DETROIT, Mich. – Today, festival organizers announced the lineup for the 32nd annual Detroit Jazz Festival, Friday, Sept. 2 through Monday, Sept. 5, in downtown Detroit.
Subtitled “We Bring You the World,” the Detroit Jazz Festival will celebrate jazz’s influence on the world and the world’s influence on jazz.
“Jazz is America’s most significant artistic export to the world, and it’s fun and interesting to hear the spin that other cultures take on it,” said Terri Pontremoli, executive and artistic director, Detroit Jazz Festival. “While it can be argued that the festival literally brings the world to Detroit year after year, there is a definite international flair in 2011.” Slated are: Amina Figarova from the Netherlands, Luciana Souza, Ivan Lins and Vinicius Cantuaria from Brazil, Toots Thielemans from Belgium, Angelique Kidjo from Benin, Anat Cohen from Israel, Paquito D’Rivera from Cuba, Vertical Engine from Japan and first-generation Indian Americans Vijay Iyer and Sachal Vasandani. The premier jazz ensemble of the United States Air Force, the U.S. Air Force Airmen of Note, will make their first Detroit Jazz Festival appearance since 1997, the Sun Ra Arkestra will take us off the planet momentarily, and some of the best in jazz – Dave Holland Octet, Joe Lovano Us 5, the New Gary Burton Quartet with Julian Lage, Scott Colley & Antonio Sanchez, Steve Wilson and Wilsonian’s Grain, Helen Sung – “Sung with Words” with Carolyn Leonhardt, Tony Monaco Trio, Warren Wolf & WOLFPAC, Sean Jones Quintet, Kevin Eubanks, Anthony Wilson Trio, and Jason Moran & the Bandwagon – will thrill the perennially-hip Detroit jazz audience.
Opening night, Sept. 2, will be a true extravaganza, with “Sing the Truth” featuring Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright honoring the legacies of Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Odetta. This amazing group of vocalists will be joined by Detroit pianist Geri Allen, drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, bassist James Genus and Brazilian guitarist Romero Lubambo. “Sing the Truth” – a special production that honors great women in jazz, folk, r&b, gospel and the blues, is making just three appearances in North America, and only one of those performances, the one in Detroit, is free.
As has been the tradition over the past several years, Detroit’s storied jazz legacy will remain front and center, with violinist Regina Carter’s West African project featuring Malian kora player, Yacouba Sissoko. Trombonist Curtis Fuller will come home with a young and exciting band, and tributes to Detroit’s Goldkette Orchestra (by Josh Dufee & his Orchestra) and J.C. Heard (by a group of Heard alumni led by Walt Symanski) will celebrate Detroit big bands from the 20’s to the 60’s. The Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra will perform the big band music of renowned bassist/composer Christian McBride with special guests. While a few 90-year old legends such as Dave Brubeck and Toots Thielemans will perform their timeless material, new voices such as Champion Fulton and 11-year old blues guitarist Ray Goren, (aka Guitar Ray) will make Detroit Jazz Festival debuts.
As the drum is the original instrument in most cultures, drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts was appointed 2011 Detroit Jazz Festival artist in residence. The dynamic drummer will heat things up on opening night with a star-studded “Drum Club” featuring Joe Locke, Susie Ibarra, Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez and Pedro Martinez. Throughout the weekend, “Tain” will be seen on several stages – with his own band, with Michigan State University’s Jazz Orchestra, and in the Jazz Talk Tent presented by St. John Providence Health System, telling stories and being in the hot seat for DownBeat’s Blindfold Test.
