Oakland Jazz Band playing to Detroit

The Oakland Jazz Band, under the direction of Assistant Professor of Music Miles Brown, will return to the Detroit Jazz Festival (DJF) for the third year in a row.

The festival, to be held Sept. 4-6, was created in 1980 by Robert McCabe and the Detroit Renaissance. Currently, the DJF is produced by the Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation and is hailed as the “world’s largest free jazz festival,” according to their website.

Stretching from Hart Plaza to Campus Martius, this marks the festival’s 36th year, and will feature over 100 acts on five different stages. The Oakland Jazz Band will perform on the Waterfront Stage at 12:45 pm on Sept. 5.

The festival gives students real-world application of their performance technique, and holds them to higher standards of precision and musicality.

According to Brown, the festival attracts approximately 50,000 individuals per year and gives students the chance to perform alongside some of the musicians of whom they are fans.

Brown finds the festival to be just as rewarding to an educator such as himself, in that he has “learned something new [each time] about what works and what doesn’t work.”

The endless process of learning is a common theme at the festival as they largely focus on music education in Detroit, allowing high school and college bands to perform among the likes of Pat Metheny (artist-in-residence at the festival for 2015) and the Ron Carter Trio. The collaborative effort of a band leads to a “deeper appreciation for the music, and [will] bring this enthusiasm to the people in their current and future lives,” Brown said, whether or not the students choose to pursue music in a professional capacity.

Erik McIntyre, junior and guitarist in the Oakland Jazz Band, sees this deeper appreciation for music applicable in his own life as he hopes to continue to play and create music beyond graduation. This will be McIntyre’s first year as a part of the jazz band’s performance at the DJF, and imagines he will be able to “connect with new people and deepen [his] motivation to keep learning and loving this music.”

Beyond music appreciation, McIntrye is hoping to learn more about the technical and physical aspects behind playing a large festival. The jazz band has played a pivotal role in McIntyre’s life as he transferred to Oakland in order to pursue a jazz minor. Since joining the program, McIntrye says he has learned the importance of improvisation and theory.

“It’s allowed me to dig into some of the puzzle pieces of jazz language and what it means to improvise within a group,” McIntrye said.

Molding and encouraging, the jazz program at Oakland continues to challenge students with real-world application of their knowledge in the form of performances such as the Detroit Jazz Festival. The setlist is still in the works, but the Oakland Jazz Band is confident as they prepare for this festival.

For more information, please visit the Music Ensembles page on Oakland’s website or the Detroit Jazz Festival’s page.