Labor Day at the Detroit Jazz Festival 2013

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Hart Plaza Fountain, Detroit, MI

The last day of the festival started out poorly for me. I,was about 20 minutes into the drive downtown when I realized I did not have my VIP wristband on my arm. I was in a rush to see the Aaron Diehl Trio. I made the decision to go back and get it. Or course , the wristband was not critical but there are some perks that mean a lot to me. So I raced back home and got the wristband and went on may way downtown again.

I walked very fast from the parking garage to the Absopure stage and got there in time to see the Aaron Diehl Trio. I was able to find a spot and sit down and just enjoy the music. The music I heard started slowly with a bluesy undertone. Aaron Diehl (piano) playing with Warren Wolf (vibes) is a dynamite combination. I didn’t get the names of the sidemen and can just say that even though I only got part of the set, rushing to see it was well worth it.

20130904-102736.jpgAaron Diehl Trio with Warren Wolf

I went over to the VIP desk to get my parking validated. I decided to get lunch since the next group I wanted to see was at the other end of the festival. The food I get with my pass is one of the parts that means a lot to me. I do not care for festival food and the food I get at the VIP tent Is so very good for food that is out in chafing dishes for a bit of time. This time the choices were cornbread, cole slaw, pinto bean salad, Itslian sausage with peppers, chicken with BBQ sauce, macaroni and cheese, a fruit plate, cookies and strawberry shortcake. I took the cornbread, cole slaw, Italian sausage, chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, fruit and strawberry shortcake. Even though the food is much better than the food offered at the food booths, each day there were some misses. Today, the mac ‘n’ cheese tasted like it was made with some cheap cheese product rather than real cheese and I gave it a pass after one bite. All the rest was edible. Even though the strawberry shortcake was edible, the biscuit was not real shortcake and the faux whip cream reminded me of styrofoam. I was ready to go on to the rest of the festival.

I headed up to the JP Morgan Chase stage to see the Robert Glasper Experiment. He was here last year and I heard from some how he “killed it”. I saw it again when he played at a jam session that evening. He was playing with Casey Benjamin(sax, keytar), Mark Colenburg(drums) and Derek Hodge(bass). Wallace Roney(tpt) sat in on one number. There was a long delay because the set up crew was having sound problems that took time to resolve. Glasper seemed to make the assumption that everyone who was there was already a fan of the group. So, none of the songs were announced. He did announce a release of a new album.

At one point, I heard the sax blaring, the drummer banging away, the bass thumping and Glasper bringing order to the chaos. The music is a convergence of jazz, hip hop and electronic. As usual I responded to the driving beat which was provided by the Derek Hodge, the bass player. I can say I really enjoyed some of the music. However, I was disappointed since I did not hear much of Elasper. He spent a lot of time at the back of the stage. Most of what I heard was Casey Benjamin. The last number was a tribute to J Dilla and on that number, they really performed.

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The next act was called Geri Allen(piano) Homecoming and featured Wallace Roney(tpt), Robert Hurst(bass), J.D. Allen(sax), Sheila Jordan(vox), Dave McMurray(sax), Karriem Riggans(drums) and George Bohanan(tbone). All these musicians call their home Detroit and are now living elsewhere. I have heard of all of them in discussions of music in Detroit and this was my opportunity to hear them. George Bohanan restored my belief that a trombone can play jazz. Tow of the number I liked were “Cedars Blues” and “Every Time We Say Goodbye”. They are extraordinary musicians and when they come back for club dates, I would go out to see them any time. The two numbers Sheila Jordan did were “Farewell” and “A Place to Stay”. The second had really funny lyrics and was a great way for me to remember Sheila.

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The last act at the same stage was called Miles Smiles. The musicians were Wallace Roney(tpt), Larry Coryell(gtr), Rick Margitza(sax), Ralphe Armstrong(bass) and Alphonse Mouzon(drums). I was a little disappointed. I think I expected Wallace to be a imitation of Miles Davis. Logically, of course, that was not going to happen. He is a musician in his own right. The sun went down and the temperature dropped precipitously and suddenly I was too cold to enjoy the music especially when the warm bodies next to left due to the cold. After my original disappointment, I did enjoy the music.

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I went home and after dinner went to a jam at the Harbor House. I spent most of my time talking to a jazz fan friend from Toronto. A good end to the festival.

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