Jazzing up Jimi Hendrix

Oakland’s Jazz Quartet, along with Oakland alumnus Regina Carter, set the stage on fire with a performance of Jimi Hendrix music on Saturday night.

The event took place at the Carr Center in Detroit and featured many of the legendary guitarist’s greatest hits. The set list included “Fire,” “Manic Depression,” and “Angel,” along with many more of Hendrix’s classics.

Even though Hendrix’s music might not seem like a perfect fit for jazz music, bass player Miles Brown thought it would provide something new and exciting for the audience.

“We picked Jimi Hendrix’s music because it’s not often performed by jazz musicians,” said Brown. “The group is very creative, and we thought that we could really make something out of the raw power that Jimi created.”

The Oakland Jazz Quartet is comprised of Oakland faculty members Miles Brown on bass, Sean Dobbins on the drums, Scott Gwinnell on piano, and Mark Stone on percussion. Before the instructors/professional musicians came up on the stage, Oakland’s own Jazz-Off band treated the audience to a performance.

After the opening, the quartet performed with renowned jazz violinist Regina Carter who graduated from Oakland University and is the current artist-in-residence.  Carter is a Grammy nominee and returns each year to the university to teach master classes and perform concerts with the students.

One of the spectators at the concert, Theresa Zajac, said she came to the performance because Carter was performing and thought the decision to do Jimi Hendrix as jazz was interesting. She has been a fan of Carter since her early shows in Detroit.

“I watched her musical growth in her early years playing with Lyman Woodard at Cobb’s Corner near Wayne State’s campus,” Zajac said. “It is always great to hear her music interpretations.”   

Carter works with OU students and performs concerts about twice a year. Oakland’s Jazz Quartet came about by her needing someone to back her up, but the band has started to flourish on its own as of late.

Upcoming performances for the OU jazz band include a performance on Feb. 12 and a performance with special guests Steve Wood and Michael Zaporski on April 7.

The quartet is holding a Jazz Workshop, featuring Regina Carter, on June 13 and 14. It is open to the public.

More information on the band and its events can be found at oakland.edu/mtd.