DETROIT -- There was not a lot of jazz in what Booker T. Jones and his band played at the Detroit International Jazz Festival on Sunday (Sept. 6). But his 65-minute set on the Chase Main Stage did remind us that the festival could have soul, too.
Jones and company -- who were preceded on Saturday (Sept. 5) by fellow Stax-Volt alumnus Irma Thomas and immediately on Sunday by the tasty R&B of Detroit's Johnny Bassett and his Blues Insurgents -- suffered a bit attendance-wise by butting up against saxophone legend Wayne Shorter's performance in Hart Plaza. But the organist, songwriter, bandleader and occasional singer got into the groove with those who did show up from the outset, starting off with "She Breaks" from his latest album, "Potato Hole," and quickly establishing reminding those who may not have known who he was with "Green Onions," the 1962 hit with Booker T. & the MGs that Jones first wrote when he was 17 years old.
Trading solos with guitarist Troy Gonyea, Jones offered a history lesson of some of his finest and most popular recordings -- singing "Born Under a Bad Sign," which he co-wrote for the late Albert King, and playing stretched out versions of the MGs' "Soul-Limbo," "Melting Pot" and "Hip Hug-Her" (the latter with a rap by drummer Darian Gray) as well as Dominic Frontiere's Western-flavored "Hang 'Em High" and "Time is Tight," which Jones wrote for the 1969 film "Up Tight!"
The set finished with an encore runthrough of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," which Jones also sang and whistled, culminating in an audience whistle-along at the end of the song. It may not have been specifically jazz, but it was just as engaging and a testament to festival's growing creative breadth.
The 30th annual Detroit International Jazz Festival continues through Monday (Sept. 7) between Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. Admission is free. Visit www.detroitjazzfest.com for schedules and information.