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Essential Jazz Festival Shows

By Gary Graff
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

A dozen things not to miss at this year’s Detroit

International Jazz Festival:

• Hank Jones: The Pontiac-raised pianist, a veteran of the inaugural Montreux-Detroit festival, returns with a trio to represent his late brothers Thad and Elvin at a weekend partly dedicated to the three of them. (4:30 p.m. Sept. 4 in the Pepsi Jazz Talk Tent; 7 p.m. on the Chase Main Stage)

• Corea, Clarke & White: The return of Return to Forever last summer was a sublime surprise. This acoustic gathering of three-quarters of the group isn’t too shabby, either. (8:45 p.m. Sept. 4, Chase Main Stage).

• Gretchen Parlato Band: The singer from Los Angeles was the first vocalist accepted into the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance and studied with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Terence Blanchard and other all-stars. It shows on her recently released “In a Dream.” (5 p.m. Sept. 5, Pyramid Stage)

• Stax in the House: This may be Motown, but a couple of luminaries from the other dominant ‘60s soul label will groove at the DJF. Irma Thomas, known as the Soul Queen of New Orleans, leads her band the Professionals at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 5 on the Chase Main Stage, while MGs leader Booker T. plays material from his new solo album “Potato Hole” and other favorites at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 on the Chase Main Stage.

• Marcus Belgrave All-Star Quintet: You can never go wrong with trumpeter Belgrave, one of Detroit’s genuine jazz jewels. His allstars including Geri Allen on piano, Bob Hurst on bass, Corey Wilcox on trombone and Karriem Riggins on drums. (2:45 p.m. Saturday, Carhartt Amphitheatre)

• Gerald Wilson Orchestra: The bandleader and composer debuts his new “Detroit” suite at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 6 in the Carhartt Amphitheatre — two days after he turns 91.

• Love That Latin (Jazz): Percolating polyrhythms will bring a little fire to this year’s DJF. Former Santana member (and Sheila E.’s father) Pete Escovedo mixes it up with his Latin Jazz Orch estra — featuring oldest offspring Juan — at 9 p.m. Sept. 6 on the Chase Main Stage. Cuban pianist Chuchito Valdes, son of Chucho and grandson of Bebo, shows his touch for the family business with his quartet at 5:45 p.m. Sept. 7 on the Pyramid Stage.

• Donald Byrd’s A New Perspective: Festival sponsor Mack Avenue Records showcases some of its artists — including Rodney Whitaker, Sean Jones and Ron Blake — in this recreation of Detroit native Byrd’s landmark 1963 recording. (2:30 p.m. Sept. 7, Chase Main Stage)

• Bottoms Up: One of the more interesting opportunities to catch DJF Artist in Residence John Clayton finds him recreating the “Super Bass” project with his teacher, Ray Brown, and fellow pupil (and 2008 Artist in Residence) Christian McBride. (4:15 p.m. Sept. 7, Pyramid Stage)

• Clayton Brothers Quintet and Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra: The West Coast siblings and the Detroit ensemble team up to close the festival with the offi cial premiere of “T.H.E. Family, Detroit,” artist-in-residence John Clayton’s commissioned concerto grosso dedicated to the Jones brothers.

The 30th annual Detroit International Jazz Festival runs Friday through Monday (Sept. 4-7) from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. Admission is free. Visit www.detroitjazzfest.com.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.com

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