From powerful saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins to trumpet superstar Wynton Marsalis - the magical trip that is the Detroit Jazz Festival awaits. On this Labor Day weekend, summer is still in the air.

In the past few years, the festival has boasted such artists and luminaries as Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis, Gary Burton and Allen Toussaint. With sunny skies predicted, this year promises more fine performances.

Detroit is purely a great music town- from jazz to rock to Motown, this city is steeped in music history and each Labor Day weekend it is jazz that shines here.

The 33rd annual fest kicks off with trumpet player, arranger and composer Terence Blanchard and the Terence Blanchard Quintet. The opener 'Autumn Leaves' finds Blanchard sailing on trumpet - playing sweet vibes from the start. Drums, bass, keyboards and sax are all in the groove. The quintet is improvising off one another including a wailing saxophone, a top flight beat on drums and dancing keys.

The next number is a soul soothing cool jazz anthem. Then on 'Touched by an Angel', crystal clear trumpet lines resound.

Enter saxophone legend Sonny Rollins, the weathered but still brilliant survivor of the great jazz age. On the cusp of his 82nd birthday, he has outlived so many of his brethren. Physically Rollins is stooped over, but his playing still amazes.

Backed by some blistering jazz guitar, trombone, dual percussionists and bass, Rollins plays solid flurries of notes - high and inspired on a beautiful night.

In a set full of improvisation, Rollins and his band also play the Stevie Wonder composition 'Isn’t She Lovely?'. As a joyous Rollins addresses the crowd it is clear that he is happy to be in Detroit. An audience member, who last saw Rollins 23 years ago in LA, says that he sounds just as good tonight- with a show that is commanding.

While Rollins doesn’t quite play with the precision of his classic 'Saxophone Colossus' album, recorded in 1956, his inspiration and overall performance are over the top.

On the second day, the Wynton Marsalis quintet are humming from the get go. I feel blessed to be hearing such stellar live jazz music, and the turn out for this free festival is ample.

Wynton’s trumpet is a true and clear voice on this late summer day - reaching for the heavens. This is straight ahead jazz done right with interlocking trumpet and saxophone parts.

The trumpet lines are understated and classy as drums, bass and keyboards follow Marsalis’ lead. The quintet are consummate professionals playing such original Marsalis compositions as 'Free to Be' and 'First Time' - music played with just the right touch.

All in all, Detroit couldn’t have asked for a better festival this year.










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