Detroit’s good luck with weather held out again on Saturday. Plenty of good music and no rain delays that I am aware of. Water was running in the fountain at the center of Hart Plaza, and people seemed to be having a good time. I never found the Slow’s Barbecue stand, but there was plenty of other things to choose from. I even ran into my favorite Veterinary Cardiologist at the market on my way down to Detroit. He is a good friend, who spied me picking out some quality brews to pack in with me.
My two favorite sets were both on the big Amphitheater stage. The Mack Avenue Super Band is a group of musicians that all record for the local Mack Avenue record label. This is the third year they have put a group together for the festival, and the last two years are available on compact disc. Each incarnation of the Super Band has been anchored by a rhythm section of Rodney Whitaker on bass (and musical director), Carl Allen on drums, and Aaron Diehl on piano. The entire set was original tunes by the artists, with the exception of one Herbie Hancock composed number. The best, was “Bi-Polar Blues Blues”, composed by tenor saxophonist Kirk Whalum. A blusey, swinging good time it was.
Another favorite set and big surprise for me, was the offering of the Pharaoh Sanders Quartet. I’ve always known the seventy four year old saxophone legend for his pioneering “free jazz” sound. His music from the 1960’s was laced with harmonics, overblowing, multiphonics and all sorts of other extended techniques on the saxophone. That’s kind of a fancy way to say there was a lot of squeeking and squawking going on on Pharaoh’s records back then. He still has all of those things in his bag of tricks, but there was much more melody, swing and straight-ahead playing on his set than I would have guessed. Loved every minute of it.
All in all, it was another great day at the DJF. Here is the view from the top of the Pyramid stage seating, looking out across the Detroit River. Come down and check it out for yourself.