Archive for September, 2010

Detroit Jazz Festival 2010

September 25, 2010


These giant “Gaudi puppets” are from the Cleveland Museum of Art.   


I really loved the Detroit Jazz Festival this year.  I missed Friday night.  Instead, I went by my art exhibit.  Then I saw Salim Washington sit in with the Planet D Nonet on the east side.   

Saturday, I caught part of the Brad Felt Nu Quartet Plus (very good).  Then, also on the Pyramid stage, was Salim Washington and the Harlem Arts Ensemble.  It included special guests such as Detroiter Akunda Hollis on congas (I remember his work going back to the late 1970’s).  That was an excellent set, I thought.  I loved it.  This grouping was an octet including guitar, violin and rhythm section.  Washington played various instruments and  Kuumba Frank Lacy played trombone and more.   

Salim Washington & The Harlem Arts Ensemble

Then, over at the Waterfront stage I caught most of “Hot Pepper”, a tribute to baritone sax player Pepper Adams with Barry Harris and Gary Smulyan.  I’ve often caught Harris’ annual year-end holiday shows.  It’s always a joy to catch a set from one of original bebop pianists.    

It turned out to be a pretty cool to cold evening.  I caught some of Terrence Blanchard’s set.  Then, it was back to the Waterfront stage for Mulgrew Miller & Wingspan.  Both sets were enjoyable.   

I took off and as I left, I saw they’d started a fireworks display.  After I got off my bus, at the Art Institute, I could still see the fireworks downtown.   

The end of the set for the Maria Schneider Orchestra

Sunday, I got down there just in time for the Maria Schneider Orchestra.  I really  loved that too.  There were some scorching solos and some sweet ones. Maria Schneider’s the composer, arranger and conductor.   She worked with Gil Evans and her work has an impressionistic quality.  

I caught parts of other acts including piano duets from Kenny Barron and Mulgrew Miller.  Soon though, it was back to the Pyramid stage for one of the most experimental groups of the festival.  Trio M is an improvisational “leaderless trio” in ways. It features Myra Melford on piano, Mark Dresser on bass and Matt Wilson on drums.  Melford is especially impressive.  She plays the piano percussively, even using her fists at times. 

I caught some of the “jazz talk” programs over the weekend.  I didn’t get to as much of that as I’d hoped but what I caught was well worthwhile.

For the rest of the evening, I went around sampling various bands.  I’d usually just stay for a few numbers.  My friend James O’Donnell (on trumpet) was part of the group LL7.  Bassist Robert Hurst’s quartet included  Mulgrew Miller on piano, Bennie Maupin on woodwinds and  Karriem Riggins on drums.   

I really enjoyed the tribute to Ray Brown too.  This included bassist Christian McBride, pianist Benny Green and again, Riggins on drums.  They did some of Brown’s arrangements and compositions. 

Tribute to Ray Brown

There’s always been a problem with the loud music on one stage overwhelming the quiet music on another stage.  The late pianist Tommy Flanagan’s final festival performance was a noteworthy example of this.  It must have been in 2000 or 2001.  His quieter ballads were completely drowned out by electric guitars and other loud sounds from the biggest stage. 

The Tierney Sutton Band made use of this.  Singer Sutton and her pianist  Christian Jacob actually tried to respond to and improvise with some of the music from the other stage!   I just happened to catch  this.  The night was like that, wandering and digging “the feast.” 

For the finale, I crossed Jefferson and caught the last part of the Mambo Legends Orchestra.  They were also swinging and were a lot of fun.  There were people dancing.  The audience was really into it. 

The Mambo Legends Orchestra

Monday, Labor Day, I got down in time for about half of drummer Roy Haynes set (shame on me for being late.  I blame the busses).  He sounded great and looked great  He’s a real living legend. 

The weather was cooler again and a bit rainy.  I caught parts of sets by Kurt Elling and Branford Marsalis.  Then, one of the highlights, New Orleans’ Allen Toussaint.  He played and sang a lot of his old hit songs like Lipstick Traces, A Certain Girl, Working in the Coal Mine and many more.  I loved his recent, jazzier record Bright Mississippi.  He did Singin’ the Blues from that.  It was just him and a piano, a great end to the festival. 

Branford Marsalis and band   

Last year’s festival: 

Metro Times Blog:

(this is one post of several)

Salim Washington: 

I’ve been reading this book he co-wrote: 

Barry Harris: 

Maria Schneider: 

A review of an earlier Trio M performance: 

Myra Melford:

Mark Dresser:

Roy Haynes: 

Allen Toussaint: