Detroit Jazz Fest returns as live event with Artist-in-Residence Chucho Valdés

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Jazz artists from around the world and their fans will be together again as the Detroit Jazz Festival returns in its live and in-person format to downtown Detroit this Labor Day weekend. 

The highlight of this year's event will be a series of performances by the Artist-in-Residence, influential Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés. An inductee of the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame, Valdés has handfuls of Grammy Awards, plus a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences. 

Cuban pianist, composer, and bandleader Chucho Valdés is the Artist-in-Residence at the 2022 Detroit Jazz Festival in September.

Valdés said it's "an honor" to be chosen as Artist-in-Residence and is going to use the opportunity to showcase his latest work.

"It's three movements ... about the creation of the roots of Africa in America," Valdés said this week from a tour stop in Europe. He'll also perform with Detroit native and singer Dianne Reeves and saxophonist Joe Lovano as well as a set with his own quartet. "It's an amazing quartet, it's fantastic." 

Valdés, who celebrated his 80th birthday last fall, is keeping busy with tour dates across the globe. In addition to the Detroit Jazz Festival, he's scheduled for a fest in Switzerland this week and in the Monterey Jazz Festival in September. He says he's motived by his love for music and his desire to always create new things. 

Valdés — who won another Grammy Sunday for the album "Mirror Mirror," a collaboration with Eliane Elias and Chick Corea — performed at the Detroit Jazz Festival in 2017 with the Chucho Valdés Joe Lovano Quintet.

"It's a great festival," he told The Detroit News, adding that he's very happy to be returning in the capacity of Artist-in-Residence. 

More:Bankole Thompson: Detroit's jazz festival a celebration of diversity

Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation president and artistic director Chris Collins highlights the fact that since the event was virtual the past few years, it was able to reach a broader audience. 

A photo of the crowd on Woodward near Congress from the 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival.

“Chucho Valdés’ selection as the 2022 Artist-in-Residence is an immediate reflection of our ongoing international outreach initiatives, profoundly grown global audience during the pandemic, and our ongoing commitment to present jazz artists and performances that showcase the diverse tapestry of jazz including legendary artists and the next generation of jazz leaders,” Collins said in a press release. “

His artistry at the festival, coupled with his monumental career and status as a worldwide leader in Afro-Cuban jazz will make the perfect statement as we transition back into an in-person format with a new perspective.”

Artist-in-Residence honors in recent years include Dee Dee Bridgewater, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter. 

The 2022 Detroit Jazz Festival — said to be the largest free jazz festival in the world — is presented by Rocket Mortgage and will be held in downtown Detroit Sept. 2-5. Additional details will be released later this month. Visit detroitjazzfest.org.

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens