“Wow! I’d know that was Detroit.” Those are the words that so many say after attending the Detroit Jazz Festival. They shouldn’t be surprised. Detroit is passionate about jazz and many of its legends either hailed from the city or played at the Detroit Jazz Festival.
This free festival brings people from around the world to Detroit Labor Day weekend. Last year 23 percent of those attending came from outside of Michigan and the festival brought millions into the city over the three days. “Hearing jazz heroes in Hart Plaza is an incredible gift,” says Chris Collins, the new artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival.” … and it is free to all of us.”
We got a preview of this year’s festival the other day and the lineup is spectacular. Sonny Rollins, Wynton Marsalis Quintet, Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea and Gary Burton with strings are all part of the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival. For a complete lineup, click here.
The only word Terence Blanchard, the festival’s artist in residence, could think of to describe this start-studded list of performers, who have collectively been nominated for and won more than 200 Grammy Awards, was … “damn.” That’s an impressive analysis from a musician who has more than 29 albums, won five Grammys and composed more than 50 film scores. He also collaborated with Spike Lee on many film compositions and got a Golden Globe nomination for the film “25th Hour.”
There will also be a “Homecoming” series this year. Prominent Detroit musicians who have gone on to national acclaim will be paired with their Detroit mentors. For example, Margitza will be paired with his first saxophone teacher, George Benson, in a saxophone quintet. There will also be a national sax competition.
To start the “jazz season” the Detroit Torino Jazz Project will be held on June 1 in collaboration with the Detroit Symphony. The event will bring in jazz greats from Detroit and Torino, Italy, (that’s Turin to some and the home of Fiat) to play with the orchestra. “Half of the musicians will be from Detroit, and half will be from Torino,” says Collins.
It’ll be great music but jazz is more than just music that passes in the night. It is music that is passed down from generation to generation. For Blanchard that pass along started when he was a kid “geeked” on playing jazz. He said he and his friends would go anywhere they could to learn more. Willy Metcalf was of his early mentors.
But the music did so much more for Blanchard. It kept him on the straight and narrow. While he took the path to learning jazz he says many of his friends took other paths and ended up in serious trouble. “Music taught me to do things because you love it, not because you get paid a lot,” he says.
That’s one reason a free Detroit Jazz Festival is so important. “You never know what kid is being transformed by just being there,” he says.
One quick reminder. The jazz festival is green. For the fourth year the DTE Energy Foundation is working with Recycle Detroit to reduce the carbon footprint. Here are some things it’s done to reduce the use of unnecessary energy and supplies:
- The Meijer Kid Bop Stage was powered by solar energy
- Six production golf carts were replaced with bicycles
- Free paper programs were replaced with signage and electronic versions
- 5,000 vehicle miles were saved through a new shuttle program sponsored by WEMU, which carried 183 people from Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti to the Detroit Jazz Festival
- Elimination of the use of 10,000 single use water bottles by switching to five-gallon reusable coolers for crew and volunteers.
- 500 square feet of plastic board was saved by reducing the size of menu signs for restaurants and beverage stands
- Laminated credentials were reduced in size, cutting plastic use in half
- Electronic artist submission process (no artist packets, CDs, etc.)
- Mobil applications, text messaging and email notifications for surveys, programs and other festival info
- Reduction of emissions through fuel efficient vehicles for artist transportation
- Festival programs were printed on FSC certified recycled paper
Step two was to avoid waste by reusing materials when possible.
- Reusable table cloths and skirts saved more than 900 pounds of plastic and packaging.
- 50% of the 200 Detroit Jazz Festival signs were reused. Any obsolete signs were donated to Arts and Scraps for use in their children’s art programs.
Anything that could not be eliminated or reused was recycled. These steps resulted in eliminating 25% of waste.
- Provisions were added for cardboard and glass recycling
- The number of recycling bins were doubled
- Volunteers gave collectible postcards to fans as incentives to encouraging recycling
- Video boards featured guests being caught “green handed”
- Frequent stage announcements encouraged fans to recycle
- All plates, utensils and cups in VIP and beverage service areas were made of compostable materials.
Here are the results.
- 25% (almost ten tons) of the trash from the event was prevented from entering landfills
- Two tons of materials were recycled
- The additional reduction in waste is credited to the reduction in unnecessary waste
So when you’re at the festival get those pop cans and candy wrappers in the recycle bins and remember to get jazzed.