Jazz singer Isis Damil will be among the musicians performing as part of the 2018 Java and Jazz series at the Detroit Public Library’s Main Branch throughout the spring and summer.

Jazz singer Isis Damil will be among the musicians performing as part of the 2018 Java and Jazz series at the Detroit Public Library’s Main Branch throughout the spring and summer.

Photo provided by James Youness


‘Java and Jazz’ returns to Detroit Public Library

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published April 13, 2018

 The concert series will take place at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month until July and will feature a variety of jazz artists, including pianist Al McKenzie.

The concert series will take place at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of every month until July and will feature a variety of jazz artists, including pianist Al McKenzie.

Photo provided by James Youness

DETROIT — The Detroit Public Library is bringing back its acclaimed Java and Jazz concert series for its 18th year of delicious coffee and delectable music.

Java and Jazz takes place once a month at the main branch of the library and will feature a new performer at each free show. The event is being sponsored by Comerica Bank, which initiated the concert series nearly two decades ago.

“We have been a longtime partner with the Detroit Public Library,” said Patricia McCann, a vice president and national civic affairs manager for Comerica. “They are a vital asset to the community, and we have partnered with them on many things. This is our 18th year sponsoring this concert series.”

The coffee will be provided by Freda Sampson, who is a vendor for Comerica and produces her own coffee. Coffee and other beverages will be available before the concert and during intermission.

“Each show is two hours long and will take place the third Tuesday of every month until July at 6 p.m., and they take place in the Clara Stanton Auditorium on the lower level of the Main Public Library on Woodward Avenue,” explained McCann. 

The Mike Monford Trio is scheduled to perform April 17.

The concert series features a variety of jazz musicians playing a wide spectrum of song selections. McCann said this event is a treat whether someone is a longtime jazz fan or a newcomer looking for an interesting night out.

“It’s all jazz music, and we have a few favorite performers. Jazz group Straight Ahead always starts off the series in March, but we invite all sorts of performers, including several new acts,” she said. “The atmosphere is just electric. Some will be followers of a particular act, others are general jazz fans, and others are just people looking for a fun, high-energy experience.”

The fact that each concert is free means this is a great opportunity to take in Detroit culture without having to spend lots of money.

“It’s free, which is wonderful; the talent is outstanding, and it gives people the opportunity to enjoy an evening in Detroit at one of the city’s greatest assets,” remarked McCann. “Last year, I spoke to one couple who come every year as a date night.”

Among the performers will be Joan Belgrave, a Detroit singer who is a well-regarded vocalist in jazz circles across the country. She will close out the 2018 series on Tuesday, July 17. 

“I play traditional jazz, swing jazz, and I sing gospel, blues, Motown, and I try not to limit myself to a category,” explained Belgrave. “I’m a Grammy-considered vocalist. I will be doing a mix for Java and Jazz. I will be doing some of my own songs and some classics, including some things from Dinah Washington and Billie Holliday. I always try to include some Thelonious Monk and some Duke Ellington.”

Detroit musician Isis Damil is another of the performers, and she said that people will get to see a wide variety of music at many of the shows, not just traditional jazz.

“It will be an amazing set,” remarked Damil. “I like to give people a variety of music. This includes jazz, funk, soul, R&B and all sorts of music that makes you feel good. We want to provide people with an experience, not just a concert.”

She encouraged anyone with a love of music to come out and see what Java and Jazz has to offer.

“It’s going to be so much fun,” said Damil. “The music is a given, people always love to check out what outfit I’m going to wear, and, of course, my Afro is always a big draw.”

“Music takes you out of whatever it is you’re in, and it reaches everyone,” added Belgrave. “It’s the only language the brain doesn’t have to translate. I love to see people of different colors or ethnicities coming together to hear that love in the room. Let yourself be free and let us take you there. This is something that Marcus (Belgrave) and I have always loved supporting, and I will always continue to support a program that provides good music to a wide audience as part of a free cultural initiative.”

McCann said she hopes people take advantage of what she said is a great local source of music, culture and fun.

“The winter is long and this is a great way to start the spring,” said McCann. “It’s a great opportunity to hear some wonderful musicians. Many of them are world-renowned, and it’s for free and at such a great venue.”