Today, festival organizers announced the lineup for the 30th Anniversary of the Detroit International Jazz Festival, Friday, September 4 through Monday, September 7, in downtown Detroit.
At a challenging time in Detroit, this year's jazz celebration will serve as a reminder of the greatness of Detroit and its musical soul. Subtitled “Keepin' Up with the Joneses, “ the Detroit Jazz Fest will give a nod to Thad, Elvin and Hank Jones, feature other great jazz families, and continue its recognition of the richness of Detroit's jazz history. “In this case, 'keepin' up' means 'living up' to the greatness of Hank, Elvin and Thad Jones - these important musical giants, and their incredible sense of swing, “ says Detroit Jazz Festival executive director, Terri Pontremoli. “In no way is this your typical family reunion!”
First, there are the “family guys”: 91 year-old Hank Jones, the Clayton Brothers, Dave Brubeck & sons, John & Bucky Pizzarelli, Larry & Julian Coryell, the Heath Brothers, Pete & Juan Escovedo, and Brian Auger and his family. Then, there are the “heirs” (musicians who represent strong family traditions): T.S. Monk with a “tentet” performance of Monk on Monk, and Chuchito Valdes - son and grandson of brilliant pianists Chucho and Bebo.
The homecoming of Detroit's greats brings to the stages vocalist Sheila Jordan, known for her heartbreaking ballads and improvisational lyrics; pianist Geri Allen in a quartet featuring tap dancer Maurice Chestnut as an additional “voice” in the band; Louis Hayes (Cannonball Adderley's original drummer) with his Cannonball Legacy Band; Charles McPherson, known for his work with Mingus; the adventurous Bennie Maupin's Dolphyana--a tribute to Eric Dolphy; drummer Karriem Riggins' Virtuoso Experience with Mulgrew Miller and DJ Madlib; Dee Dee Bridgewater (okay Flint, close enough) with the Michigan State University Big Band; and Marcus Belgrave's Allstar Jazz Ensemble--a reunion of his proteges including Bob Hurst, Geri Allen and Karriem Riggins. Last, but certainly not least, the indefatigable Gerald Wilson, conducting his commissioned work for the festival's 30th anniversary.
Add to that a special treatment of Detroit trumpeter Donald Byrd's jazz-gospel recording A New Perspective - which also gives a festival nod to Blue Note on their 70th, and showcases Sean Jones and other artists from the Mack Avenue label, led by Detroit native Rodney Whitaker. The festival will close with a commissioned “concerto grosso” by John Clayton, written for and performed by the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra and the Clayton Brothers Quintet.
The Clayton Brothers will open the performance with material from their CD Brother to Brother, which honors the amazing brother teams of the Burrells, the Heaths and the Adderleys, to name a few. Detroit Jazz Fest and John Clayton were awarded a prestigious grant from the Joyce Foundation for this special project. Out of the four 2009 Joyce grant recipients in the Midwest, the Detroit Jazz Fest was the only music organization to receive the honor.
“Not everything will be Detroit or family-centric,” says Pontremoli. “We're thrilled to have Chick Corea and his fabulous trio with Stanley (Clarke) and Lenny (White) on opening night. And then, of course, there's Wayne Shorter with John Patitucci, Brian Blade and Danilo Perez...it just doesn't get much better than that!” Festival fans will also be treated to a performance by vibraphonist Stefon Harris, and recently signed Mack Avenue artist Christian McBride will make a return appearance with his new quintet, Inside Straight.
Other cool presentations include a 100th birthday celebration for Benny Goodman by clarinetist extraordinaire Eddie Daniels and the WSU Big Band a; Bottoms Up!, a “superbass” performance by John Clayton, Christian McBride and Rodney Whitaker; and a piano tribute to Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jones, Barry Harris and Milt Jackson by pianist Antonio Ciacca. Outside of jazz, audiences will be treated to appearances by Irma Thomas, the soul queen of New Orleans, Detroit's own gospel sister act, The Clark Sisters, and Motown's very own Contours featuring Sylvester Potts.
Rising star artists in 2009 include vocalist Gretchen Parlato (2004 Thelonious Monk award winner); Alfredo Rodriquez, the stellar pianist recently discovered by Quincy Jones; and vocalist Jose James, who blew the audience away last year as a special guest in the Marvin Gaye tribute.
The Detroit International Jazz Festival will continue to encourage young talent not only by inviting college and high school ensembles to showcase, but by giving them opportunities to perform with jazz veterans.
The Wayne State University Big Band will perform the music of Benny Goodman with clarinetist Eddie Daniels and the Michigan State University Big Band will perform the works of John Clayton with Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Other visiting schools include the Berklee (Boston) Jazz Ensemble, North Carolina Central University Jazz Ensemble and the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quartet. Jazz Fest continues its partnership with MSBOA by showcasing outstanding Michigan high school jazz ensembles. And back by popular demand is the KidBop area for the wee-boppers and their parents, with stories, songs and other fun activities.
The Pepsi Jazz Talk Tent will also be full of laughs and stories, with Hank Jones, Christian McBride, Jimmy Heath, Bennie Maupin, Louis Hayes and Sheila Jordan. Topics will range from remembering Cannonball to discussing the genius of Elvin Jones, Eric Dolphy, Donald Byrd, and the special piano trademark of Detroit. The tent will also feature a gallery of historic festival photographs in honor of DJF's 30th anniversary.
“As is always the case with this festival, the musicians will be having wonderful reunions, and the ever-hip and amazing Detroit audience will be joining the family in their uniquely enthusiastic and respectful way.”
The festival has been celebrating its 30th anniversary since February through its series, Another Great Day in Detroit. Through collaborations with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Wayne State University, Detroit Institute of Arts, Midsummer Nights in Midtown, the Guardian Building, the Rowland Cafe, and area jazz clubs, the festival is treating Detroit music lovers, showcasing Detroit musicians, and building momentum toward Labor Day Weekend.
The Detroit International Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival in North America. It has become a major tourist attraction, with 23% of its audience coming from out of state. It has a $90M economic impact on Detroit and showcases the city in its most positive light.
The festival has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs (MCACA), the Joyce Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. Major corporate sponsors include Chase, Carhartt, Absopure, Mack Avenue Records, DTE Energy, Whole Foods, Citizens Bank, Detroit Medical Center, Solaire, Pepsi, Comcast and Fox 2. In addition, there is a growing base of individual support. “We are extremely grateful to have the support of these institutions and individuals, “ adds Pontremoli. “They are our life blood.”
Nightly after-hour jam sessions will be held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the official festival hotel.
New to the festival this year are Phase I of a Greening Program sponsored by DTE Energy and the DJF Maiden Voyage Cruise, presented by Citizens Bank on August 26.