But its not ALL jazz! Come Monday Gospel programming on Labor Day will feature The Steeles, Lowell Pye, and Detroit’s own award-winning gospel choirs S.O.G. and the Second Ebenezer Majestic Voices. The “Ambassador of the Blues,” Deacon Jones, will bring his Blues Revue to Detroit for a festival first. A performance by vocalist Chuck Jackson is a nod to Motown and its fans, and festival-goers will be out of their seats dancing to the Caribbean and urban American blend of one of the world’s pioneering funk groups, Mandrill. Rahsaan Patterson will bring out the R&B crowd, and Richie Goods and Nuclear Fusion will rock it out. Latin night, Sunday, Sept. 4, will feature Sammy Figueroa’s Latin Jazz Explosion and Brazil’s Ivan Lins – music that is sure to bring the crowd to its feet. And via New Orleans, the festival will enjoy a second-line and performance by the Soul Rebels Brass Band. Nightly after-hour jam sessions will be held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the official festival hotel. Last but not least, there will be fireworks on Saturday night.
The Detroit Jazz Festival stays true to its mission of encouraging young talent not only by inviting college and high school ensembles to showcase on the Education Stage, but by giving them opportunities to perform with jazz veterans. This year, the Wayne State University Big Band will perform with Joe Lovano, the Michigan State University Jazz Orchestra with Jeff “Tain” Watts, Northern Illinois Jazz Orchestra with Paquito D’Rivera, Eastern Michigan University Jazz Ensemble with Gary Smulyan, and Oakland University Jazz Ensemble with OU alum Regina Carter. Outstanding Michigan high school jazz ensembles will be showcased, and an expanded KidBop Stage for wee-boppers will include tap, percussion, stories and other fun activities.
The Jazz Talk Tent presented by St. John Providence Health System will be full of laughs and stories, with national artists and writers. There will be instrumental workshops, the DownBeat Blindfold Test, meet-the-artist sessions, Rhythm, Roots and Rhyme poetry slam finals, and explorations on world music and Detroit jazz history.
DJF’s Jazz Planet – a web-based television show featuring interviews with artists and by artists, performances and backstage scoop – will be streamed live from the festival to the world throughout the weekend. The “Planet,” which was funded by a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in 2010, will be located on Hart Plaza, where fans can join the fun as a live studio audience.
Through Detroit Jazz Festival 365, the festival collaborates throughout the year with the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Wayne State University, Detroit Institute of Arts, Michigan State University, The Arts League of Michigan, Cliff Bell’s and area jazz clubs, pleasing Detroit music lovers, showcasing Detroit musicians, and building momentum toward Labor Day weekend. The PNC Foundation has become the official corporate partner of the year-round education and community outreach activities. Information on upcoming events can be found at www.detroitjazzfest.com.
The Detroit Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival in North America. It has become a major tourist attraction, with 23 percent of its audience coming from out of state. It has a significant economic impact on Detroit and showcases the city in its most positive light. The festival receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Erb Family Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. Major corporate partners include Carhartt, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Fiat, and Mack Avenue Records. Additional partners include Absopure Water Company, Ambassador Magazine, AmTech International, Budweiser, Charter One, CJAM 99.1, Comcast Corp., Compuware Corp., Dickinson Wright PLLC, Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, Downbeat Magazine, Fathead®, Fox 2, Great Lakes Fireworks, Hour Detroit Magazine, JazzTimes Magazine, Jazziz Magazine, Metro Times, MGM Grand Detroit, Plante & Moran, Quicken Loans Inc., Telemus Capital Partners, WDET 101.9, WEMU 89.1, WRCJ 90.9 and Yelp. The festival is entering Phase III of its Greening Program made possible by a generous grant from the DTE Energy Foundation. In addition, there is a growing base of individual support. Fans are encouraged to become Rhythm Section members by making donations of any size online in support of the festival’s “KEEP IT FREE” campaign. “We are extremely grateful to have the support of these institutions and individuals,” adds Pontremoli. “They are our life blood.”
Because the Detroit Jazz Festival continues to evolve and grow, it also is adopting a new look this year – from merchandise to signage and the website – everything will have a fresh look and a new logo. Responsible for developing the new brand is Skidmore studios, a Royal Oak, Mich. based creative services studio.
The 3rd Annual Detroit Jazz Festival Cruise aboard the Ovation Yacht is scheduled for June 15, 2011. In keeping with the festival’s world theme, it will feature Latin jazz with Descarga-Ranga.
Additional information, including festival updates and details on ways to support can be found at www.detroitjazzfest.com.