Set List Bonus: 34th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Lisa Goich-Andreadis
"I'm proud to say I'm from Detroit." Trombonist George Bohanon echoed my sentiments during his "Jazz In The Motor City: Past, Present And Future " Jazz Talk Tent event on Sept. 2 during the final day of the 34th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival. Bohanon was one of four panelists who was born and raised on jazz in Detroit, along with saxists James Carter and J.D. Allen and pianist Geri Allen. The panel, which was moderated by jazz writer Kim Heron, marked one of nearly 100 presentations and performances taking place from Aug. 30–Sept. 2 in Detroit's Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza.
As the largest free jazz festival in the world, the event attracted more than 2 million people and took over several city blocks from the Detroit River to downtown with live jazz blowing, swinging and blasting across five stages. Ravi Coltrane, Joe Lovano, the Yellowjackets, and John Scofield were just a few of the giants who graced the stages of the 2013 installment.
GRAMMY winner and Detroit Jazz Festival artist-in-residence Danilo Pérez kicked off the festivities on Aug. 30. The Panamanian-born pianist brought his blend of Pan-American jazz to the main stage with sophisticated pieces, including "Rediscovering The Pacific Ocean." The David Murray Big Band featuring GRAMMY winner Macy Gray followed with songs such as "Stressology" and "Relating To A Psychopath." Her set was shortened due to monsoon rains that washed spectators out of their seats and sent them running for cover into local restaurants and bars. By the time Gray, who was decked out in a purple dress and red boa, sashayed into "Be My Monster Love," the raindrops were making their own rhythms on the steaming pavement.
Similar to jazz itself, attending a festival of this magnitude requires a lot of improvisation. Even though I tried to plan the acts I wanted to see, sounds coming from various stages often drew me in other directions. For example, while GRAMMY-winning guitarist Bill Frisell was exploring the music of the Beatles and John Lennon on the Carhartt Amphitheater Stage with his breezy arrangements of "Across The Universe," "Come Together," "In My Life," and "Give Peace A Chance," the Terell Stafford Quintet and Freddy Cole Quartet were simultaneously filling the air with sounds of trumpets and the Great American Songbook on stages bordering the riverfront.
Noteworthy highlights were performances by two-time GRAMMY nominees Gregory Porter and Ahmad Jamal, and the Mack Avenue Superband, who packed the Carhartt Amphitheater Stage on Aug. 31 with jazz luminaries Kirk Whalum, Carl Allen, Gary Burton, Sean Jones, Warren Wolf, Evan Perri, Aaron Diehl, and Pérez. The Mack Avenue Superband drew a standing ovation during a duet performance of Chick Corea's "Señor Mouse" featuring vibraphonists Wolf and Burton. The following day, Porter made the crowd forget about the sticky temperatures with his cool renditions of "Painted On Canvas," "On My Way To Harlem," Nat Adderley's "Work Song," and his own nod to the 1967 Detroit riots with "1960 What?" It's no surprise that the Huffington Post calls Porter the "brilliant new voice of jazz." Jamal wowed a breathing room-only crowd with his closing performance.
As I passed GRAMMY winner Robert Glasper in the taxi line (he on his way to his performance and I on my way out of town), I wanted to hitch a ride with him instead of leaving my beloved city behind. This festival is unmatched and a testament to the healthy state of music in Detroit.
(Lisa Goich-Andreadis, a Detroit native living in Los Angeles, manages the Jazz & Comedy Fields for The Recording Academy. She's currently working on a memoir titled 14 Days and can be heard as a special guest on "The Mitch Albom Show" on WJR-AM in Detroit. For more information on Lisa and her projects, visit her website at www.lisagoich.com.)