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Obama Visit Forces Jazz Festival Changes

Of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- Improvisation is a hallmark of jazz music, and Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's rally Monday (Sept. 1) at Hart Plaza has made the Detroit International Jazz Festival make a few changes on the fly.

The annual Labor Day weekend festival only has to reschedule one of its performances -- pianist Billy Meyer & Friends' Jazz Digs Labor show, which will move from noon at the Carhartt Amphitheatre to earlier in the morning, around nine or 10 a.m., on the Absopure Waterfront Stage.

Vendors and jazz festival personnel were locked out of Hart Plaza as of midnight Sunday, however, and will not be allowed to resume their operations until after the Obama rally ends about noon. Those with festival credentials, however, will be allowed to enter the plaza at 8 a.m., a half-hour before the general public.

The jazz festival technically "owns" Hart Plaza for the weekend, but festival director Terri Pontremoli said on Sunday (Aug. 31) that there was no question about accommodating Obama's needs.

"We think there's a little poetry in the fact that John Coltrane is one of (Obama's) heroes and here we are celebrating 'Trane this weekend," said Pontremoli. The festival's title, "A Love Supreme," is taken from the late saxophone great's legendary 1965 album.

"We made it clear we have a festival to run and tons of schedules to meet. We're not that flexible, but if everything runs as planned it should all work out."

The rest of the festival's closing day schedule is expected to remain intact.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.com

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