2018 Detroit Jazz Fest lineup boasts diversity

In addition to Artist-in-Residence Chick Corea, an inaugural Resident Ensemble features Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding performing a tribute to the late pianist Geri Allen

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
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  • Artist-in-Residence Chick Corea will perform three times
  • The inaugural Resident Ensemble includes Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding
  • The festival can be livestreamed on a smartphone, tablet or computer for a $10 fee
  • Quicken Loans will return as a presenting sponsor through 2019

The Detroit Jazz Festival, the world’s largest free jazz festival, returns to downtown Detroit on Labor Day weekend with more than 30 performers over four days.

Jazz composer and keyboardist Chick Corea has been announced as this year’s artist-in-residence, and on Wednesday organizers revealed details of a new feature: the Resident Ensemble. The musical group will perform multiple times throughout the 39th annual festival.

Chick Corea will serve as the artist-in-residence at the 39th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival.

The 2018 inaugural Resident Ensemble includes jazz drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding. They will lead three sets in tribute to pianist Geri Allen. The Michigan native was originally meant to be included in this group, but she died in June.

“It’s like bringing the seeds back to the soil of the plant they came from,” said Spalding during a media luncheon Wednesday at the Detroit Athletic Club. “This woman gave us so much. All that she gave us, we’re trying to give a little bit of that back in this space.”

“I think there’s a massive homegoing in a sense,” Carrington said. “The way we’re going to do it with the orchestra, and it’s what she would have wanted. I can see her smiling down. We’re trying to make this as grand as we can ... contributing to her legacy.”

Esperanza Spalding, left, and Terri Lyne Carrington performed Wednesday at a media luncheon for the Detroit Jazz Festival.

The two performed along with artist-in-residence Corea at the luncheon where festival president and artistic director Chris Collins thanked sponsors and announced the lineup.

Corea also will have multiple performances at the festival, appearing with his Akoustic Band, Elektric Band and as a sextet with the Detroit Jazz Festival Symphony Orchestra.

The Detroit Jazz Festival, Corea said, is one of the few festivals going that actually are “jazz festivals.”

“I can’t play a concert anymore without it being a festival — it’s like a marketing plan — it’s called a festival, but this is a truly a festival with the number of musicians and bands and the care with which everyone is invited,” he said. “And the fact that it’s a free festival just makes it really special. There aren’t that many.”

At the luncheon, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said the event brings 350,000 people downtown over three days, and he renewed his commitment to making the festival safe. Organizers said one quarter of the attendees come from out of state.


Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival , gives a thumbs up Wednesday during a media preview luncheon at the Detroit Athletic Club to announce the highlights of the 39th annual event.

Corea said some of the combinations of musicians on stage at Detroit Jazz Fest and the music they perform may never be seen again.

“I’ve never done anything like this, and it might never happen again,” Corea said. “Plus, this piece that we’re going to do on Monday (Sept. 3) ‘Spain for Sextet and Orchestra’ is a very special piece ... it’s for a full symphony orchestra with a sextet, and there will be four out of the five members from the Elektric Band within the sextet.”

“It should be a pretty smokin’ ensemble,” he said.

Two artists will be honored with milestones at this year’s outdoor event. Detroit jazz group Straight Ahead will celebrate 25 years and will perform Sept. 1 with Regina Carter, Marion Hayden, Gayelynn McKinney and Alina Morr.

And the late Freddie Hubbard will be honored Sept. 2 with the Hub-Tones, a group featuring Nicholas Payton, Randy Brecker, David Weiss and Dwight Adams. The jazz trumpeter would have celebrated his 80th birthday on April 7. He died in 2008.

Other headliners will include Ravi Coltrane, Marcus Miller and Joey DeFrancesco.

For jazz fans who can’t make it to Detroit Labor Day weekend, the festival will be livestreamed via a smartphone, tablet or computer for a $10 fee. Register at live.detroitjazzfest.org.

Quicken Loans will return as the presenting sponsor for the Detroit Jazz Festival and will return in 2019.


Twitter: @melodybaetens

Detroit Jazz Festival

Aug. 31-Sept. 3

Downtown Detroit


Aug. 31

Dr. Valade’s Brass Band led by Shannon Powell

Resident Ensemble: Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza

Spalding — Tribute to Geri Allen

Chick Corea Akoustic Band

Sept. 1

Julian Lage Trio

Dr. Lonnie Smith Organ Trio

Detroit Jazz Festival National Instrumental Competition Winner

Tia Fuller

Nicholas Payton — Afro-Caribbean Mixtape

Sasha Masakowski & Art Market

Emmet Cohen Trio

Trio of Oz featuring Omar Hakim and Rachel Z

Chick Corea Elektric Band

Ravi Coltrane’s Universal Consciousness: Melodic Meditations of Alice Coltrane

Sept. 2

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

Harold Lopez-Nussa with Gregorie Maret and Pedrito Martinez

Eddie Daniels Quartet with the Harlem String Quartet

Omar Sosa Quarteto AfroCubano

Karriem Riggins Detroit Generations

Hub-Tones: Freddie Hubbard 80th Birthday Celebration featuring Nicholas Payton, Randy Brecker, David Weiss and Dwight Adams

Chris Dave and the Drumhedz

Resident Ensemble: Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza

Spalding — Tribute to Geri Allen

ASABA Trio — Hirofumi Asaba

Senri Oe

J.C. Heard JazzWeek@Wayne All-Stars

Pat Martino Quintet

Marcus Miller

Sept. 3

Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones

Cecile McLorin Salvant

The Brecker Brothers Band Reunion

Resident Ensemble: Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza

Spalding — Tribute to Geri Allen

Christian Sands Trio

Joey DeFrancesco: Project Freedom

Chick Corea with the Detriot Jazz Festival Symphony Orchestra with conductor Steven Mercurio


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