• Listen: Pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, Detroit Jazz Festival

    September 10, 2009. Posted by David Tallacksen.

    The young pianist Alfredo Rodriguez was detained while trying to defect to the US from his native Cuba. He just wanted to play music, he pleaded with his guards. They sympathized, and Rodriguez was on his way. At the Detroit Jazz Festival, Rodriguez played a powerful set that swung from showing his technical prowess to a more tender, quiet side. We only had time to feature a short excerpt on our broadcast show, but here you can listen to the entire performance:

  • 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