Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Detroit International Jazz Festival

Formally the Monteux Detroit jazz Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival was formed in 1980 by Robert McCabe and the Detroit Renaissance.  Held at Hart Plaza and Campus Martius, the festival is the largest free Jazz festival in the world. 

From 1980 to 1991, the festival grew through a partnership with the international jazz festival in Montreux, Switzerland. The partnership allowed the festivals to share performers and commissioned poster art.  In 1991, the festival merged with Detroit’s Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, where it resided until 2005.

In 2005, Detroit philanthropist and Mack Avenue Records Chairwoman Gretchen Valade emerged as a major sponsor of the festival.  Gretchen also founded the Detroit International Jazz Festival Foundation which took over management and production in 2006.  The festival offers educational activities for adults and children, fireworks, late-night jam sessions, and rare opportunities to meet artists during the Labor Day Weekend.

Written by Stacy Newman

 


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2003 Detroit International Jazz Festival poster

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