Detroit Jazz Festival Announces Star-Studded 2021 Lineup

The Detroit Jazz Festival unveiled a top-shelf lineup for its 2021 incarnation that includes the magnificent Dee Dee Bridgwater, legendary keyboardist Herbie Hancock, and iconic saxophonist Kenny Garrett. Other highlights will include performances by Gregory Porter, Abdullah Ibrahim, Omar Sosa and The Havana-Detroit Jazz Project, and Kurt Elling’s “The Big Blind” among others.

ICYMI: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Herbie Hancock, Kenny Garrett, Omar Sosa Music, Gregory Porter, Abdullah Ibrahim Headline 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival

Traditionally held over Labor Day weekend (September 3-6) at Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park in Detroit, Michigan, the festival has yet to finalize a format for its presentation due to the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic. The largest free jazz festival in the world, The Detroit Jazz Festival was forced to cancel last year because of COVID-19 and livestreamed a series of performances instead. Organizers will announce a decision in June or July as to whether the event will be in person or virtual.


In either case, artist-in-residence Dee Dee Bridgewater will perform throughout the weekend in a variety of formats, including an opening set with her group the Woodshed Network Ladies. A Grammy and Tony award- winner, Bridgewater was originally named as the 2020 artist-in-residence before the live festival was cancelled.

Dee Dee Bridgewater. Photo courtesy of Detroit Jazz Festival. Photo Credit: Rod Arroyo

In a press release, festival organizers expressed excitement and optimism about this year’s roster. “Our 2021 Detroit Jazz Festival lineup reflects our ongoing mission to present true jazz artists and presentations that define our reputation and legacy across the globe,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director, Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation. “We look forward to continuing our tradition of showcasing a dynamic group of artists from various genres and generations, representing our embedded mission to present multiple facets of jazz in one festival setting.”


A partial lineup is listed below with more artists to be announced.


Friday, September 3

2021 Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Woodshed Network Ladies

Herbie Hancock

Saturday, September 4

Matthew Whitaker Quartet
Kenny Barron
Jerry Bergonzi Quintet
Alicia Olatuja – “Intuition: Songs from the Minds of Women”
Etienne Charles – Creole Soul
David Binney Angeleno Quartet
Omar Sosa and the Havana-Detroit Jazz Project
Keyon Harrold presents Jazz and the Birth of Hip Hop with special guests “Elzhi,” Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Chris “Daddy” Dave
The Summit: The Manhattan Transfer Meets Take 6
Kurt Elling’s The Big Blind

Sunday, September 5

Michael Mayo
Roberto Fonseca
Dee Dee Bridgewater/Bill Charlap Duo
Abdullah Ibrahim and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra
Anat Cohen Tentet
Sean Jones: “DizzySpellz”
Kenny Garrett
Tribute to Dave Brubeck @100: Brubeck Brothers Quartet featuring Jerry Bergonzi, Detroit Jazz Festival Choir, and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra
Aziza featuring Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Lionel Loueke, and Eric Harland
Gregory Porter

Monday, September 6

Abdullah Ibrahim: Ekaya
Jimmy Green Quintet
Eddie Daniels and Bob James: Exploring New Worlds
Fly Higher: Charlie Parker @ 100


The full Festival schedule will be available as the event nears. Also returning this year is “Detroit JAZZ Fest LIVE!” For just $20, those unable to make it to the festival can livestream performances from the event via a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Additionally, the livestreaming service features select performances throughout the year from the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation’s year-round initiatives. To register for the livestream and to learn more about the festival, click on the links below.


Detroit Jazz Festival






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