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Highlights from the Detroit Jazz Festival - Regina Carter / Dearborn Press and Guide

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Call it the unfinished Detroit Jazz Festival. After three and a half glorious days of superb weather and fantastic jazz, an untimely late Labor Day afternoon thunderstorm on Monday, Sept. 4, dampened the weekend glow and forced the early suspension of the 38th annual event in downtown Detroit. Despite the closing night setback, Monday's storm couldn't diminish the 60-plus buoyant, entertaining and stimulating jazz performances that enthralled jazz fans throughout the festival weekend. Festival highlights included;

Detroit violinist Regina Carter, made a homecoming visit leading a quintet of piano/organ, bass, guitar and drums focused upon instrumental versions of B-side song repertoire of Ella Fitzgerald. The performance supported Carter's new album, "Ella, Accentuate the Positive," her own reimagining of Fitzgerald's monumental jazz contributions. Dressed in a paisley orange gown, Carter set the mood when she introduced the first song by playing a snippet of a classic Fitzgerald song from her iPhone. The set was bright, upbeat and swinging. "I'll Never Be Free," arranged by bassist Chris Lightcap, felt like a honky tonk blues. Before she performed Fitzgerald's "Undecided," Carter played the familiar melody on her violin, and asked the audience if they recognized it. Of course, they did. But the re-invented version Carter played contained greasy organ licks and funky soul electric guitar. It was worlds away from the original. "It's because I'm a Motown jazz music baby," explained Carter. Later, she enchanted and coaxed the audience to sing-along: "Don't stop the groove, ‘cause it puts you in the mood." It had everyone feeling groovy about Ella.

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