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Detroit Jazz Fest Highlights

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Friday September 09, 2016

From Billboard

Detroit Jazz Fest Day 3 Highlights: Jason Moran, John Scofield & More
By: Natalie Weiner

“What I realized this weekend is that jazz is musician’s music,” said Rodney, a security guard at the Detroit Jazz Festival (and recent jazz convert), on Monday (Sept. 5) as the festival drew to a close. “That means it’s not about race — it’s totally multicultural! Everyone’s together.” As the festival saw its final performances, including both local legends and national acts on the front edge of the genre’s evolution, thousands of people from across the city gathered on closed-off streets — for free — to bear out that observation.

Below are a few highlights from the festival’s last day.

3:32 p.m. “Music is a gorgeous bitch,” said singer Charenee Wade over the improvisations of The Mosaic Project, an ensemble led by drummer Terri Lyne Carrington dedicated to the promotion of female jazz musicians. Wade was reciting an apt poem by none other than Duke Ellington — but the performance was hardly just an exercise in reverence for the classics. Fresh, modern (but of course, jazzy) versions of The Beatles’ “Michelle” and Al Green’s “Simply Beautiful” gave the set a pop flair.

4:08 p.m. Even John Scofield, Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana — as pedigreed a jazz trio as you’ll find in 2016 — lightened up to suit the festival’s sunny mood, playing a reggae-inflected, vibe-heavy tune called “Shuffle 7.”

4:45 p.m. Jason Moran brought an extended version of Thelonious Monk’s “Friday The 13th” to his set, throwing the audience for a bit of a loop when he introduced some electronic elements. The breakdown, though, turned the performance groovy and made it even better suited to the home of techno. Naturally, by its conclusion, it had returned to a burnin’, traditional swing.

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And from Day 1 of the festival:

7:55 p.m. Chris Potter and his Underground Orchestra proved the crowd was as into the stuff that was a little bit further out as they would be for Roy Hargrove’s romantic run of standards that followed, as the saxophone stalwart and his band moved through mellow string arrangements to Potter interpolating “God Bless the Child” to an incredible vibraphone and marimba solo from Steve Nelson.

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