Festival organizers have announced the complete lineup for the 30th Anniversary of the Detroit International Jazz Festival (DJF), Friday, September 4 through Monday, September 7, in downtown Detroit. Subtitled "Keepin' Up with the Joneses," the 2009 Detroit Jazz Fest will celebrate Thad, Elvin and Hank Jones and other great jazz families, including The Clayton Brothers, the Brubecks, John & Bucky Pizzarelli, Larry & Julian Coryell, the Heath Brothers, Pete & Juan Escovedo, Brian, Karma & Savannah Auger, Detroit's McKinneys, and the Clark Sisters. Homecomings include visits by Sheila Jordan, Geri Allen, Louis Hayes, Charles McPherson, Bennie Maupin, Karriem Riggins and Dee Dee Bridgewater. "It's a combination of a family reunion and special homecoming for Detroit jazz greats," says executive director Terri Pontremoli.
Fans will not want to miss the opening night festivities. Starting with a rare appearance by Hank Jones in the Pepsi Talk Tent at 4:15pm, the festival will "beat the drum" with the Alma College 36-member Percussion Ensemble on the Chase Stage at 4:30pm; look back 30 years through a reunion of the Northwestern High School 1980 Alumni Band on the Meijer Education Stage at 5:30, and move the crowds through a second-line by the Nicky Boy Band and the Cleveland Museum of Art DIVA puppets. Performances by the Hank Jones Trio and Chick Corea's Trio with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White will top off the evening. "We urge the public to come early not only to get a seat, but to witness special presentations and a celebratory opening night video," says Terri Pontremoli.
The festival will premiere two major works on its 30th anniversary: "Detroit" - a six movement work for jazz orchestra by Detroiter Gerald Wilson; and "T H E Family, Detroit," a three-movement work dedicated to Thad, Hank and Elvin Jones, by 2009 artist in residence John Clayton. The "concerto grosso," funded by the Joyce Foundation, will be performed on closing night by the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra and the Clayton Brothers Quintet. "It is thrilling to me that both composers have championed Detroit and its rich jazz legacy through their music," says festival director Terri Pontremoli. "Now that I've heard the pieces, I can't wait to see the audience reaction. They're both awesome and unique."
Two tributes to important Detroit jazz musicians include: A treatment of Detroit trumpeter Donald Byrd's jazz-gospel recording A New Perspective - which also gives a festival nod to Blue Note on their 70th and showcases Mack Avenue artists Sean Jones, Tia Fuller, Ron Blake and Rodney Whitaker. They'll be joined by Perry Hughes, Rick Roe, Chris Kodish, Randy Gelispie, Chris Karlic, and a 16-piece gospel choir. The performance will be a part of the festival's traditional Come Monday gospel programming. Detroit's incomparable Lyman Woodard will also be tributed in a B3 blow out with Chris Codish, Ron English and Leonard King. Debuts include the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra with special guests Janis Siegel, Jimmy Heath and Ron Blake; and the Midwest debut of Bennie Maupin's Dolphyana, with Billy Hart, Jay Hoggard and Nester Torres.
Other one-of-a-kind presentations include a 100th birthday celebration for Benny Goodman by clarinetist extraordinaire Eddie Daniels and the WSU Big Band; Bottoms Up!, a "superbass" performance by John Clayton, Christian McBride and Rodney Whitaker; DJ Pete Rock with Karriem Riggins; and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut as a fourth instrument in Geri Allen's quartet. Outside of jazz, audiences will be treated to appearances by soul queen Irma Thomas, Booker T, Detroit's own gospel sister act, The Clark Sisters, and Motown's very own Contours featuring Sylvester Potts. Emerging artists in 2009 include vocalist Gretchen Parlato (2004 Thelonious Monk award winner); Alfredo Rodriquez, the stellar pianist recently discovered by Quincy Jones; vocalist Sachal Vasadani; and vocalist Jose James, who blew the audience away in 2008 as a special guest in the Marvin Gaye tribute. The Detroit International Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival in North America, and it has become a major tourist attraction.