25th Michigan Jazz Festival

Celebrating 25It has been a quarter century since the Michigan Jazz Festival started. For most of this time it has been located at Schoolcraft College in Livonia and it is easy to see why. You cannot find a more convenient and spacious location for an event like this than the Livonia campus. The friendly and helpful staff at the Festival also helps. Thanks to the Board of Directors of the Festival and all of the volunteers who make it a first-class event. SEMJA is one of the many organizations contributing to the festival every year.

The critical ingredient in the festival is of course the large number world-class Metro Detroit musicians who perform on the seven stages. Here is a sampling of the music performed this year.

Drummer Gayelynn McKinney was very busy this year. She put together her McKinFolk ensemble (top) for the Lower Waterman stage: (from left) McKinney, bassist Ibrahim Jones, trumpeter Trunino Lowe, and tenorist Jeffrey Trent Jr. Pianist Gerard Gibbs is not shown. The band played several pieces by Gayelynn and her father, Harold, with lots of gusto.

The Vosgerchian Solo Piano Stage gave audiences a chance to hear some fine pianists in an intimate setting. One of them was Bill Meyer (above) who has been a regular band leader at Bert’s Jazz Cafe for years. Here he had a chance to shine on his own.

SEMJA’s Future of Jazz Stage presented a variety of young musicians throughout the day. Here (left) is the very talented vibraphonist Oliver Mayman playing with drummer McKinney.

A sometimes forgotten part of the Detroit jazz scene are the writers who present the music to the public. Below are three generations of jazz writers (from left): former Detroit Free Press music critic Mark Stryker who signed his new book Jazz From Detroit in the Jazz Walk, up-and-coming jazz writer Veronica Johnson, and Metro Times journalist Charles Latimer who wrote Behind the Swing.