Aug. 28--Long before Chrysler adopted "Imported from Detroit" as its marketing tag, Detroit was already the living embodiment of the slogan when it comes to jazz. The city has always been a hotbed for the music, one of the prime feeders of talent to the national scene and home to some of the hippest audiences in the country.
So it's entirely fitting that the 34th annual Detroit Jazz Festival, which runs Friday through Monday, has borrowed the "Imported from Detroit" moniker. With about 80 groups on the bill, including dozens of leading national figures -- many with strong Detroit ties -- plus locally based musicians and school bands, the 2013 festival is a constant reminder that Detroit remains hallowed ground in jazz.
The music will unfold on four downtown stages stretching from Hart Plaza to Cadillac Square. The Detroit festival is the largest entirely free festival in the world.
Among the headliners are pianist and artist-in-residence Danilo Perez; pianists McCoy Tyner, Bill Charlap, Ahmad Jamal, Richie Beirach and Robert Glasper; saxophonists Lee Kontiz, Ravi Coltrane, Charles Lloyd, Dave Liebman and David Murray; guitarists Bill Frisell and John Scofield; singer Macy Gray, and the bands Quest and the Cookers. Detroit-bred stars include pianist Geri Allen, bassists Rodney Whitaker and Bob Hurst, saxophonists James Carter and JD Allen, drummer Karriem Riggins, singer Sheila Jordan and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.
-- Notebook: Jazz festival
Under second-year artistic director Chris Collins, the 2013 festival celebrates the core of the jazz tradition broadly defined, honors Detroit's legacy past and present, and deepens the festival's role as a curator by commissioning new works and creating initiatives that frame history in a new light.
So, for example, there are four events that honor the late icon Dave Brubeck, including rare performances of his musical "The Real Ambassadors" and "Mass: To Hope." On another front, the festival and Mack Avenue Records have commissioned New York arranger David Berger to write a book of big band charts for the exceptional young vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant.
(Mack Avenue owner Gretchen Valade is the festival's primary benefactor and chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation that produces the event.)
There's a sweeping stylistic diversity on display from Ellington big band rarities and the swinging mainstream to challenging post-bop and fusions of jazz and hip-hop. Not everything that's happening in jazz is represented, but a lot of it is. For Labor Day weekend at least, Detroit will stake its claim as the center of the jazz universe.
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