It's that time of the year again — when Ann Arbor hosts the Edgefest music festival, this year celebrating its 19th year with the slogan "Wake-Up Calls from the Edge." It's one of the premier national events for avant-garde and improvisational music in the world, and this year sees a special emphasis on the trumpet (as well as the flugelhorn and the cornet, which are both basically trumpets with more round-y stuff to them, underneath those buttons they push).
We spoke with Kerrytown Concert House director and Edgefest curator Deanna Relyea, who spoke of new avenues for funding the fest. "Grant funds are getting harder to come by, and we are finding that we need to combine smaller amounts from a greater number of organizations and individuals to keep the festival vital and successful," she said. "This year, a number of our staunch fans have stepped up to sponsor individual concerts."
"I could list all the guest trumpet players here — but two are certainly iconic and qualify as statesmen — Ted Daniel, who opens the festival, and Joe McPhee, who closes it," Relyea says. "We try to have a balance between our area artists (we stay away from the word local; many area artists perform nationally, and local sounds too much like yokel) and the national/international artists. This year, KCH has funding to present Detroit artists throughout the year, and we are so happy to present Wendell Harrison's group on the final day of the fest. Wendell is well-known as a Detroit jazz hero, but audiences rarely get to hear his more out/edgy compositional and playing side. He has a deep history in this music."
The chief visiting performer this year is virtuoso cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, who has played the festival before, as a member of Jason Kao Hwang's Edge Quartet. "Bynum will work very closely for two days with the band program at Scarlett Middle School here in Ann Arbor. These kids will come down to Kerrytown for the noon Edgefest Parade led by Taylor. The kids will be primed with riffs and bass lines for a raucous parade. Last year we had about 60 kids and a drum line. And in addition to his many Edgefest duties, Taylor's sextet will travel to Hamtramck on Sunday, Oct. 25, to the 9338 Campau Gallery for a collaborative performance and art opening with Chinese artist Tsz Yan Ng.
Relyea also recommends people be sure to check out the performances by Peter Evans, Jason Kao Hwang, and Lina Alemano. "When we were doing the piano-themed Edgefest, we figured out who we wanted to invite and a majority were women," Relyea says. "This happened in a most organic fashion; they simply dominated the field. This yea we are so proud to present Lina, a rising leader from Canada. It isn't always easy to find women trumpet players who work in this music."
Edgefest takes place at Kerrytown Concert House from Wed. Oct. 21 to Sat. October 24; 415 N. 4th Ave., Ann Arbor; kerrytownconcerthouse.com; Tickets are $10-$30 for individual ticketed events; an Edgepass ($135) allows for admission to all events as well as a special dinner on Wednesday evening with Edgefest artists; Individual day passes are also available.