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Detroit Jazz Fest intends to go on, announces Artist-in-Residence

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Amidst myriad event cancellations due to COVID-19 virus concerns, the Detroit Jazz Festival plans to go on during Labor Day Weekend -- and has named its Artist-in-Residence for 2020

Dee Dee Bridgewater, a two-time Grammy Award-winning singer raised in Flint, will be part of three performances during the four-day festival, taking place Sept. 4-7 in downtown Detroit.

"We're keeping everything on the rails and are real excited about everything and full steam ahead," DJF President and Artistic Director Chris Collins said on Friday, March 13. He did acknowledge that "there may be need for format changes or new protocols" in the current environment but asserted "our first priority is to make sure the Detroit Jazz Festival is a safe and healthy place for everyone -- onstage, off stage and backstage."

The COVID situation did scuttle the DJF's usual luncheon announcement of its other artists on March 23, but Collins said the lineup will still be revealed that day in an adjusted format. "It will done in a very public way that all can participate in and revel in what I believe is a wonderfully different and exciting program, for this year," Collins said.

Bridgewater will be in town that day for an evening performance and festival fundraiser at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grosse Pointe.

Born Denis Garrett in Flint, Bridgewater, 69, moved to Flint with her family at a young age gained an appreciation for jazz from her father Matthew Garrett, a trumpet player and high school teacher. She briefly studied at Michigan State University before transferring to the University of Illinois.

Over the course of her career Bridgewater also won a Tony Award during 1975 as Best Featured Actress in a Musical for "The Wiz" and was the first American to be inducted into France's Haul Conseil de la Francophonie. Bridgewater, 69, also served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and for 23 years hosted National Public Radio's "JazzSet with Dee Dee Bridgewater."

She's released more than 20 albums, including tributes to Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Horace Silver, and has been a guest on recordings by Christian McBride, Stanley Clarke and others.

Bridgewater will open the Festival on Sept. 4 with a female ensemble from the Woodshed Network, a collective she helps to operate. On Sept. 6 she'll perform a duo piece with pianist Bill Charlap, and she'll close the DJF on Sept. 7 fronting an all-female big band.

"She's chosen to do things that are forward-thinking, that are very new," Collins said. "It's going to be new music, great energy." Bridgewater will return to Detroit on other occasions for other programs prior to the festival.

More information and updates will be available via @detroitjazzfest.org.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.org

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