The Rundown for Motown’s 2015 Jazz Festival

Story by Mike Stratton
Host of The Vinyl Side of Midnight – Sundays at 9 p.m. on 89.7FM

If you love jazz you might consider taking a trip to Detroit’s Hart Plaza this Labor Day weekend. From Friday, September 4th through Monday, September 7th a cornucopia of jazz styles will spill from 4 stages in the Plaza and up Woodward Street.

Photo by Cahterine Blumer

Pat Metheny plays 2014 Detroit Jazz Festival – Photo by Catherine Blumer

Artist in Residence, guitarist Pat Metheny, will perform in 4 settings – opening night with his quartet, along with special guest, saxist (and Detroiter) Kenny Garrett. He’ll be playing in a reunion setting with vibes virtuoso Gary Burton and also in a duet setting with bassist Ron Carter. And finally, he’ll perform with a jazz orchestra in a tribute to bassist and composer Eberhard Weber to finish up the festival Monday evening.

Speaking of Big Bands, Orchestras and tributes: this festival has plenty – the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band (with a host of clarinet superstars) saluting Benny Goodman on opening night, Carla Bley will lead Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, featuring Steve Swallow and Eddie Daniels will perform a jazz version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with the Detroit Jazz Festival String Orchestra.

If you dig Latin flavors in your jazz, check out Arturo Sandoval, Manuel Valera & Groove Square, Danilo Perez (playing the world premiere of his commissioned Detroit World Suite), Richard Bona: Madekan Cubano and Paquito D’Rivera Quintet are all going to keep the heat up.

Like funk or soul? Monty Alexander’s Harlem-Kingston Express, Carmen Lundy’s vocals, Tuba Skinny, Oliver Lake Organ Quartet or the Jungle Funk Trio might fit the bill for you.

Or maybe you just like straight ahead jazz. The Mack Avenue Superband, Joanne Bracken Quartet, Ron Carter’s Trio, John Scofield & Joe Lovano, Steve Turre (and his Birthday Celebration for long departed Rahsaan Roland Kirk) will play host to another Detroit firebrand, saxist James Carter.

The local Lansing/East Lansing scene will be represented as well: Diego Rivera has a set scheduled, as the Michigan State Jazz Orchestra. And the audience is always populated by plenty of MSU Jazz alums and many jazz fans from the Lansing area make the 90 mile trek. Oh, did I mention that the festival is free?

I’ll be covering the festival in several ways: first a preview program this week on the Vinyl Side of Midnight will play many of the artists mentioned above. I’ll be attending the entire festival, from start to finish, and posting previews and reviews and daily highlights, along with photos by Cathie Blumer, who has also covered the festival for the past few years. You can follow our coverage here at WbLogNZ, LCC Radio’s Facebook and The Vinyl Side of Midnight’s Facebook page.

For more specific information regarding schedules, look at the DJF website.