The roll call of notable jazz musicians who’ve come from Detroit, Michigan could fill up a fair amount of this Night Lights program if I were to read the nearly 200 names listed in an appendix to Mark Stryker’s book Jazz From Detroit. The brothers Thad, Hank, and Elvin Jones, pianist Barry Harris, guitarist Kenny Burrell, trumpeter Donald Byrd, trombonist Curtis Fuller, bandleader Gerald Wilson, and vibraphonist Milt Jackson are just a few of the players who could comprise a jazz supergroup drawn from Detroit. They emerged from a rich musical mid-20th-century environment described by Stryker in his book:
“Music of all kinds was omnipresent in black communities in Detroit—in schools, bars, barbershops, dance halls, living rooms, backyards, basements, and community centers. Gospel, hymns, blues, jazz, classical, and early R & B were all part of the mix. Jazz seeped out of clubs, under doors, and through windows, coating the streets in black neighborhoods in a thick haze of blues and swing.”
How did this explosion of talent come about? Throughout the show Mark Stryker delves into the foundations of Detroit jazz, ranging from its strong public-school system and mentors such as pianist Barry Harris and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave to thriving club scenes and supportive audiences. We'll also hear music from standout Detroit jazz musicians such as Milt Jackson, Gerald Wilson, Thad and Hank Jones, and others.