Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Macy Gray and David Murray

 At the Detroit Athletic Club Tuesday afternoon, organizers of the Detroit Jazz Festival announced the 2013 lineup. It was an important conference more so than previous years. It’s Chris Collins’ second year as the festival’s artistic director. Many in attendance were anxious to see if Collins had top the lineup he put together in 2012. Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, Pat Metheny, and Kenny Garrett were some of the national headliners Collins booked last year.

The 2012 festival was a test for Collins, marking his debut at the helm of an internationally recognized music festival. Collins surpassed expectations, serving up a pure downhome jazz festival many longtime DJF supporters felt was the best in its history. 

According to many DJF goers, Collins returned the festival to its pure jazz roots, and included more Detroit jazz musicians. For many years, a contingent of Detroit jazz musicians felt they had been unfairly excluded from the festival. The criticism was how can you have a festival based in Detroit and have an inadequate representation of hometown musicians.

Judging from the mix of legends and young lions and the various jazz genres in this year’s lineup, Collins’ goal was for 2013 to be more inclusive. Grammy winner and Mack Avenue recording star pianist Danilo Perez is the 2013 DFJ artist-in-residence.

Perez is  a graduate of Berklee College of Music. As a bandleader, he's released some prime cut jazz albums dating back to his debut “Panama Monk,” As a sideman, he's held the piano chair in bands led by Dizzy Gillespie and Wayne Shorter. Perez spoke passionately at the press conference about how jazz could bridge social and political gaps while being a boon for public school education. 

Detroit’s mayor Dave Bing was on hand, and Perez put him on the spot, asking the mayor to consider making jazz a part of the public schools. Then Perez pledged to support the DJF in any capacity asked of him. 

The Opening night of the festival, Perez premieres his new work for Mack Avenue Records “Panama 500”. Saxophonist David Murray follows with special guest vocalist Macy Gray. Other national headliners performing are Charles Lloyd, Joshua Redmond, Ahmad Jamal, John Scofield, Shelia Jordan, McCoy Tyner, Ravi Coltrane, and Freddie Cole. 

There’re also sets by top young lions Cecile McLorin Salvant, Aaron Diehl, Gregory Porter, JD Allen, and Robert Glasper. The weekend would be incomplete without a handful of tribute acts. There're salutes to Pepper Adams, Miles Davis Dave Brubeck, Detroit Teddy Harris, and Don Byas.

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