The Detroit Jazz Festival has been around, under one name or another, for 33 years. And Pat Metheny has missed all of them.
But, the guitarist contends, it's nothing personal. It's more about "when it happens.
"There's a couple festivals like that," says the 19-time Grammy Award winner, who brings his Unity Band quartet to this year's DJF. "Usually the way things have worked out for me is there's a lot of work in the summer that kind of warps up in mid-August, and then there's traditionally this break that happens until early October. I've just kind of followed that general (plan) forever.
"This is kind of the year I'm fixing that. I said, 'Let's shift the whole thing so I'm actually going to be able to tour during the time I keep missing those cool gigs I've never done. And Detroit is the one that's right on top of the list."
Metheny, 58, says he's well aware of the DJF's reputation as an "unbelievable" festival. But he adds that it's not like anyone has to twist his arm to play in the metro area at any time.
"I love Detroit. I've had fantastic experiences there," says Metheny, who will release a movie, "The Orchestrion Project," in October with a soundtrack to follow in January. "There's an unbelievable array of great venues you city seems to have; I can't think of any place on the planet that's got more halls than that, within a few blocks of each other downtown, and then the variety of other things I've done, from playing at Baker's (Keyboard Lounge) to playing those outdoor places in the suburbs.
"It's just a place that's got a lot of great places to play, and the festival is one of them, so I'm really happy to be able to do it, finally."
The Pat Metheny Unity Band performs at 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 2, on the Detroit Jazz Festival's JP Morgan Chase Main Stage near Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit. Admission is free. Visit www.detroitjazzfest.com.
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