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Branford Marsalis to play at memorial for local music enthusiast, promoter

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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It’s not every music fan that gets a luminary like Branford Marsalis to play at this memorial.

But Wesley “Skip” Norris was no ordinary music fan.

Norris, who spent time programming jazz shows for Detroit’s Music Hall Center, passed away on January 26, and the Memorial Jazz Festival in his name on Friday, June 9, in Detroit will feature Marsalis along with vibraphonist Joe Locke, vocalists Tammy McCann and Jean Baylor, singer-guitarist Nancy Assis, pianist Eric Reed, drummer Marcus Baylor, saxophonist Vincent Gomes, bassist Ralphe Armstrong and drummer Bill Higgins.

“(Norris) was just a good friend, a good dude,” Marsalis says by phone while driving from Washington D.C. to New York. He first met Norris during the mid-90s while Marsalis’ ensemble was playing an outdoor show in Detroit. “He and his friend were making so much damn noise, just cheering and yelling during the solos. While we were on stage we were like, ‘We’ve got to go find those guys. They’re hilarious.

“So we met them after the show and that was it. We stayed in touch. He listened to a lot of music and he was passionate; I didn’t really agree with some of those things, music-wise, but passion goes a long way.”

Proceeds from the concert will go to the college fund for Norris’ daughter Sarah and will be administered by the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, where Norris was a trustee.

If You Go:

• Wesley “Skip” Norris Memorial Jazz Festival

• 8 p.m. Friday, June 9.

• Northest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers Road, Detroit.

• Tickets are $40 general admission, $100 VIP

• Call 313-578-7500.

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