Detroit Jazz Fest – day 3 (8/31/08)

Day 3. Sunny and EXTRELMELY hot, hot hot…lots of lemonade stands, umbrellas, and the river is filled with white speedboats. Thanks to the very late (early…) jam session last night I missed a lot of the day’s heat by having a lazy day inside making it to the fest around 4pm. Now I know why I don’t have a TV at home. I could lose a whole weekend this way.

One of my favorite pix: the fountain, in the Festival park

One of my favorite pix: the fountain, in the Festival park

Before going over to the fest I decided to take a ride on the DPM (Detroit People Mover!) – an elevated train that makes a closed circuit around the downtown district, with around a dozen stops at interest points like Greektown, Tiger stadium, the opera house, and the Renaissance Center (that’s the GM headquarters building, across the street from my hotel.) I can see part of the DPM rail from my room and I’ve been wondering what it was. Turns out it takes about 15 minutes to do the whole loop, fast ride with great views of the city.

Nice to see some of the old part of town since I’ve been spending most of my time in the newly built area along the waterfront. My first impressions of emptiness in the Detroit suburbs were happily countered by today’s scenes of cranes, barriers, and generally lots of construction all around
the core of downtown.

Music highlights from yesterday were some of the best music I’ve heard here yet: the Hot Club of Detroit (gypsy jazz, Django style with THREE guitars, including a hot talent named Kruna, from Croatia) and Ravi Coltrane’s tribute to his mom Alice. He held a whole concert dedicated to her music, with harp, organ, piano, tabla…(the rest of the group was Geri Allen, Charlie Haden, Jack DeJohnette, with the tabla and harp player).

Geri Allen & Ravi Coltrane

Geri Allen & Ravi Coltrane

Just the right cool combination of extended shifting tones and colors to change the channel and take the mind away from the blazing sun and 90+ degree heat! It won’t surprise you to hear I wore long jeans with a long-sleeved shirt, and spent the duration of the concert huddled in refuge under an umbrella. [Summer R-NOT-US !].

Last concert of the evening was a billing called ‘The Gerald Wilson Orchestra with Kenny Burrell VS. The Count Basie Orch. with Nnenna Freelon.’ A clasic battle of the bands. Wilson‘s Orch. first, then a short break, and then the CB Orch. took over. Nnenna joined them about 2/3 of the way through the set: ‘Silk Stockings’, ‘Can’t Take That Away From Me’, ‘Misty’, ‘Too Close For Comfort’, and ‘Yesterdays’. What style. Gerald Wilson is 90 this year, and the back-row trumpet line of his orchestra is anchored by longtime bandmate and friend Snooky Young. ALSO 90!

The grand finale featured BOTH bands along with everyone else that could be rounded up from the other stages: Christian McBride, Steve Turre, Geri Allen, and John Clayton’s piano-playing son Gerald. With Kenny Burrell and Nnenneh, and the 30 or so players in the combined forces of the two bands.

It ran late. Very late. Supposed to end at 11:45pm, but let’s just say that when they did the closing number (the 1 o’clock jump!) it was right on time.

So far today (Monday mid-morning) I’m somewhat room-bound. The Obama campaign unexpectedly scheduled a Labor day rally in the plaza across the street from my hotel – yep, that would be the very same park where the jazz fest has been happening.

Obama rally in the street below my room

Obama rally in the street below my room

And, the Labor Day parade also ended about 20 min. ago on the same street. Obama is speaking now as I write this. Remains to be seen what will happen with the jazz fest later today; for now the planned events have been cancelled through early afternoon. I can already feel the heat coming through my Southern exposure window. Glad to be inside for now. The crowds have been so thick in the streets all around my hotel this morning I wonder if I could get out even if I wanted to, what a scene! I’m including a pic taken from my room window about 10 min. ago.

Cheers from crowd-control central! :) And on to day 4, before going home tomorrow.

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