Rocket Mortgage Presents Detroit Jazz Festival to Highlight Local Artists

Detroit Jazz Festival 2020

Rocket Mortgage Presents Detroit Jazz Festival to Highlight Local Artists

September 3, 2020

Summer may be over, but the fun is just heating up! Rocket Mortgage is the proud sponsor of the Detroit Jazz Festival, which kicks off with an all-virtual lineup of live performances this Labor Day weekend starting tomorrow, September 4 through Monday, September 7. The sterling roster includes mostly Detroit-area artists plus special sets by jazz luminaries including Pharoah Sanders and Robert Glasper.

Best of all, you can access the live performances for free on the Festival’s respective social media channels (Facebook Live, Instagram) and on Channel 22, the city’s new Arts and Entertainment Channel. Live performances will also be carried by Detroit Public Television, WRCJ 90.9 FM, WEMU 89.1 and WDET 101.9fm. In addition, the entire festival programming will be available on the proprietary Detroit Jazz Fest LIVE! app, available on the App Store and Google Play. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity to showcase our Detroit talent, our Detroit sound, to the global jazz community,” said Chris Collins, Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation president and artistic director. “The lineup of Detroit jazz legacy artists, coupled with the up-and-coming generation of jazz revolutionaries will provide an exciting jazz journey through Detroit’s past, present and future.” 

For opening night tomorrow, the Festival will kick off with an ensemble piece named “JUSTICE,” which is a timely tribute in the fight against racism, the quest for equal rights and in honor of the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis who recently passed away. 

“As the country continues to struggle with its commitment to racial equality during a global pandemic, we found it befitting to produce a tribute to this pivotal time in American history and hopefully, allow the power of music to inspire change for better,” says Collins. 

All Virtual Event Addresses Safety Issues

Like many major events, the Jazz Festival will offer a new virtual format in compliance with the local city state and federal safety guidelines for public gatherings during the pandemic. But if we’ve learned anything from Detroit Out Loud, being all-virtual doesn’t mean it’s any less fun.

The event itself will be running on three large indoor sound stages at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center. Each stage will mimic the size, sound, lighting, crew and gear of traditional Festival stages, and all performances will run contiguously and will be closed to onsite audiences. 

The programming includes opening night followed by nearly 12 hours per day of live/real-time continuous jazz performances and programming streamed to various formats including a free public video/audio stream, maintaining our mission to keep the Festival free and available to everyone (except for opening night). COVID-19 Safety Precautions The Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation has developed extensive health and safety protocols and collected data from related travel entities to ensure the artists’ health is protected and isolation maintained throughout their Detroit Jazz Festival experience. 

Read on to see some of the lineup for the scheduled live performances.

Friday, Sept. 4 (6:15 – 11:45 p.m.) 

• JUSTICE: Sister Strings: Roots, Voice & Drums, Detroit Jazz Fest All-Stars Generations Band, Michael Jellick Sextet, Robert Hurst presents The Black Current Jam Band 

• Lulu Fall and the Kris Johnson Group • Pharoah Sanders: Icon 

• Legacy Artists: Ursula Walker and Buddy Budson 

Saturday, Sept. 5 (11:20 a.m. – Midnight)

• Tartarsauce Traditional Jazz Band 

• Alex Harding: Afro Horn 

• Ron Di Salvo Trio 

• Dr. Prof. Leonard King Orchestra 

• Gayelynn McKinney & McKinney Zone 

• Sabbatical Bob 

• Aguanko 

• Rodney Whitaker Septet w/ Vocalist Rockelle Fortin featuring the Music of Count Basie and Billie Holiday 

• Steve Turre Quintet 

• Something to Live For – Music of Billy Strayhorn 

Sunday, Sept. 6 (11:20 a.m. – Midnight)

• Collegiate Combo Competition Winner 

• Sven Anderson – Doc’s Holiday 

• The Rayse Biggs Collective 

• The Dave Bennett Quartet 

• Beartrap 

• Sean Dobbins Trio 

• Sister Strings: Roots, Voice & Drums 

• Robert Hurst presents The Black Current Jam Band 

• Walter White Big Band • Michael Jellick Sextet 

Monday, Sept. 7 (11:20 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.)

Monday, Sept. 7 (11:20 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.)

• Marion Hayden: Detroit Legacy

 • David McMurray 

• Joan Belgrave presents: The Marcus Belgrave Legacy Ensemble 

• Joey Alexander Trio 

• The Curtis Taylor Quartet 

• Call Al • Henry Conerway III 

• Rene Marie & Experiment in Truth 

• Robert Glasper 

About the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation

Under the leadership of President and Artistic Director Chris Collins, the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that presents jazz and educational workshops throughout the year. The Foundation produces the Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage, which is the signature event for the Foundation and the largest free jazz festival in the world. The Festival is also a major tourist attraction for the City of Detroit, with 26 percent of its audience coming from out of state. For more information, visit

The Foundation receives grant funding from the Kresge Foundation, Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Arts Midwest, D’Addario Foundation and Carolyn Wanzo and the Purify Wanzo CTAA Endowment at Wayne State University. Hundreds of individuals also contribute to the Festival through membership and donations. 

Major corporate partners include Presenting Sponsor Rocket Mortgage, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., DTE Foundation, Carhartt, Inc., Mack Avenue Music Group, Absopure, Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe and Comcast Cable. Additional partners include Bedrock Detroit, Bingham Legal Group, Central Michigan University, Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center, Giffels Webster, Grand Valley State University, Plante Moran, SMART Bus, Schupan SustainAbility™, Steinway Piano Gallery of Detroit, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Media partners include Fox 2 Detroit, WJR Newstalk 760 AM, WEMU-FM, DownBeat, JazzTimes, Metro Times, Michigan Chronicle, WDET-FM 101.9, WRCJ 90.9 FM and Detroit Public Television. 


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