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Chick Corea at Detroit Jazz Fest, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Saturday, September 1, 2018

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You'll have to work hard NOT to see Chick Corea at this year's 39th Annual Detroit Jazz Festival.

As this year's Artist-In-Residence, Corea will be on stage quite a bit. He opens things on Friday, Aug. 31, with his Akoustic Band, then firing up his Elektric Band on Saturday, Sept. 1. Corea, 77, The Grammy Award-winning musician, bandleader and composer -- whose resume includes working with Miles Davis and Return To Forever as well as his solo projects -- will also have the last word on Monday, Sept. 3, playing his composition "Spain" with the Detroit Jazz Festival Symphony Orchestra. Keep an eye out and you might see the keyboard virtuoso poking around the festival site, too.

It's a holiday weekend, after all, and Corea is happy to celebrate -- with jazz...

•Corea says a combination of heritage and concept are what make the Detroit Jazz Festival so appealing to him. It's Detroit; It's got so much jazz history. It seems like in this day and age it's one of the few, what they call jazz festivals now that actually has jazz musicians playing it. This is truly a festival with the number of musicians and bands and the care with which everyone is invited and so forth."

• Corea particularly likes the fact that the festival has remained free to the public. "That's amazing. I really love that idea. I remember playing here (before) and it's really a different vibe when you play for a totally free public and they come out on their own and you see kids and families, people you don't normally see at concerts. I really, really appreciate that and I love that. Some of my favorite experiences in concerts is to play free concerts like this."

• The best part of being an Artist-in-Residence, Corea adds, is the ability to be in one place for a (comparatively) long period of time. "One of the built-in problems in a touring musician's life is that when you visit a city you’re in and out. Because of the economics of a tour, you have to keep moving...so it's difficult to ever get into real communication with the community or with the environment other than coming in and playing. With an engagement like this I'm gonna be her for four days or so and give several performances with different kinds of bands. To have all that happen in one weekend is unique. It's a lot of work, but I'm looking forward to it. It's a bit more special to me."

• Corea is particularly looking forward to the Labor Day performance of "Spain." "it's a very special piece. It's written for sextet and orchestra -- a full symphony orchestra, plus a sextet. So I'll have four out of the five members of the Elektric Band in the sextet. Eric Marienthal, the original saxophonist from the piece, is going to play one of the saxophone roles and the original trombonist from the piece, Steve Davis, is going to come in and play. So it should be a pretty smokin' ensemble. And I've worked with the conductor, Steven Mercurio, on other things. It just all fell together here in Detroit. It'll be a unique experience."

• Corea has been performing professionally since the early 1960s, as a sideman before he released his debut album in 1966. But he demurs when asked to assess his growth and evolution over the decades. "I don't know how to separate that. Life is a process that continues moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day. It's a very gradual thing we do and you can use fancy worlds like 'evolve' and 'develop,' but life goes on and you collect experience and you change and do different things. So I just do it, I don't think about it much."

If You Go:

• The 39th annual Detroit Jazz Festival

• Friday through Monday, Aug. 31-Sept. 3.

• Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park, downtown Detroit.

• Admission is free, with VIP packages available.

• Visit detroitjazzfest.org.

Web Site: www.detroitjazzfest.org

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