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On Thursday last, the Ford Detroit International Jazz Festival unveiled a vastly improved lineup (over last year) for the 2001 Labor Day weekend in Hart Plaza. From the Jazz Crusaders, Tommy Flanagan, Marlena Shaw, Christian McBride to Benny Green, Russell Malone and the Brubeck Brothers Band, Friday (Aug. 31) opens the festivities with a rush of heat and light. Continuing with a generous helping of soul, Saturday (Sept. 1) features organ master Jimmy Smith, as well as the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabakin Quartet, the first of two James Carter projects (his Django Reinhardt tribute band), Kevin Mahogany, Jerry Gonzalez & the Fort Apache Band, Hilton Ruiz w/Antonio Hart and Michael Ray & the Cosmic Krewe. Rising-star vocalist Nnenna Freelon, Herbie Mann and Dave Valentin’s Two Amigos band, the Wallace Roney Quintet’s tribute to Miles Davis (w/special guest Bennie Maupin), the New York Voices, Monty Alexander, Andy Narell and Richard Bona make Sunday a full-spectrum experience. And Monday’s finale brings Carter back (with his funk project, featuring bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma), plus 93-year-old master Claude “Fiddler” Williams, Marcus Belgrave and the Detroit All Stars in a tribute to Louis Armstrong, Jane Bunnett & Spirits of Havana, Jane Monheit, Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers and the Sun Ra Arkestra under the direction of Marshall Allen. Whew! — and most of the Detroit musicians have yet to be announced (info in about a month). Festival producer and artistic director Frank Malfitano and his staff have much to be proud of, having taken the wheel of a bus on the road to ruin and steered it back to where we once belonged.

The Hot & the Bothered was written and edited by George Tysh. E-mail him at gtysh@metrotimes.com

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