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Fans Await Summer North American Jazz Festivals

With the summer season now underway in North America, people are flocking to the great outdoors, especially for concerts and music festivals. VOA's Doug Levine previews three popular jazz festivals that promise something for everyone, come rain or shine.

Detroit, Michigan, may be known as the birthplace of Motown Records, but it's also home to one of the fastest-growing jazz festivals in the U.S.

Celebrating its 29th year, the Detroit International Jazz Festival (8/29-9/1) will stretch its borders to pay tribute to the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a musical celebration named "A Love Supreme: The Detroit/Philly Summit." Representing Philadelphia, are trumpeter Roy Hargrove, saxophonists Benny Golson and Jimmy Heath, guitarist Pat Martino, and this year's Artist in Residence, bassist Christian McBride.

Also on tap are Detroit-born vocalist Dianne Reeves, pianists Hank Jones and Geri Allen, guitarist Jim Hall, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band, and saxophonist Ravi Coltrane leading a special tribute to his mother, Alice Coltrane.

All of the concerts at the Detroit Jazz Festival are free of charge, including a gospel show, a "Here and Now" stage for emerging artists, a jazz talk tent, a "Kid Bop" section, and a showcase of the area's top high school and college jazz ensembles.

Those in search of a musical outing further north can head to the Montreal Jazz Festival in Quebec, Canada. The 11-day festival began on June 26, and is already delivering the most diverse lineup of jazz, rock, world music, hip-hop and Afro-pop in its 29-year history.

Jazz divas Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves and Abbey Lincoln will each be there promoting new releases, as well as piano masters Dave Brubeck, McCoy Tyner and Hank Jones.

More than two million people are expected to attend the 2008 Montreal Jazz Festival. Compare that to the 12,000 fans who witnessed the very first festival in 1980. Music will stretch from one end of downtown to the other, with an offering of 500 concerts on indoor and outdoor stages, in small jazz clubs, and on a cruise boat docked on the Saint Lawrence River.

Far from the hustle and bustle of downtown Montreal are the welcoming breezes of Newport Harbor, the backdrop to "America's First Jazz Festival," the JVC Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island (8/8-8/10). Newport began hosting the festival in 1954, and over the years, has featured some of the greatest names in jazz, blues and R&B.

Fresh from the Montreal Jazz Festival, "The Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin will make her first appearance at the JVC Jazz Festival on August 9. Also coming to town that weekend are jazz giants Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Dave Holland and Sonny Rollins.