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Detroit Jazz Fest announces lineup for virtual event

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

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This year's Detroit Jazz Festival, switched to a virtual event for 2020, will, as promised, be focusing on homegrown talent — but with some guests from out of town, too.

The 33-act event will take place during Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-7, with live performances streaming from ballrooms in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center rather than in front of audiences in Hart Plaza and near Campus Martius Park.

Saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who performs opening night, and keyboardist Robert Glasper, who's slated to close the festival, representing the visiting corps. They'll be joined by a variety of familiar Detroit names, including Marion Hayden and her Detroit Legacy program, Joan Belgrave's Marcus Belgrave Legacy Ensemble, David McMurray, the Rayse Biggs Collective, Robert Hurt's Black Current Jam Band, the Michael Jellick Sextet, Gayelynn McKinney & McKinney Zone, the Rodney Whitaker Septet, Ursula Walker and Buddy Budson and more.

The festival is slated to kick off Sept. 4 with "JUSTICE," an ensemble piece paying tribute to the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis and the continuing battle for equal rights for all.

The sets will be available for free via the DJF Facebook Live and Instagram pages and on Detroit's Channel 22 Arts and Entertainment Channel. Radio stations WCRJ-FM (90.9), WDET-FM (101.9) and and WEMU-FM (89.1) will also simulcast the festival, and the performances will also be carried on the DetroitJazzFest LIVE! app.

In a statement, DJF Artistic Detroit Chris Collins said that despite the pandemic-induced changes, "This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our Detroit talent, our Detroit sound, to the global jazz community. The lineup of Detroit jazz legacy artists, coupled with the up-and-coming generation of jazz revolutionaries, will provide an exciting jazz journey through Detroit's past, present and future."

Full COVID-19 restrictions and protections will be implemented at the three indoor sound stages as well as dressing rooms and rehearsal areas.

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

The full festival lineup includes:

Friday, Sept. 4 (6:15 – 11:45 p.m.)

JUSTICE: Sister Strings: Roots, Voice & Drums, Detroit Jazz Fest All-Stars Generations Band, Michael Jellick Sextet, Robert Hurst presents The Black Current Jam Band

Lulu Fall and the Kris Johnson Group

Pharoah Sanders: Icon

Legacy Artists: Ursula Walker and Buddy Budson

Saturday, Sept. 5 (11:20 a.m. – Midnight)

Tartarsauce Traditional Jazz Band

Alex Harding: Afro Horn

Ron Di Salvo Trio

Dr. Prof. Leonard King Orchestra

Gayelynn McKinney & McKinney Zone

Sabbatical Bob


Rodney Whitaker Septet w/ Vocalist Rockelle Fortin featuring the Music of Count Basie and Billie Holiday

Steve Turre Quintet

Something to Live For – Music of Billy Strayhorn

Sunday, Sept. 6 (11:20 a.m. – Midnight)

Collegiate Combo Competition Winner

Sven Anderson – Doc’s Holiday

The Rayse Biggs Collective

The Dave Bennett Quartet


Sean Dobbins Trio

Sister Strings: Roots, Voice & Drums

Robert Hurst presents The Black Current Jam Band

Walter White Big Band

Michael Jellick Sextet

Monday, Sept. 7 (11:20 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.)

Marion Hayden: Detroit Legacy

David McMurray

Joan Belgrave presents: The Marcus Belgrave Legacy Ensemble

Joey Alexander Trio

The Curtis Taylor Quartet

Call Al

Henry Conerway III

Rene Marie & Experiment in Truth

Robert Glasper

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.org

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