by W. Kim Heron
First, there’s the artist in residence, pianist Mulgrew Miller. The AIR designation guarantees that like John Clayton, Christian McBride and Regina Carter before him, Miller will hit Detroit for some special events leading up to the festival, in addition to a number of special shows during the festival over the Labor Day weekend (Sept. 3-6). The former Art Blakey, Betty Carter and Woody Shaw sideman has cut hundreds of discs, and has been lauded in recent years for live and studio discs by his group Wingspan.
Also announced today: saxophonist Branford Marsalis, trumpeter Terence Blanchard, veteran drummer Roy Haynes and conductor-composer Maria Schneider.
The theme this year is “Flame Keepers,” which all of these artists certainly are. Haynes is one of the players in on the early phases of the bebop revolution, and he’s been open to myriad jazz changes since. (Not that there’s anything wrong with purists, but Haynes decidedly did not enroll in the bebop police force.) Miller and the others earn the designation for what they’ve absorbed from Haynes’ generation and other forerunners — and for their commitment to passing the music along to younger generations as well.
The complete roster is to be released during Jazz Appreciation Month in April.
According to the release from the festival, the 2010 event will continue to present artists from big names to emerging ones, not to mention Detroit-based artists and student ensembles. Collaborations are also planed with “the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Detroit School of Arts.”
The festival also announced:
• A March 12 appearance by Terence Blanchard and the Wayne State University Big Band at the Music Box of the Max M. Fisher Music Center. Clearly playing off Blanchard’s extensive cinema work, it’s titled “Mo’ Better Jazz — An Evening of Swing and Film.”
• A challenge to music lovers from festival benefactor Gretchen Valade, who will match 50 percent of all gifts to the festival of up $250,000, as the fest pushes to recruit 400 supporting members this year.
Fans, prospective donors, restaurants and other vendors can find out more at detroitjazzfest.com. There's also information for prospective performers, although time is running out. Friday, Feb. 26, is the last day for area musicians to submit online applications.