Detroit Jazz Festival Lineup Announced

33rd edition of the world’s largest free jazz festival

Sonny Rollins at Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2011
Wayne Shorter

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The Detroit Jazz Festival, which bills itself as the world’s largest free jazz festival, has announced the lineup for its 33rd annual event, which takes place he festival dates are August 31 through September 3. This year’s roster will include Sonny Rollins; Wynton Marsalis Quintet; Pat Metheny Unity Band featuring Chris Potter, Antonio Sanchez and Ben Williams; Chick Corea and Gary Burton with the Harlem String Quartet; and the Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade.

Other headliners will include Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas Quintet: Sound Prints featuring Lawrence Fields, Linda Oh and Joey Baron; Lew Tabackin Quartet featuring Randy Brecker; Jerry Bergonzi Quintet; Donny McCaslin Group featuring Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre and Mark Guiliana; David Binney Quartet; Brian Lynch and Unsung Heroes; Cécile McLorin Salvant; and Grégoire Maret Quartet, among others.

Rollins and Marsalis return to the festival for the first time since 1987, and Metheny will make his festival debut with his new ensemble. Additionally, Terence Blanchard will serve as the 2012 Artist-in-Residence, performing with his quartet as well as curating a special Art Blakey tribute, featuring Peter Washington, Lewis Nash, Geoffrey Keezer and Curtis Fuller, among other appearances.

Detroit’s own jazz community will be represented by trumpeter Marcus Belgrave, who will front the Homecoming Band, spotlighting fellow Michigan natives Curtis Fuller, Kenny Garrett, Geri Allen, Marion Hayden and Louis Hayes. Garrett, Hayes, and tenor saxophonist Rick Margitza will also perform with their respective quartets. The Wayne State University Big Band will perform new works by pianist Michael Abene and feature guests Lovano and vocalist Judi Silvano. Other homecoming performances include saxophonist Charles McPherson in a co-led quintet with trumpeter Tom Harrell, multi-reedman Charlie Gabriel, who will celebrate his 80th birthday with special guests, and drummer Gerald Cleaver performing with his working band, Uncle June.

Various concept projects will also be showcased in the upcoming festival. Conductor David Berger will lead “The Sacred Music of Duke Ellington,” a program focusing on music from Ellington’s three landmark Sacred Concerts written during the last decade of his life. The program will feature a 100-voice Detroit choir and a big band, as well as vocal soloists. The Mack Avenue Records Super-Band will make its worldwide debut, featuring select artists from their roster: Kevin Eubanks, Sean Jones, Tia Fuller, and Alfredo Rodríguez, among others. Saxophonist Steve Wilson will be featured in a special “Bird with Strings Revisited” project, paying homage to the Charlie \Parker’s landmark album, Charlie Parker with Strings (Verve, 1955).

An assortment of trios is also scheduled, ranging from organ-centric groups such as Larry Goldings, Peter Bernstein, Bill Stewart; Bernard Purdie, Reuben Wilson, Grant Green Jr. (formerly known as the God Fathers of Groove); plus one with special guest Donald Harrison Jr., and Ellery Eskelin’s trio; to the piano virtuoso Fred Hersch’s trio and Detroit-based Gary Schunk’s Electric Fusion Trio.

In addition to Blanchard’s presence, New Orleans’ influence will be felt with the special program “A Night in Treme (The Musical Majesty of New Orleans),” based on the HBO series Treme. The show will feature the Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Charlie Gabriel, Christian Scott, Donald Harrison Jr., and James “12” Andrews. Harrison will also appear with his quintet during the festival.

The festival will highlight several Latin jazz artists, including: pianist Alfredo Rodríguez, celebrated percussionist Poncho Sanchez’s Chano y Dizzy (with Blanchard), pianist/composer/educator Arturo O’Farrill’s Septet with special guest Donald Harrison Jr., trumpeter Jerry Gonzalez y Los Comandos de la Clave, and trombonist Papo Vazquez’ Pirates Troubadours.

For more information visit Detroit Jazz Fest.