Russ Davis of Voice of America, Afrobeat originator, Tony Allen, Dave Holland and more. The final round of the festival’s poetry slam, presented by Pepsi, also will take place in the tent on Saturday night.

For more information visit Detroit Jazz Fest>Detroit Jazz Fest.

Originally Published