As the summer months approach in Ann Arbor, the concert and club scene heats up with the temperature. The free Top of the Park events associated with the Ann Arbor Summer Festival provide great communal opportunities for fans of jazz and all other kinds of music. This year is as packed as ever, so let's get right to it!
Summer Fest and Top of The Park
Lots of the Summer Fest shows will hold appeal for jazz fans. The legendary soul singer Al Green will send 'em at Hill Auditorium Saturday, June 16 at 8pm. This guy is as deep as can be! Acclaimed bassist, singer and bandleader Esperanza Spalding brings her Radio Music Society to the Power Center Thursday, June 21 at 8 pm. If you caught her recent appearance on The Daily Show, you know what a remarkable ensemble this is! Modern soulful jazz sounds will be the “order of the night.” Kaleidoscopic fun! Pop star Nellie McKay will perform cool jazz standards and quirky originals at the Power Center Wednesday, June 27 at 8pm.
The outdoor Top of The Park events on the Ingalls Mall start with musical acts at 6:30pm. A free movie showing follows at dusk each night. Heavy-hitting blues diva Lady Sunshine & the X Band appear Saturday, June 16 at 9 pm. The Sun Messengers began honoring the music of Sun Ra and continue along the leading edge of horn-driven funk, jazz and soul. They will be at TOP Saturday, June 23 at 9 pm. Now-generation hipsters the Macpodz will shake your world Friday, June 29 at 9pm. Great salsa sounds will be served up by the wonderful Orquesta Sensacional Sunday, June 30 at 9pm.
World-class blues duo Peter “Madcat” Ruth and Sheri Kane perform Sunday, July 1. Fans of Latin jazz should mark their calendars for a rhythmic tag team Wednesday, July 4. You will feel your feet liberated by Tumbao Bravo at 6:30pm and Los Gatos at 8 pm. The TOP events wrap up in fine style with George Bedard and the Kingpins Sunday, July 8 at 8pm. These guys throw down jazz, blues, rockabilly, country and even film music. You haven’t lived ‘til you’ve checked out their dramatic reading of “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly”! Yee-haw!
Aboard the Ark
Blues guitarist John Primer returns to the Ark Monday, June 4 at 8pm. Sultry singer-songwriter Rickie Lee Jones is slated to bring her jazz inflections aboard the Ark Saturday, June 9 at 8pm. Acclaimed bassist Victor Wooten came to the attention of the world with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones. He is possessed of terrific technique with nods toward James Brown, Jaco Pastorius and Bootsy Collins. This top drawer “bottom feeder” plays the Ark Monday, July 2 at 8 pm.
Laser-beam guitarist Bill Frisell plays the music of John Lennon with Tony Scherr, Greg Leisz and Kenny Wollesen. They will bring all the love you need to the Ark Tuesday, July 3 at 8pm. Michigan native blues singer Janiva Magness is emerging as a full force talent. She will tear the playhouse down Saturday, July 7 at 8pm.
Kerrytown Concert House
The Moutin Reunion Quartet with brothers Francois (bass) and Louis (drums) Moutin and Detroit’s native saxophone son Rick Margitza brings jazz with a Parisian flair to KCH Saturday, June 9 at 8 p.m. Pianist Ellen Rowe brings in Paul Keller and Pete Siers for an All About the Trio gig Sunday, June 10 at 2 pm. Pianist-singer John Proulx works out on the Nat King Cole book of tunes Tuesday, June 19 at 8 pm. He'll be joined by bassist Keller and guitarist Ralph Tope in a tone-parallel to the classic King Cole Trio lineup.
More Euro-jazz vibes will be provided by Italian violinist Luca Ciarla Thursday, June 28 at 8pm. His quartet includes accordion, bass and percussion, playing Mediterranean Jazz styling. Trombone brother Delfeayo Marsalis brings a group (members TBA) Sunday, June 24 at 7 pm. Another Italian native, guitarist Michele Ramo brings a group of friends including singer Heidi Hepler and bassist Ralphe Armstrong to KCH Saturday, July 14 at 8 pm. Manner Effect features emerging NYC talent including singer Sarah Elizabeth Charles and sax cat Caleb Curtis. They hit Sunday, July 22 at 7 p.m.
Ann Arbor’s Afro-Cuban jazz band Tumbao Bravo play KCH Saturday, July 28 at 8 pm. Great chance to see the band in an intimate situation. These guys swing hard! And speaking of swinging…sophisticated sax cat with a big warm tone Ben Jansson brings a quartet with pianist Michael Karloff, bassist Kurt Krahnke and drummer Sean Dobbins. They will light up your life Tuesday, July 31 at 8pm. Expect strong soulful jazz and delightfully unabashed romanticism!
That’s all for this round! See you on the square!