• Listen: Five Hours from the Detroit Jazz Festival

    September 7, 2009. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    Steve Wilson with Christian McBride & Inside Straight
    Steve Wilson playing with Christian McBride & Inside Straight

    Ted Nash (from the 2008 Detroit Jazz Festival):

    The Brubeck Brothers, and Alfredo Rodriguez:

    Dee Dee Bridgewater, and the Carl Allen/Rodney Whitaker Project:

    Juilliard Jazz Quartet, and Bennie Maupin's Dolphyana:

    Christian Bride and Inside Straight:

    See photos from Detroit.

  • Rhonda's Detroit Journal - Sunday 9.6.09

    September 6, 2009. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.

    We’ve had another beautiful day at the Detroit Jazz Festival. I caught an early afternoon set by the Julliard Jazz Quartet. Even before I reached the stage, I was impressed by what I heard. I thought, “That pianist is very strong.” It turned out to be Donald Vega, a gifted player and composer from Nicaragua. The band began the set with two of his compositions, the energetic “Wake Up” followed by the lilting “Butterfly Waltz”. Then they segued into Monk’s “I Mean You.” Jeremy Biner’s tenor saxophone had shades of Joe Henderson and George Coleman. Bassist Yasushi Nakamura was solid as was drummer, Brian Carter

    Hear for yourself on Monday’s Detroit Jazz Festival Special at 2pm on 88.3FM and online at wbgo.org

    Alfredo Rodriguez

    My next stop was the Mack Avenue Pyramid Stage where pianist Alfredo Rodriguez was giving a solo recital. There was a buzz about Alfredo at the festival, so I was anxious to hear him perform. Playing with the fire and passion of his Cuban homeland, Rodriguez elicited whoops and hollers from his new found fans. Just as handily, he laid a hush over the crowd with an introspective rendition of “Body and Soul.” Rodriguez has been championed by producer Quincy Jones so you can expect to hear a lot more from him in the near future.   Alfredo Rodriguez is also featured on our Labor Day Special.

    One of the memories of the 2009 Detroit International Jazz Festival that I will cherish forever is Gerald Wilson leading his orchestra in the premiere of his suite “Detroit.” The festival commissioned this work to commemorate its 30th anniversary. Gerald Wilson grew up in Detroit and attended Cass Tech High School. He said, “They taught me all I know. I wouldn’t be here today without them.” The suite includes a movement for his alma mater along with tributes to the Detroit River, Belle Isle and Gretchen Valade who is the major benefactor of the festival and the owner of Wilson’s label Mack Avenue Records.

    Wilson clearly has great affection for Detroit. As the orchestra played the soaring melody of the suite’s main theme, he recited these words:


    It’s beautiful… Detroit

    It’s magnificent…Detroit

    Love is here

    Freedom is here

    In this great city of Detroit

  • Rhonda's Detroit Journal - Saturday 9.5.09

    September 6, 2009. Posted by Rhonda Hamilton.

    Day 2 at the Detroit Jazz Festival and the weather once again was absolutely gorgeous. Bright sunshine and a nice breeze coming off of the Detroit River. If you’ve ever doubted that music has a healing power, go to the Detroit Jazz Festival and you will become a believer.

    The longer I’m here, the more I realize what a truly special event this is. As I strolled along the River Walk from the hotel to Hart Plaza, where most of the venues are located, I passed hundreds of smiling faces...jazz fans of all ages who were as eager as I was to hear what wonderful sounds would greet our ears on this glorious September day.

    People here are happy. Even in these depressed economic times, the people of Detroit let go of all their worries during the festival and rejoice in the music. When I arrived at the stage where Dee Dee Bridgewater was about to perform every seat was already occupied and the entire perimeter was packed with people waiting for Ms. Bridgewater. Dee Dee was her usual dynamic, soulful self. She sang, she swung, she scatted. She enchanted and entertained the crowd with her stories and wicked sense of humor. Some of the young members of the Michigan State University Jazz Orchestra were a little nervous about performing with Dee Dee, but they proved to be up to the task and earned Ms. Bridgewater’s praise.

    Hear highlights from Dee Dee’s concert on our Detroit Jazz Festival Special - Labor Day beginning at 2pm on 88.3FM in the New York City area and worldwide right here - wbgo.org. And check out the slide show of Dee Dee performing at the end of this post.

    The night before, I ran into Dee Dee at the Hank Jones concert. She was excited to be back home and re-unite with old friends. She grew up in nearby Flint, and on stage this afternoon, she described herself as a “Flintstone.” That line got a lot of applause from the audience. As for me, I almost started a riot when the first word that came out of my mouth while introducing the Michigan State University ensemble was “university” - as in University of Michigan, rather than "Michigan" for Michigan State. That slip of the tongue drew immediate boos from the crowd, quickly prompting me to correct myself. I'll never make that mistake again!