For over 40 years, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation has celebrated Detroit’s rich history of jazz music by providing year-round concerts and educational programming, and of course, organizing the world’s largest free jazz festival, featuring world-class talent, over Labor Day weekend. This year, after two successful years of live streaming the Detroit International Jazz Festival is back in person at Hart Plaza and we’ve got the full lineup of performances right here.
After two years of live streaming, the festival is jazzed to be back with in-person performances. A whopping 1 million people viewed the live stream, and the following year that number doubled. Livestreaming has broadened the festival’s reach; still, nothing compares to experiencing it live. Beginning Sept. 2, the festival returns to its in-person roots, though it will also double down on live streaming. People can again hit Campus Martius and Hart Plaza to experience top-tier jazz artists, but Collins says they are also offering free admission to the world in real-time on all four stages via the festival’s website, YouTube channel, and Facebook page.
With the support of corporate sponsors, philanthropic organizations, individual donors and volunteers — the Detroit Jazz Festival is free to music fans looking to revel in the artistry and improvisation of jazz legends, rising stars, legacy and homecoming artists. This year’s lineup of more than 60 performances as remarkable and diverse as the genre itself, as well as spontaneous late-night jam sessions, offers something for everyone.
“There’s no charge, there’s no subscription fee or anything … We wanted this to be a gift to everybody and an extension of the free jazz for everybody. Everybody should have access to this music.”Chris Collins, Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation’s president and artistic director
Detroit Jazz Festival History
The Detroit International Jazz Festival was founded in 1980 by Robert McCabe and the Detroit Renaissance. Along with the Detroit Grand Prix and the International Freedom Festival, the Festival was intended to bring people into the city and provide all segments of the population with world-class entertainment.
From 1980 to 1991, the Festival flourished through a partnership with the highly regarded international jazz festival in Montreux, Switzerland. In 1991, the Festival merged with Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, where it resided until September 2005.
What to Expect This Year
Chucho Valdés, Cuban pianist and Afro-Cuban influencer in Afro-Cuban jazz, is acting artist-in-residence for the festival this year and on opening night, will premiere a new work “Creation,” with the Yoruban Orchestra, Hilario Duràn, and John Beasley.
More festival headliners include Detroit-native vocalist Dianne Reeves, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant, the Bill Frisell Trio, trumpeter Theo Croker, and the Ulysses Owens Jr. Big Band with special guest Marquis Hill.
The festival is also continuing its homecoming series, which brings longtime artists from the city back to their roots to perform. Some of the homecoming series artists include saxophonist Charles McPherson, saxophonist JD Allen, and Reeves.