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Interview:
Detroit Jazz Fest seeks "Justice" with opening night wuite
 

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

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Besides simply existing in the wake of this year's COVID-19 pandemic, organizers of the 41st annual Detroit Jazz Festival "wanted to make a strong statement" in the wake of the summer's wave of civil rights protests.



"Justice," which opens the festival at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4, is the result.



The four-movement piece features performances by Sister Strings, the Detroit Jazz Fest All-Stars Generations Band, the Michael Jellick Sextet, Robert Hurst's Black Current Jam Band and Roots, Voice & Drums, delivering a continuous suite that will flow from one soundstage to another at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center hotel.



"I didn't want to just check the box 'OK, we put something on,'" says festival President and Artistic Director Chris Collins. "The year has been fraught with the amplification of truths in our world, our society, our existence whether it's the pandemic or Black Lives Matter and all the things that brought to the surface.



"We've spent a lot of time thinking about it and understanding it and monitoring it. Jazz is a black music, but it welcomes everyone to the party. Not only is it appropriate for us to make a statement, it's our responsibility."



"Justice" comprises music composed especially for the performance, including "Fear and the Fearless" for the Generations Band, which Collins says was inspired by late U.S. Representative and Civil Rights activist John Lewis. "I spent a lot of time trying to understand him through his speeches and writings," Collins says. "I was really moved and struck by the example of someone who lived it. He kept that conversation going and got himself involved in the process so a difference could be made. I wanted to play tribute to that."



"Justice" will be followed by the rest of the festival, which runs through Monday, Sept. 7. Pharoah Sanders' opening night performance will be carried at 9:15 p.m. by Detroit Public Television (WTVS-Channel 56), while the festival also will be broadcast Detroit's Channel 22 arts and culture channel, simulcast via radio stations WDET-FM (101.1), WRCJ-FM (90.9) and WEMU (89.1) and streamed via the Detroit Jazz Festival's Facebook Live and Instagram, as well as on the Detroit Jazz Fest LIVE! app.



Schedules and more information at detroitjazzfest.org.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.org

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