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Detroit Jazz Festival Announces 2017 Artist Line-up

The Detroit Jazz Festival, the world’s largest free jazz festival, has announced its full artist lineup for the 38th annual Labor Day weekend event. The lineup, which is filled with rich and diverse jazz talents, is anchored by 2017 Artist-in-Residence Wayne Shorter, a revolutionary saxophonist and composer globally recognized for his immense contributions to jazz music. Ranging from genre-defining icons to up-and-coming artists, this collection of world-class musicians continues the Festival’s proud tradition of delivering a distinct performance schedule that cannot be found anywhere else. Live sets will take place September 1-4, 2017, on four stages in downtown Detroit.

“Every year during Labor Day weekend, the Detroit Jazz Festival creates a scene downtown that bursts at the seams with culture, vibrancy and wonderful music,” said Gretchen Valade, Chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation Board of Directors. “We are proud to deliver a Festival, for free, that Detroiters and jazz fans from around the world continually mark on their calendars as a can’t-miss event. Our remarkable lineup of musicians and joyous atmosphere will deliver attendees a jazz experience that not only highlights great artists, but also our dynamic community.”

Shorter will help set the tone for the Festival by jumpstarting performances on opening night with a quartet featuring Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade. Additionally, Shorter also will participate in other special artist collaborations, a hallmark of the Detroit Jazz Festival, throughout the holiday weekend. One of these rare performances is a Wayne Shorter Quintet, featuring Geri Allen, Leo Genovese, Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington, and will take place on Sunday night. Shorter will be featured in an additional collaboration on Monday, making its North American debut: Wayne Shorter Quartet with the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra performs Emanon.

Day-by-day Festival highlights include:

Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Danilo Pérez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade
Miles Mosley
Herbie Hancock
George “Sax” Benson Detroit Jam Session

HUDSON: Jack DeJohnette | Larry Grenadier | John Medeski | John Scofield
Dee Dee Bridgewater
Theo Croker Quintet
Chucho Valdés Joe Lovano Quintet
Donny McCaslin
Spanish Harlem Orchestra
Miles Mosley + The West Coast Get Down
Billy Childs Quartet: Rebirth
Danilo Pérez: PanaMonk
John Patitucci: The Electric Guitar Quartet

Henry Butler & the Jambalaya Band
Cameron Graves
Benny Golson
Sean Jones Quintet
John Beasley presents MONK’estra
Kyle Eastwood Quintet
Akihiro Nishiguchi Trio
Kamasi Washington
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet
Kat Edmonson
Quintet: Wayne Shorter, Geri Allen, Leo Genovese, Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington
Wide Angles: The Music of Michael Brecker
Under the Direction of Gil Goldstein Featuring: Joe Lovano, Donny McCaslin, Rick Margitza, John Patitucci, Brian Blade and members of the DJF Orchestra

Vijay Iyer
Regina Carter: Simply Ella
Stanley Clarke
New Light: The Music of Elvin Jones: Live @ The Lighthouse, featuring Dave Liebman, Gene Perla, Adam Niewood, Adam Nussbaum
Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet
Johnny O’Neal Trio
Wayne Shorter Quartet with the Detroit Jazz Festival Symphony Orchestra perform Emanon

“The Detroit Jazz Festival is an event known worldwide for consistently showcasing musicians who expose people to the many beautiful, varied and intricate forms of jazz,” said Chris Collins, President and Artistic Director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “We believe in celebrating earnest, inventive artists that push the boundaries of self-expression through creativity and sound. With hypnotizing acts like Wayne Shorter, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Herbie Hancock on deck, this celebration will keep attendees grooving the entire Festival weekend.”
Tapping into Detroit’s musical roots, The Legacy Series will honor the artistry and mentorship of George “Sax” Benson, a saxophonist, composer and music teacher from Detroit. Professional artists at any stage in their career inspired by Benson’s mentorship and catalogue of music — ranging from swing to bebop, hard-bop and more — can submit for a paid performance slot at the Detroit Jazz Festival, where the winner will play Benson-themed compositions and help add to the Detroit-Sound tradition. Benson has taught generations of jazz artists from his home studio, Wayne State University and the Detroit Wayne Music Studio, now part of the Detroit Saxophone Center.
Other efforts by the Detroit Jazz Festival to include more unique, undiscovered voices in this year’s programming include the following:
  • The J.C. Heard National Drums Competition: Named after one of the most-recorded drummers in history, J.C. Heard, the Festival will recognize and provide a performance opportunity to an outstanding jazz drummer who is 35-years-old or younger. The winner’s style will reflect the values Heard embodied – originality and a commitment to jazz tradition.
  • The New Project Series: To support jazz ensembles of excellence, the Foundation is calling for submissions from ensembles with five pieces or more for a paid performance at the Festival. The new project must be a national premiere and 55-70 minutes in length.
  • The Original Voices Series: Open to jazz artists of all disciplines and at any stage in their career, the Festival will select a musician, vocalist and/or ensemble who epitomizes originality – from composition to improvisation, texture, style and more – to play a paid performance during Labor Day Weekend programming.
To ensure that jazz enthusiasts across North America have the opportunity to see every performance at this year’s event, the Festival has brought back the Detroit Jazz Fest LIVE! app, made possible by a generous donation from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The app will live stream all four stages, all four days, so both Festival-goers and out-of-town fans can watch whichever musician they desire, regardless of location. Additionally, the app also features Festival schedules, maps and more. Register for the app at or download it from the Google Play and Apple App stores.
The Detroit Jazz Festival takes place in Hart Plaza and Campus Martius in downtown Detroit. Four stages — the JPMorgan Chase Main Stage, Carhartt Amphitheater Stage, Absopure Waterfront Stage and Pyramid Stage — will host the performances during Labor Day weekend.
Major corporate sponsors, who continue to keep the Festival free, include Quicken Loans, JPMorgan Chase & Co., DTE Energy Foundation, Mack Avenue Records, Carhartt, Inc., Ford Motor Company, Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe and Comcast Cable. Individuals also can support the Festival by becoming a Jazz Guardian, donating to the Rhythm Section or purchasing a Jazz Pazz. Additionally, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation has established endowment opportunities for jazz enthusiasts to perpetuate the legacy of their favorite aspects of the Festival. For more information visit
About the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation
The Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that presents jazz and educational workshops throughout the year. The Foundation supports the Detroit Jazz Festival, which is the largest free jazz festival in the world and a major tourist attraction for the City of Detroit, with 26 percent of its audience coming from out of state.
The Foundation receives grant funding from the Kresge Foundation, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Erb Family Foundation, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Hundreds of individuals also contribute to the Festival through membership and donations.
Major corporate partners include Quicken Loans, JPMorgan Chase & Co., DTE Energy Foundation, Mack Avenue Records, Carhartt, Inc., Ford Motor Company, Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, and Comcast Cable. Additional partners include Absopure, AMTECH International, Andiamo, Bedrock, Bingham Legal Group, Central Michigan University, Cliff Bell’s, Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, Detroit Saxophone Center, Detroit 300 Conservancy, George Johnson & Company, MGM Grand Detroit, Oakland University, Pepsi, Plante Moran, St. John Providence, Wayne State University, Whole Foods Market and Woodward Gallery. Media partners include Fox 2, WJR, WEMU-FM, DownBeatJAZZIZJazzTimesMetro Times and Detroit Public Television. The Greening of the Festival is supported by a generous grant from the DTE Energy Foundation.