Sunday, September 4, 2011


Marshall Allen of the Sun Ra Arkestra
Today was the first full day of music at the Detroit Jazz Festival. I planned to catch Kimmie Horne, the Sun Ra Arkestra, Jason Moran, and Dave Holland. I got a late start. I missed Horne’s set, but I bumped in the Horne and her manager Michael Cash on my way to hear trumpet player Sean Jones. It was the first time Horne hit at the festival in a while. I asked her if she was pleased with her set. She was.

I caught the tail end of Jones’ set. Jones had just called Forgiveness (Release), the closer on his latest album No Need for Words. He took the audience on a rollercoaster. Forgiveness was my favorite song on that album because It was the first time I heard Jones play free jazz. His staff Orrin Evans, Brian Hogans, Luques Curtis and John Davis  threw down. The audience loved it. I wonder if Jones plans to play more free jazz stuff in the future. 

 After Jones’ set, I bumped into photographers Karen Fox and Nina Simone Simms-Bentley. They talked about how different the festival feels this year. It was hotter than hell in August. I think the heat had gotten to them. Before I headed to the VIP section, I chatted with the Detroit Free Press jazz critic Mark Styker, and his wife Candice. Styker told me the University of Michigan Press will published his first book next year. The book (he didn’t tell me the title) is a collection of article he’s written about Detroit jazz musicians. 

 In the VIP section, I asked my friends Marc Arden and Luis Torregrosa—in my book the smartest jazz fans on the planet—to name their favorite acts so far. They said Warren Wolfe & WolfPac, and Derrick Gardner & the Jazz Prophets. I have an extra copy of Wolf’s new album on Mack Avenue records. I promised Marc I would give it to him tomorrow. 

 Then I told Luis that guitar player Bobby Broom disliked my review of his new album Wonderful!, and Broom wrote me nasty note questioning my jazz acumen. Luis got a kick out of that. Luis heard Wonderful!, and agrees with me that it was not a good album. 

 I didn’t eat while in the VIP section. I wanted to save my appetite for the Sun Ra Arkestra set at 7:00pm at the Carhartt Amphitheatre Stage. Fifteen minute before the Arkestra was set to hit the stage it started thundering and lighting something awful. 

The set was delayed 30 minutes. When the rain stopped, the Arkestra, led by sax player Marshall Allen, took the stage. They were decked out in sequined jackets and matching headdress. The thundering and lighting knock out the power. The microphones were dead, and the stage was unlit. That didn’t stop the Arkestra. 

 The horn section paraded around the stage as if nothing was wrong. After the fourth tune, a festival staffer announced another storm was coming. The remaining sets were cancelled. For a moment, I thought a riot was going to break out. A woman yelled out “It’s just water for goodness sake”. The audience wanted the show to go on. A storm ain't enough to scare away diehard jazz fans 

 Tomorrow is another full day of music. Jeff “Tain” Watts, Joe Lovano, Regina Carter, Vijay Ayer, Anta Cohen, and Paquito D’Rivera are scheduled to play.
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