2009 Detroit Jazz Festival
Bassist and 2009 Artist-In-Residence John Clayton's role was multi-faceted as was the breadth of his contributions to the festival. His quintet, co-led with his brother Jeff, features two young musicians, drummer Obed Calvaire and John's son Gerald on piano. The centerpiece of the festival was a large-scale world-premiere, composed by John for the quintet plus the Scott Gwinnell Jazz Orchestra. The resulting piece, titled "THE Family," was a tribute to famed Detroit natives, the Jones brothers (Thad, Hank and Elvin). The three movements each represented a specific brother. "Thad" featured an opening chorale inspired by the newly-renovated Guardian building, a monument of Art-Deco architecture, representing the height of Detroit's renown in the '20s. "Hank" gracefully floated along, calling to mind the sublime beauty of its namesake (who opened the festival with a set by his trio). "Elvin" burned brightly throughout, closing the festival with an intense drum duet and densely-voiced ensemble lines.
The Festival's 30th year brought incredible talent from all over the world, while celebrating the city's heritage. The positive energy sounds an undeniable call for a future as bright as its past.