Detroit Jazz Festival lines up a star billing — for free

MusicEntertainmentArts and CultureJazz (Music Genre)Music IndustryLabor DayPat Metheny

If you love a gratis groove, you may want to hit Motown for Labor Day. Though the Detroit Jazz Festival has concerts year-round, the main event happens over Labor Day weekend, Aug. 31-Sept. 3.

Now in its 33rd year, the Detroit Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival in the world.

"The festival brings national artists together with the core of the Detroit jazz scene," said Chris Collins, festival artistic director and a woodwind player. "Jazz music is one of the most challenging musical art forms in existence. It's an American art form that grew from traditional African elements, the European music standard and the American concept of blues, art and folk music."

Collins is a professional jazz musician and a jazz professor at Wayne State University. After initially performing as a student, he was playing as a professional musician in the festival by 1984.

This year's headliners include Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea and Gary Burton with the Harlem String Quartet. On opening night, artist-in-residence Terence Blanchard will be followed by Sonny Rollins.

"It is a very deep program. Travelers will find that no matter what day they come or what time they come, they'll find headliners throughout the day, every day. For instance, Sound Prints, a new band inspired by the work of Wayne (Shorter), will feature luminaries Dave Douglas and Joe Lovano on Sunday," Collins said.

Visitors can experience everything from fusion to avant-garde, from New York swing bands to mainstream. On Labor Day, a 100-voice choir will perform a double set of Duke Ellington's sacred music, with David Berger from Lincoln Center conducting and Jared Grimes tap dancing.

"The free part is important so young musicians and jazz lovers can come down and see their heroes. I remember the gift it gave to me as a young person," Collins said, "and I want to pass that on."

Detroit Jazz Festival, 313-447-1248 or detroitjazzfest.com.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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