Music lovers will gather this weekend in downtown Detroit for the 33rd annual Detroit Jazz Festival, the world's largest free jazz festival.
Festival attendees will see a lineup of world-renowned musicians playing throughout the weekend, including headliners Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Performances kick off at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 with Artist in Residence Terence Blanchard taking the stage, followed by the legendary Sonny Rollins.
"We have an amazing collection of musicians performing this year and there will be a lot of energy downtown over the weekend. We want to bring some of the greatest jazz music out there to the festival, and I think we've accomplished that," said Gretchen Valade, chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation board of directors. "This year really is the culmination of our mission to bring world-class jazz to the heart of Detroit and keep it free for the public."
Three stages will be set up in Hart Plaza, and one in Campus Martius, showcasing a variety of artists to watch at any given time. Performances start as early as noon and end at approximately 10:45 p.m. Aug. 31 through Sept. 3. But the beat doesn't stop when the stages close for the night; Friday through Sunday jam sessions will begin at 10:30 p.m. in the Volt Bar & Lounge in the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, the Festival's official hotel.
In addition to headliners, this year's Festival represents a homecoming for some accomplished names in jazz including former Detroiters Charlie Gabriel of the legendary Preservation Hall Jazz Band, saxophonist Charles McPherson who started his career with Charles Mingus and trombonist Curtis Fuller known for his work with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Also, current local musicians will be prominently featured, including bassists Rodney Whitaker and Marion Hayden, and world-renown trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.
In addition to its annual music festival, the Detroit Jazz Festival works to educate students on the music industry year round by creating concerts, jazz workshops and more designed to help foster the legacy of jazz in Detroit. For example, the Festival continued its partnership with Wayne State University for the J.C. Heard Jazz Week at Wayne program at the end of July. Students that excelled during the week-long program will be among the youth musicians performing over the weekend. In addition, the Festival hosts various free concerts throughout the year as part of the Detroit Jazz Festival Community Series supported by PNC Foundation.
"With Detroit's roots in jazz, we're really investing in our community by helping young, talented musicians open their eyes to the jazz culture," said Chris Collins, artist director for the Detroit Jazz Festival. "We have some outstanding youth joining us in concert this year - not only in the J.C. Heard All-Star Youth Ensemble. The high school bands that will be attending are also phenomenal."
This year, in addition to seeking out top industry performers and enthusiastic young musicians, the Festival launched annual competitions aimed at finding undiscovered artists. Submissions from all over the country were sent in for the national saxophone and arranging competitions. The sax competition resulted in a first place tie after judging by a panel of musicians that included saxophonist Terence Blanchard and Festival artistic director, Chris Collins. Winners Danny Janklow from Los Angeles and Geoff Vidal from Brooklyn, N.Y., received cash prizes and will perform at the Festival. The winner of the arranging competition will be chosen this Wednesday and announced at the Festival.
The Detroit Jazz Festival is the world's largest free jazz festival and for 33 years people from all over the world have been venturing to Detroit to see some of the industry's top musicians perform. The Festival enriches the city center by annually bringing in tens of millions of dollars, boosting the local economy. With the help of the DTE Energy Foundation, the Festival is also making a positive impact by continuing its efforts to promote a green atmosphere through recycling, reducing paper waste and more to minimize its carbon footprint.
This year's Festival has been enhanced due to our new presenting sponsor, the Chrysler brand. In addition to sponsoring, the Chrysler brand will be holding a ride-and-drive throughout the festival to provide attendees the opportunity to test drive the 2012 product lineup. Hosting ride-and-drives and competitions, educating the public and the helping to provide the resources needed to put on a festival of this magnitude would not be possible without the Festival's many sponsors, including the Chrysler brand, JPMorgan Chase, Carhartt, Mack Avenue Records and DTE Energy Foundation.
For more information, the full list of performers and performance times, visit www.detroitjazzfest.com