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Detroit Jazz Fest Reveals First Performers

of the Oakland Press

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Mississippi-born pianist Mulgrew Miller will be the Artist in Residence at this year's 31st Annual Detroit International Jazz Festival, which takes place Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit.

Others slated to appear at the free festival -- which this year has been themed Flame Keepers -- Carrying the Torch for Modern Jazz -- include saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, conductor/composer Maria Schneider and drummer Roy Haynes. The full lineup will be announced during Jazz Appreciation Month in April.

This year's festival will honor jazz giants Art Blakey, Ray Brown, Miles Davis, Horace Silver, Betty Carter, Lester Bowie and Gil Evans.

Miller, who began studying classical piano at age eight and lists more than 400 recordings as both a bandleader and a sideman, will perform with his own group. WINGSPAN, as well as in several additional collaborations during the festival.

Blanchard, meanwhile, will perform March 12 with the Wayne State University Big Band at the Music Box in the Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Other pre-festival programs are being planned for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit School of Arts.

Festival financier and Carhartt Clothing Company heiress Gretchen Carhartt Valade has also created a Gretchen's Challenge funding initiative in which she'll match 50 percent of all contributions to the festival up to $250,000. Festival organizers have set a goal of 400 supporting members for 2010 in addition to corporate sponsorships.

Information about the festival can be found at www.detroitjazzfest.com.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.com

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