How to attend Summer Jazz Week from outside of SE Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan is one of jazz's historical locations that fans and musicians must visit at some point in their life. Before it was the birthplace of Motown, Detroit innovated a different kind of music. Hard Bop Jazz in the 1950s WAS Detroit. So many of our musicians contributed to jazz, and Detroit was the recruiting ground for famous bandleaders like Art Blakey, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane. A partial list of musicians to come out of the Detroit scene were Milt Jackson, Hank, Thad, and Elvin Jones, Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, Yusef Lateef, Tommy Flanagan, Barry Harris, Roland Hanna, and Pepper Adams. This doesn't include musicians who spent a considerable amount of time here, like Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Benny Carter, Miles Davis, and Betty Carter.

Not all great musicians left Detroit. Many players of the same caliber planted roots in Detroit, teaching future generations of great players. Between Ann Arbor, Flint, Toledo, and Detroit is a region filled by some of the best jazz musicians in the world. Most contain various degrees of its Hard Bop lineage, but have gone on to innovate music in a contemporary fashion. James Carter, Rodney Whitaker, Kenny Garrett, Geri Allen, Bob Hurst, and Rick Margitza are some of our more contemporary musicians of note.

There is an incredible infrastructure of not only great institutions that grow jazz musicians, but a plethora of places where they can master their art. 7 night-a-week Jazz clubs in the area are: Historic Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Cliff Bells, The Dirty Dog, and Bert's Marketplace. This doesn't include all of the various clubs that have one or two jazz nights in their clubs or restaurants. An extremely favorable cost of living combined with the public and private gigs makes for an environment where jazz music can thrive. Many jazz musicians do nothing but play music for a living here. The positive effect of this is the establishment of a high standard of performance and instruction.

The Metro-Detroit Jazz Workshop takes full use of the talent in this exploding region. All of the professors who teach with us are not only college jazz studies instructors, but gigging musicians who play for a living. They are versed in all of the elements necessary to teach a variety of students in different backgrounds.

Getting to the Workshop

Detroit Metropolitan Airport, with its renovations and new terminals, is one of the most convenient, clean, well-functioning airports in the US. Domestic fares are typically inexpensive and many deals arise if you frequent travel sites. Train (Amtrak) and bus travel is also available to Detroit. Book your flight between 1-2 months for optimum deals.


With the Summer Jazz Week taking place at the MSU-Detroit Bldg. in Midtown Detroit (about 2 minutes from downtown and 30 min from Metro-Airport), there are many options for lodging. We are near many hotels of all price ranges. Lodging in the neighborhood exists from economy ($46 a night) to high-end ($200+ a night). You can come on a budget or take a true vacation. We don't officially work with one hotel, but we have researched and found a few that are in close proximity, have good reputations among staff and students. We are next to a rail stop that can take you anywhere up and down Woodward Ave.


Detroit is home to thousands of restaurants of varying degrees of price, cuisine, and close proximity to the workshop. If you want to stay near your hotel, there are still hundreds of restaurants to choose from. Slows in Corktown (pictured left) is nationally renowned for its barbecue, but plan on a wait at peak hours.


For students at lunch, there are restaurants of all types and price ranges in walking distance including a Whole Foods that offers everything.


If you want to add some activities before or after the workshop or you are bringing family with you, there are great things to do, some of them, right on the campus. If you will be studying at the workshop, I would caution against trying to overbook yourself, because the rigor of the 10am-5:30pm days are exhausting. If you want to try to both, I suggest visiting the different jazz clubs on various nights. Baker's Keyboard Lounge, Bert's Marketplace, Cliff Bells (where you will be playing, yourself, on Sunday), the Dirty Dog are all open 6 days a week, featuring straight-ahead jazz, many offering jam sessions. You will need a car to get to these places, because Detroit doesn't offer a very useful public transportation system.


Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum are the two biggest attractions. If you're going downtown, the Detroit Institute of Arts is magnificent. You can catch shows at the Fox Theater or Orchestra Hall. For a free excursion, Belle Isle or the Riverwalk offer a lot. The People Mover Train can transport you around Downtown.


If you want to tool around at Metro-Detroit in the evening, the villages of Royal Oak, Ferndale, and Rochester offer a good time. Grosse Pointe's Village or Birmingham have more upscale shops. If you don't mind travelling an hour, Ann Arbor is the home to the University of Michigan and many unique shops and restaurants.