[JPL] ‘A Love Supreme’ is the theme of 2008 Detroit International Jazz Festival
drjazz at drjazz.com
Thu Aug 21 17:25:25 EDT 2008
Sharing the ‘Love’
‘A Love Supreme’ is the theme of 2008 Detroit International Jazz Festival
By K. Michelle Moran
Arts & Entertainment Editor
DETROIT — Love will be in the air Labor Day weekend, when the Detroit
International Jazz Festival honors the music of the Motor City and
Philadelphia under the banner of “A Love Supreme.”
“I’m using the word ‘love’ (to describe) this (festival) a lot,” said
festival Executive and Artistic Director Terri Pontremoli.
The 29th annual festival — which will take place Aug. 29-Sept. 1 in and
around Hart Plaza — features dozens of jazz stars, including Dianne
Reeves, Gerald Wilson Orchestra with special guest Kenny Burrell, Derek
Trucks Band, Esperanza Spalding, Calvin Cooke, Robin Eubanks and many
more. The artist-in-residence is Philadelphia native Christian McBride,
an acclaimed bass player who’s performing with a number of groups,
including during an opening-night tribute to Motown legend Marvin Gaye.
Pontremoli — who called McBride “one of the pre-eminent bass players in
the world” — expects that particular performance to be especially
memorable, given McBride’s lifelong love of Motown music.
“I love it,” said Gretchen Carhartt Valade of Grosse Pointe Farms, a
member of the festival advisory board and board of trustees, of the
lineup. “Dianne Reeves, and (a ‘Battle of the Big Bands’ featuring) the
Count Basie Orchestra vs. the Gerald Wilson Orchestra — it’s going to be
Besides performances by individual artists, the festival features
one-of-a-kind combinations of talent, such as Ravi Coltrane’s Tribute to
Alice Coltrane featuring Geri Allen, Charlie Hayden, Jack DeJohnette and
Brandee Younger. Ravi is the son of the late Detroit native, harpist and
jazz pianist Alice Coltrane and her husband, late jazz great John Coltrane.
“When you get to create things that are unique and you won’t see
anywhere else, that’s (exciting),” Pontremoli said.
Among the options for hungry jazz fans, Valade’s new restaurant, the
Dirty Dog Jazz Café, will be closed over the Labor Day weekend so that
the chef and staff can serve customers at the festival, where they’ll
have sit-down dining in one of the tents. There are also special
activities and entertainment for the kids, making the festival fun for
the whole family.
For the first time in years, visitors will be able to purchase a
souvenir program with exclusive articles that Pontremoli said also has
blank pages for autograph-seekers. The intimacy of the festival means
visitors often rub elbows with jazz giants.
Many of those same jazz greats spend part of the festival grooming the
next generation of musicians, jamming with and speaking to students.
Pontremoli said the educational component of the festival has grown over
the last several years, as well as becoming a year-round element.
More college, middle and high school bands than ever will be playing.
Local school bands performing on the Jazz Garden Stage include the
Fraser Middle School Jazz Band (2:30-3:15 p.m. Aug. 30), Grosse Pointe
South High School Jazz Band (4:15-5 p.m. Aug. 31), St. Clair Shores’
Lakeshore High School Jazz Band (1-1:45 p.m. Aug. 31) and Kennedy Middle
School Jazz Band (12-12:45 p.m. Aug. 31), Troy’s Boulan Park Middle
School Jazz Band (11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Aug. 30), Utica’s Eppler Middle
School Jazz Band (12:45-1:30 p.m. Aug. 30) and Warren Mott High School
Jazz Band (12-12:45 p.m. Sept. 1).
“The music programs are very good,” Pontremoli said of local schools.
“They’re holding up the tradition well.”
Unlike most jazz festivals of this caliber, the Detroit International
Jazz Festival is free. To keep it that way, organizers have devised new
fundraising efforts, such as a Rhythm Section club that donors can join
to get premium reserved seats and other perks.
The festival has a positive impact on Detroit and the region in general.
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, the event’s honorary chair, said
the festival is expected to draw 753,000 people and generate about $90
million in revenue. Pontremoli said roughly 25 percent of those who
attend come from outside Michigan.
“It’s probably the happiest crowd I’ve ever seen,” Valade said. “It’s
warm, inviting. Everyone gets along with each other; people talk to
complete strangers. It’s just a great time.”
With the city hall scandal giving Detroit unwanted negative national
attention, the festival couldn’t come at a more needed time, since
Pontremoli said festival visitors get to see the city “in its best, most
“Last year, one of my friends from Cleveland came for the first time and
he said, ‘I really think this heals the city every year,’ and I have to
agree,” Pontremoli said. “This year more than any year, the festival is
so important to the city.”
For schedules and more information, visit www.detroitjazzfest.com
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