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Detroit jazz festival announces Artist in Residence, theme, first performers

of the Oakland Press

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The 2011 Detroit International Jazz Festival will march to the beat of well-credentialed drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, who will be the annual Labor Day Weekend event's fifth Artist in Residence.

The DJF also announced that the theme for its 32nd year will be We Bring The World, as well as an initial group of artists that includes Brazilian vocalist Ivan Lins, bassist Dave Holland, former "Tonight Show" bandleader Kevin Eubanks (who now records for Detroit-based Mack Avenue Records) and pianists Vijay Iyer and Amina Figarova. Singers Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright will also perform "Sing the Truth!," a celebration the music of Miriam Makeba, Odetta Holmes and Abbey Lincoln.

The Pittsburgh-born Watts, 50, has worked with Wynton and Branford Marsalis on all of their Grammy Award-winning albums, George Benson, Harry Connick, Jr., Betty Carter, Michael Brecker, McCoy Tyner, Detroiter Geri Allen and others. He was also part of the "Tonight Show" band and has led his own groups, including the Watts Project and the Jeff "Tain" Watts Quartet. He's a two-time winner of Modern Drummer magazine's Best Drummer prize.

The "Tain" nickname was given to Watts by keyboardist Kenny Kirkland as a play on the word chief-tain.

Watts' first performance as the DJF Artist in Residence will take place Feb. 11 with a program of music from the Civil Rights movement. The free concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History; RSVPs can be made at www.freedom2011.eventbrite.com.

For more information, visit www.detroitjazzfest.com.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.com

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