2016 DETROIT JAZZ FEST
For 37 years I have seldom missed a Detroit Jazz Festival. I am a proud REGULAR. I have many reasons to not want to miss this unique Detroit event. One reason is that it is free. It is also close by. Then there is the music and food, which are terrific. But it is the chance to be around the many others like myself who tend to be proud of their town that brings me back time after time. These are the regulars. They can be counted on to know the music and a lot of the musicians. They know why they are there. These are the the familiar faces whom I want to walk up to and say hi. I don’t know their names, but that doesn’t matter. They are friends.
This magical Detroit Festival is a magnet for so many pure jazz fans from Detroit and in growing numbers folks from other places. The world’s largest free jazz festival through the years has attracted many guests to the city who regularly plan their end of summer weekend to be part of our festival. Their presence is a big salute to those who work so hard to keep the festival at such a high level.
Perhaps my most memorable moment at the 2016 Festival was a brief conversation with a brand new friend before Dave McMurray began his set to end the day at the Pyramid stage. I was talking to my son Bill who played in the Detroit Jazz Festival at the age of 15 . I mentioned to him the possibility that David’s sidemen would be two of my favorites, Ibrahim Jones on bass and Jeff Canady on drums. This began an extended back and forth conversation about music and Detroit musicians that left me in the dust. Our new acquaintance and Bill really knew their stuff. They are the regulars who have shaped the festival for so many years. Musicians know they are out there, and they will have to be at their very best. Ibrahim and Jeff did join David to provide enough energy and joy to keep an army of regulars satisfied. Whoops and loud cheers drifted out from the Pyramid into the shipping lanes of the Detroit river.
A SUPER REGULAR
TOM ROBINSON and GRETCHEN VALADE
Two of the regulars are Detroit’s grand champion, Gretchen Valade and her cohort, Tom Robinson.
Her touch is seen in all those things that work so well at the Detroit Jazz Festival. Her vision will always be on display during the four festive days. Every note will reflect her passion, integrity and vitality.
Tom has quietly been doing what is necessary to keep the Festival on an even keel. Both are essential regulars.
GERALD WILSON and Wynton Marsalis at the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival
When one is very good at something they appreciate more intensely the gifts of others. The festival brings together so many accomplished musicians with different stories to tell and ways of telling them. This community of like spirits gathers annually to celebrate the music and good fellowship. This year there were, once again, a lot of hugs given out.
I am proud to be a regular at the Festival and remain in awe of the musicians whose vitality gives me inspiration. What a festival!