Subtitled â€œFlame Keepers â€“ Carrying the Torch for Modern Jazz,â€ the Detroit Jazz Fest will feature a veritable â€œdean’s listâ€ of alumni who passed through the â€œschoolsâ€ of Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Betty Carter, Ray Brown, Miles Davis and Gil Evans. â€œ2010 artists Mulgrew Miller, Bobby Watson, Branford Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Randy Brecker, and Benny Green were all in Blakey’s band at one time or another,â€ says festival director Terri Pontremoli. â€œThese musicians went on to develop their own bands, explore new territory and nurture a new generation of flame keepers,â€ she added. â€œIn jazz, a lot of press is given to the veterans or to the young lions. I am happy to focus this year on these â€œmiddle menâ€ who are in the peak of their creative and technical powers, making significant music in our time.â€
Bobby Watson will reunite HORIZON with Terell Stafford, Victor Lewis, Edward Simon and Essiet Essiet. Michael Weiss’s quintet will feature Randy Brecker in a tribute to Horace Silver, and Benny Green, along with Christian McBride and Greg Hutchinson will pay homage to Ray Brown. Maria Schneider, a clear disciple of composer/arranger Gil Evans, will bring her entire orchestra to town. In recognition of the 100th birthday of Django Reinhardt, the Hot Club of Detroit will perform. â€œBrownie Speaksâ€ will feature 20-somethings Dominick Farinacci and Jonathan Batiste remembering Clifford Brown. A special tribute to Detroit’s Pepper Adams will feature the great baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan with another Detroit hero, pianist Barry Harris. â€œDefenders of the Grooveâ€ with vocalist Ernie Andrews, Detroit’s Louis Hayes, Donald Harrison, Eddie Henderson, and Melvin Sparks are sure to tear it up. Vocalists this season include Tierney Sutton and Grammy-winner Kurt Elling with special guest Ernie Watts. The Manhattan Transfer will perform some of their recent Chick Corea material and then swing standards with the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra, under the direction of Dennis Wilson.
Other artists include pianist Danilo Perez, saxophonist Tia Fuller, Freddy Cole Trio, Scott Kinsey Quartet, Poogie Bell Band with Victor Bailey, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Newly signed Mack Avenue Records artist Kirk Whalum, joined by Lalah Hathaway and Robert Randolph, will perform the music of Donny Hathaway. Pumping the B3 in a Saturday night fish fry will be Pat Bianchi Trio and Mike LeDonne Quartet. The Mambo Legends Orchestra with former members of Tito Puente’s band will get folks out of their seats.
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. In 2010, the festival has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Erb Foundation and the Kresge Foundation. Major corporate sponsors include Chase, Carhartt, Absopure, Mack Avenue Records, DTE Energy, Meijer, Budweiser, Pepsi, Comcast and Fox 2. In addition, there is a growing base of individual support. Fans are encouraged to become Rhythm Section members by making donations of any size on line over the next few months, as philanthropist Gretchen Valade will match any gift by 50% to help sustain the festival as a free event. â€œWe are extremely grateful to have the support of these institutions and individuals,â€ adds Pontremoli. â€œThey are our life blood.â€
Nightly after-hour jam sessions will be held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the official festival hotel.
For more information, including festival updates and details on how you can help â€œCarry the Torchâ€, visit www.detroitjazzfest.com.