Getting into the Detroit Jazz Festival 2013

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Transcending statue in honor of Labor, Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI

The 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival was in full swing Saturday, August 31, 2013. The festival is held on Labor Day weekend and this is the 34 th year of the festival. It was a partly cloudy day and it was supposed to get to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The excitement began as I drove downtown. During the festival, I have to take a different route since they close some streets for the festival. I remembered how to dodge all the closures and got to the parking garage easily.

I had been sent the wristbands to get to the ” reserved” seats in the mail. This is my vacation. Although the entire festival is free, I pay to get access to folding chair seats at three stages, a catered meal, free bottled water, and free parking. It is so much easier not having to fight crowds.

As I walked out of the garage, I decided to make my first stop the Tribute to Teddy Harris, Jr. Who was a noted sax player and bandleader from Detroit. As I sat waiting, I saw James Carter(sax), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), David Greene(tpt), John Douglas (tpt), Dwight Adams(tpt), Rayse Biggs(tpt), and Robert Lowe(gtr). At first, the piano did not have a working microphone and it was quickly fixed. All the musicians has a solo at one time or another. My favorite trumpet, Dwight Adams, had several and got me into the spirit of the festival. The moderator did not name any of the songs. This is a pet peeve of mine in the music scene in Detroit. Especially at the DJF since we have visitors from so many countries.

20130901-104645.jpgI walked down Woodward, the main street in Detroit, to get my parking validated and a schedule. I also got a bag of stuff that I will look at later. While waiting in line at VIP, I listened to Bill Charlap and Renee Rosales at the main stage. I had not planned on this particular act. This is an event where I can listen to musicians I have never herd before and possible expand my mind and musical interests. So, I stopped at the top of the arena.

20130901-113434.jpg The two Steinway concert grands faced each other for the duo. One of the songs they played was “Off Minor” by Thelonious Monk. The music was more heady than emotional. Or, my brain was fully engaged with interest and the emotional impact was not the primary interest. After a few numbers, I left to get the catered lunch. I could see the crowd had grown. Some people set up an area and stay here all day.

I went for the food rather early since there have been times when the selection is meager. They seem to have it set up this year so that some people will not treat is as an all you can eat event. The lunch was a buffet lunch with hot rolls, tossed salad, grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese in a basalmic vinegar dressing, a pasta dish, Parmesan chicken with tomato sauce, baked salmon in sauce, oven baked potato spears, a fruit plate and cookies. I did my picking and choosing and got a large plate of food. The baked salmon was so very good, moist and rich. While I was eating I could listen to the main stage.

After eating, I took one of the chairs to set up and look a the main stage from the back. The sound was great and I didn’t have to battle any crowds. I could just relax and enjoy. It was the Mack Avenue Super Band which was a band comprised of a group of musicians on the Mack Avenue jazz label. Although it is a local label, I had not heard some of the musicians. The band members were Carl Allen(dms), Aaron Diehl(piano), Kirk Whalum(sax), Warren Wolf(vibes), Sean Jones(tpt) and Evan Perri(gtr). There were more but, these were the ones I heard. As you may have guessed, there is so much to see that sometimes, I will leave after a while and sample another act. They played “Soul Sister” composed by Warren Wolf. They also played a “Speak to my Heart”. I have to say that hearing Warren Wolf play the vibes may have changed my opinion about vibes. He was outstanding. I have also always liked Aaron Diehl and he did not disappoint. He has such engaging chord progressions and plays with an emotional intensity that I get caught up in his music completely.

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