The 39th annual Detroit Jazz Festival was marked by two overriding themes: a sense of musical discovery and a series of unfortunate weather events.
The schedule of performances was a well-balanced smorgasbord of classic jazz and developing talents, running the gamut from the opening notes of Shannon Powell's second line parade Friday night to Untitled Series standout sets from drummer Karriem Riggins and Chris Dave and Drumhedz.
Another highlight was the 25th anniversary reunion of the Detroit all star group Straight Ahead. Seeing Marion Hayden, Gayelynn McKinney and Alina Moore back onstage with violinist Regina Carter was electrifying.
Artist in residence Chick Corea's opening night Akoustic Band set with Dave Weckl and John Patitucci had the audience on its feet. The virtuosity exhibited on that stage was astounding.
Sadly, the threat of weather canceled the much-anticipated Saturday set from Corea's Elektric Band. Inclement weather also affected the schedule for much of the afternoon on Monday, shortening some sets and canceling others.
New this year was the concept of the "Resident Ensemble." On Friday, Sunday and Monday, bassist Esperanza Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington presented the music of Geri Allen in a variety of contexts. It was a fitting tribute to a Detroit pianist, composer, educator and mentor whose spirit and influence will long be felt at this festival.
WEMU staff and alumni were well-represented throughout the festival. WEMU music director emeritus Linda Yohn and I hosted public interviews with artists at the Talk Tent, and Michael Jewett, Daniel Long and I could be found emceeing stages all weekend.
Thanks to all of the WEMU listeners and supporters who cheered at the shows, stopped us to say hello, and drove in with us on the WEMU/Golden Limousine festival shuttles. We're glad you're part of our jazz community.
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