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Detroit Jazz Festival goes global in 32nd year

of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- It's may not be calling itself International anymore, but the Detroit Jazz Festival will have a decidedly global flavor in its 32nd year this Labor Day weekend.

Subtitled "We Bring You the World," this year's edition of the DJF will feature musicians from Africa, Belgium, Brazil, Israel, Japan and the Netherlands. "This will allow us to sample flavors other cultures have brought to our music," Terry Pontremoli, the DJF's executive and artistic director, said at a Tuesday (April 12) luncheon announcing this year's lineup at the Detroit Athletic Club.

The irony is that the worldwide outreach comes the same year the event stopped calling itself the Detroit International Jazz Festival.

"It's part of the new brand," Pontremoli said of the name change. "We've gotten very used to saying Detroit Jazz Fest. [cq] Detroit International Jazz Festival is a mouthful, so we changed it. There's not a lot of intrigue there."

Festival officials announced more than three dozen performances on Tuesday, which will take place Sept. 2-5 on stages in Detroit's Hart Plaza and along Woodward Avenue up to Campus Martius Park. Drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, DJF's previously announced Artist In Residence, will be part of several of the acts, while legends such as Dave Brubeck and Toots Thielemans, both in their 90s, will perform along with upstarts such as 11-year-old blues guitarist "Guitar Ray" Goren. Non-jazz performers include Deadon Jones and his Blues Revue and R&B artists Rahsaan Patterson and Chuck Jackson and the band Mandrill.

The DJF's opening night will feature "Sing the Truth," a tribute to Miriam Makeba, Abbey Lincoln and Odetta performed by Angelique Kidjo, Dianne Reeves and Lizz Wright, accompanied by a band featuring Detroit pianist Geri Allen. Oakland University alumnus Regina Carter will perform with the school's Jazz Ensemble and with her own Reverse Thread. A group of J.C. Heard alumni will pay homage to the late drummer -- who was living in the Detroit area when he passed away in 1988 -- and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra will play a set of big band compositions by previous Artist In Residence Christian McBride.

Many of the DJF's popular features will be returning this year, including the Jazz Talk Tent, after-hours jam sessions at the Detroit Marriott in the Renaissance Center, and the KidBop Stage, while DJF's Jazz Planet will continue its streaming broadcasts from the festival during the weekend.

The full lineup and up-to-date information is available at www.detroitjazzfest.com.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.com

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