Mark Stryker: Michigan Jazz Festival puts spotlight on local players

published July 21, 2014 | posted by detroit

The summer jazz festival season kicks into full swing this week with the 18th annual Michigan Jazz Festival. An indispensible showcase for the everyday heroes of the Detroit jazz scene, Sunday's free all-day event features more than 150 musicians, including nearly 30 professional acts and six student groups .

The mix includes five big bands, six solo pianists, swing bands, bebop and post-bop groups, vocalists and New Orleans traditionalists. Among the small-group leaders are saxophonists George Benson, Russ Miller and Steve Wood; bassist Paul Keller and pianist Gary Schunk. Johnny Trudell, Walter White and Craig Strain will lead big bands. The solo pianists performing during the day -- Charles Boles, Bob Seeley, Jim David, Terry Lower, Ellen Rowe and Taslimah Bey -- will cover nearly every style of jazz from ragtime foward.

Noon-9:15 p.m. Sunday, VisTaTech Center at Schoolcraft College, 18600 Haggerty (south of 7 Mile), Livonia. Admission is free. 734-462-4403. .

The Detroit Paradise Valley Music Festival makes its maiden voyage Friday-Sunday in the downtown area formerly known as Harmonie Park. The focus is on old-school R&B and funky fusion, with music from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Nighttime headliners are Ronnie Laws, Phil Perry, Howard Hewett and Ralphe Armstrong. Admission is free.

Beyond that, however, plans remain murky. As of Tuesday organizers had yet to release a full schedule of performers, while promising that more than 70 acts will be on the bill. Food vendors are planned as well. The festival takes its name from the former neighborhood in this area that was once the center of African-American commercial and cultural life.

Here's what we know: Headliners: Ralphe Armstrong show featuring Kimmie Horne at 8 p.m. Friday; Howard Hewett at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Ronnie Laws at 9:30 p.m. Saturday; Gospel Fest starring Ortheia Barnes, Gwen Foxx and others noon-3 p.m. Sunday; Gwen and Charles Scales at 7:30 p.m. Sunday; Phil Perry at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The festival will be centered on Randolph Street between Gratiot and Madison. The Detroit Downtown Development Authority is the primary driver of the .

Detroit Free Press - Mark Stryker



Pin It