LOOKING BACK AND LOOKING FORWARD
Every year I think that the new jazz year starts with the Tuesday following Labor Day. The previous jazz year wraps up as I walk out of Hart Plaza, turn around and regretfully say goodbye to the Detroit Jazz Festival. Although this year the threat of a serious thunder storm ended the festival prematurely at 5PM, this year’s festival was one of the most successful according to the official international smile meter.
The festival is appropriately held on Labor Day weekend. However, metropolitan Detroit doesn’t take that weekend off. Everyone has a venue to go to and they are all terrific. There is little reason to go out of town, with the absolute jewel being the Detroit Jazz Festival, where our community puts its soul on display. Every year we show off what we do best, exposing the roots of our music, pain, shame, joy, resilience, cleverness and a lot of kindness. For some reason the 2017 festival added some extra zest to its jazz. It seems as though we always get more than the planners planned . There was again something palpably hopeful in the air. The crowd got it and showed their appreciation. The musicians caught the fans’ vibes and used them. The fans knew that something beautiful was going on.
During a lot of the sets something happens that makes this festival unique. The crowd sitting on hard concrete seats become one with musicians sitting in their more comfortable chairs. They start to move together, everyone swaying, clapping with subtle foot taps all of this movement synced to the music. I am often aware of the powerful connection between the artists and a Detroit audience.
There is something special when we find beauty in familiar and unexpected places, like the flowers that insist on coming up in the cracks in our sidewalks. Thank you to all the great musicians for coming back and reminding us why you do come back. Thanks to all the staff and the volunteers who are often too busy to enjoy their own efforts.
Hopefully some city planners might have wandered in amidst this four day event held right in the middle of downtown. This is an event which takes the assets that exist in the city and shares these assets among a diverse and deserving following. Downtown Detroit glows with mutual respect. The planners will see examples of renewal happening stage after stage and bands taking a solid foundation and building on it. It’s a pretty good model for our future growth.
After the crew from the Dirty Dog wraps up the tent at the Detroit Jazz Festival on Monday, they will go back to work making the coming jazz year the best jazz year ever.
THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG
SEPTEMBER 6 – SEPTEMBER 9
THE DETROIT TENORS
There will jazz at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café following the festival. It is fitting that Steve Wood and Carl Cafagna, a couple of Detroit’s finest artists, will kick off this new year of Detroit jazz at the Dirty Dog.
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