[JPL] Review of the Detroit Jazz Fest 2007

Bobby Jackson ftapache1 at sbcglobal.net
Thu Sep 6 00:23:13 EDT 2007

It truly was memorable Dr.  and thanks for sharing this article.  Great to 
see you Brad and Veronica, Linda, Dwayne and other JPLer's!  Let's do it 
again next year.  Hey Dr!  That Clevelander ,
Ms. Terri Pontremoli rocked your city!!!!!  We are all better for it!

Bobby Jackson
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dr. Jazz" <drjazz at drjazz.com>
To: "Jazz Programmers Mailing List" <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2007 10:47 PM
Subject: [JPL] Review of the Detroit Jazz Fest 2007

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> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
>          Return to jazz roots makes 2007 fest one of the best
> September 4, 2007
> There are many reasons why the 28th annual Detroit International Jazz 
> Festival was the most inspired since the event expanded its footprint into 
> the downtown core in 2005. In fact, with the possible exception of 1999, 
> this year's festival, which closed Monday, was the most memorable in my 12 
> years in Detroit.
> More than anything else, it came down to this: Organizers put their faith 
> back into jazz and fresh programming ideas -- not crossover styles, R&B, 
> zydeco or the same-old, same-old names and formulas. There was a 
> substantial theme: the Rumble in the Great Lakes between Detroit and 
> Chicago musicians. And Detroit-born violinist Regina Carter appeared three 
> times as the festival's first artist in residence.
> There were real-deal jazz stars on the bill like Herbie Hancock, 
> progressive warriors like trumpeter Charles Tolliver and hip beboppers 
> like pianist Bill Charlap's trio. More former Detroiters were on hand than 
> usual, including multi-reedman Yusef Lateef, ageless at 86, who even 
> played the blues Monday night on oboe. For the first time in eons, the 
> avant-garde had a place at the table, and the breadth of the Detroit scene 
> was better represented this year, too.
> But the best thing was not just that you kept bumping into brilliant music 
> but how much great stuff you missed.
> On Sunday afternoon, for example, I couldn't hear what I was told was a 
> fine set by guitarist Russell Malone because I was encamped at the 
> amphitheater in front of Tolliver's blazing post-bop big band. That night, 
> Conrad Herwig's Latin Side of Miles, Trane & Wayne -- one of the most 
> compelling bands I heard all weekend -- overlapped at least two other 
> appointment acts, clarinetist-saxophonist Don Byron's Tribute to Junior 
> Walker and the Gerald Wilson Big Band.
> So it was all weekend. Those kind of scheduling frustrations are actually 
> a plus, adding the kind of overstimulation that builds momentum. In years 
> past, a jazz fan could go hours without being moved to cheer; this year, 
> if you blinked you missed something grand. There were some R&B stars in 
> play, among them Mavis Staples and Bettye LaVette on Monday, and there was 
> blues and funk to be heard, but the karma of the festival was better 
> because the balance was right.
> Helped by spectacular weather, attendance appeared to be up sharply. 
> Preliminary reports said concession sales through Sunday were up 40% 
> compared with last year, and the stages were packed more consistently than 
> I can ever remember. Last year's crowds were estimated at 600,000.
> Not all of the new ideas fully blossomed, among them the playful 
> competition between Detroit and Chicago. That was because Chicago's bebop 
> tradition was nowhere to be found and because there wasn't a high-profile 
> evening collaboration of players from both cities.
> Still, there was only one true folly: Organizers relocated the major stage 
> at the beautiful miracle of Campus Martius Park to an ugly side street 
> near Cadillac Square -- something about larger audience capacity and 
> better sight lines in the new space.
> In fact, the resulting shoebox felt more cramped, with inferior sight 
> lines for those stuck in the back, a less attractive view of Detroit's 
> cityscape and sound quality generally inferior to what the park offered.
> *All about the music*
> So why the great leap forward this year? The festival, produced by a 
> recently endowed Jazz Festival Foundation, has new leadership, with 
> Executive Director Terri Pontremoli taking the artistic reins from Frank 
> Malfitano. Jazz fans still owe Malfitano roses for expanding the festival 
> up Woodward and broadening the programming beyond straight-ahead jazz and 
> blues.
> But the pendulum swung too far toward populism under Malfitano, and the 
> jazz programming turned perfunctory, even stale. The opening-night double 
> bill of Carter's quintet and Hancock's quartet at a jam-packed Cadillac 
> Square was a fitting symbol for the new era. The past few festivals used 
> Motown or R&B as a kickoff, but starting with Carter and Hancock gave the 
> event a welcome jolt of the real McCoy, even if Hancock played up the 
> funkier side of his personality.
> Hancock's V8-powered quartet with guitarist Lionel Loueke, electric 
> bassist Nathan East and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta may have been built to 
> boogie, but the great pianist also found lots of room for improvisation in 
> a nearly 2-hour set. The fun was watching him squeeze advanced harmonic 
> and rhythmic concepts into the corners of the music without dampening the 
> grooves.
> As early as Saturday afternoon, there was a feeling in the air that 
> something special was afoot: a reaffirmation of the Detroit festival's 
> historic willingness to embrace all of the tradition without timidity or 
> excessive commercialism.
> Back-to-back sets at the Pyramid Stage by Detroit's Faruq Z. Bey and the 
> Northwoods Improvisers, followed by charismatic percussionist Kahil 
> El'Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble from Chicago, drove a stake through 
> the mistaken notion that a festival audience can't relate to free jazz. 
> El'Zabar's dynamic ensemble, which connected the dots between the African 
> diaspora and earthy open-form improvisation, was a special revelation.
> The healthy afternoon crowd cheered wildly. It was the kind of music that 
> people will carry with them for years, and the same could be said for the 
> 2007 festival as a whole.
> /Contact *MARK STRYKER* at 313-222-6459 or mstryker at freepress.com 
> <http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070904/ENT04/mailto:mstryker@freepress.com>./
> -- 
> Dr. Jazz
> Dr. Jazz Operations
> 24270 Eastwood
> Oak Park, MI  48237
> (248) 542-7888
> http://www.drjazz.com
> SKYPE:  drjazz99
> +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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