Branford Marsalis, the Manhattan Transfer, Allen Toussaint, Take 6 and Artist in Residence Mulgrew Miller are among the headliners for the 31st Detroit International Jazz Festival, taking place Labor Day Weekend in and between Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park.
The free four-day affair, dubbed Flame Keepers -- Carrying the Torch for Modern Jazz, will also feature alumni from the bands of Miles Davis, Gil Evans, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Betty Carter and Ray Brown, including future stars Marsalis, Miller, Terence Blanchard, Randy Becker, Benny Green and Bobby Watson. Separately and in collaboration, they'll put together a number of special musical presentations for the DJF.
Miller, for instance, will play with the vocal group Take 6 on opening night (Sept. 3), as well as a piano duo show with Kenny Barron, a set with his own band, Wingspan, and a trio performance with Detroiters Bob Hurst and Karriem Riggins. Brecker will join Michael Weiss and his quintet in a homage to Silver, while Green, Christian McBride and Greg Hutchinson will pay tribute to Brown. Maria Schneider's orchestra will give a nod to Evans, and the Hot Club of Detroit will dedicate a set to the 100th birthday of gypsy jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt.
Singer Lalah Hathaway will remember her father, the late R&B vocalist and songwriter Donny Hathaway, along with Robert Randolph and Kirk Whalum. The Pat Bianchi Trio and Mike LeDonee Quartet will join forces for a Saturday night fish fry on Sept. 4, and Ernie Andrews, Louis Hayes, Donald Harrison, Eddie Henderson and Melvin Sparks will be Defenders of the Groove. The Manhattan Transfer's set of Chick Corea material will be performed in conjunction with the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra.
Other artists on tap for the festival include Dominick Farinacci, Jonathan Batiste, Gary Smulyan, Barry Harriss, Kurt Elling, Ernie Watts, Tierney Sutton, Danilo Perez, Tia Fuller, the Freddy Cole Trio, the Scott Kinsey Quartet, the Poogie Bell Band with Victor Bailey and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
The festival will also host a variety of college and high school ensembles from Michigan State University, Wayne State University, the Brubeck Institute and the Berklee School of Music. After-hour jam sessions will be held at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, while the Pepsi Jazz Tent will again host lectures and panel discussions throughout the weekend.
The festival will also present a number of programs around the metro area leading up to Labor Day weekend, including the Detroit Jazz Fest Cruise on Aug. 19.
For more information and updates, visit www.detroitjazzfest.com.
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