Jazz and Justice: Detroit Jazz festival Goes Virtual in 2020

The pulsating rhythms, the scorching saxophone solos and the irresistible melodies of the 41st Detroit International Jazz Festival will not be silenced. The event will go on live over Labor Day weekend, albeit in a live-streamed format.

There will be no recordings, no on-demand, the musicians and directors know that jazz is best enjoyed as a communal experience and the best way to do that without a live audience is for the musicians and fans to experience in the moment.

From Wayne State University news: “There will be no replays or on-demand viewing, and I did not want Zoom performances from living rooms or pre-recorded from around the country — it has to be live,” said Chris Collins, the festival’s president and artistic director, and Valade Endowed Chair in Jazz, professor and director of jazz studies at Wayne State University. “If we can’t do it live in Detroit, we don’t have a jazz festival. We will light up the stages at 11 a.m. and won’t shut down until midnight. It’s going to be pretty special. ”


One of the highlights for this event is a tribute to recently deceased civil rights legend Representative John Lewis, titled JUSTICE! This will be the festival opener and will feature four groups of musicians playing a rearranged or new musical composition.

Chris Collins states: “It’s a way to deal with all of the issues that have been amplified, all from the artist’s perspective in a way that removes some of the narrative and becomes more about a feeling or sentiment,”


While we are all going to miss the in-person experience of the Detroit Jazz festival, the wonderful peaceful vibe at Hart Plaza along the Detroit River, with Windsor directly across the river, with the sun glistening off the trumpet, or later in the evening, the cool summer breeze blowing off the water as the moon rises making so many performances at the festival simply magical, this is a very much bit of bright news to look forward to this Labor Day.

I am impressed with the efforts to make this live and free for people throughout the world and I look forward to it greatly.

From Shawn Wright’s article: Sets can be heard/streamed locally on WDET-FM (101.9)WRCJ-FM (90.9), and WEMU-FM (89.1), and seen on Detroit Public Television and via Detroit’s new arts and entertainment outlet, Channel 22. The festival also can be viewed worldwide on the festival’s social media channels (Facebook and Instagram) and through the festival’s smartphone app, Detroit JazzFest LIVE!

For more information please check out today.wayne.edu and the Detroit Jazz Fest website.

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