World renowned saxophonist Branford Marsalis played the Detroit Jazz Festival this Labor Day of 2010. Marsalis was found poignantly wailing away on tenor saxophone as his quartet pumped with musical power behind him. Drums, bass and piano were all just swinging as the Branford Marsalis quartet played inspired straight ahead jazz.
The Detroit Jazz Festival is a phenomenal all weekend free concert that just gets better every year. On this fine Monday afternoon, Marsalis’ pianist Joey Calderazzo was positively humming on the keys. Branford’s horn likewise sang sweetly on 'Return of the Jitney Man'.
The band segued into a Thelonious Monk number called 'Tio' as the quartet interwove with one another, each member putting forth his musical imprint. The bass resonated alongside masterful drums, as Branford eloquently sent out flurries of notes into the stratosphere.
It was eight years since Marsalis last played this festival in Detroit, and he was making up for lost time. The band was clearly in the zone. Justin Faulkner, the nineteen year old drummer, is purely athletic. Physically claiming his territory, Faulkner just smoked. This was jazz at its finest, improvisational and inspired.
The sun came out from behind the clouds on this Labor Day afternoon, as Marsalis sent out an epiphany of saxophone music to the appreciative crowd. From start to finish, the quartet grooved together intimately, interweaving their varied rhythms to create jazz that was both intricate and brilliant.
Other Detroit Jazz Festival highlights included the great New Orleans musical legend Allen Toussaint, who appeared in a glowing purple suit, tickling the ivories of his Steinway and playing such all time classic hits as 'Working in the Coal Mine', 'Fortune Teller' and his crowd pleasing finale 'Southern Nights'. Toussaint, the writer of so many great songs over the years, including those covered by Jerry Garcia, Bonnie Raitt and the Rolling Stones, represents the heart and soul of New Orleans.
All in all, it was a stellar day in Detroit at the Jazz Festival and I very much look forward to returning next year.