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Published: Friday, 10/1/2004

Concert, activities set for Ann Arbor's jazz and blues fest

Two of the greatest jazz and blues artists of the 20th century are at the center of this year's Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival as the annual event honors the memories of Ray Charles and Elvin Jones.

Both men passed away this year after forging careers that shaped the sound of jazz, blues, R&B, and rock.

Thanks to Charles' early hits that helped define early rock and roll, his career certainly drew more attention than that of Jones, even though the latter was just as important in terms of his influence on other musicians.

Jones was best known for his work as drummer in the classic John Coltrane quartet, which recorded and toured from 1960 to 1964. But he remained active throughout his career as a band leader and performer, inviting hot young jazz artists to perform with him in the Jazz Machine in recent years.

While the festival officially started last Friday with photo exhibits and musical performances, it culminates tomorrow with a number of performances, including a tribute to Charles at 4:15 p.m. on the main stage on Washington and Ashley streets in Ann Arbor.

They'll be followed at 5:45 by NOMO, an Ann Arbor afro beat band that features polyrhythmic jazz and funk. And at 7:30, Kermit Ruffins and his BBQ Swingers will play New Orleans-style jazz, ending about 8:15.

The outdoor concert is free, and activities start at noon with a number of other bands taking the stage throughout the day. For more information, go to www.a2.blues.jazzfest.org.

Music fans who haven't gotten their fill Saturday can head over to the Firefly Club and catch "Nuthin But The Blues" featuring Chef Chris and the Nairobi Trio, Alligator recording artists Carey and Lurie Bell, and Lady Sunshine.

The first set at about 8 will involve Chef Chris and the Bells, while the second set at about 11 includes the Bells and Lady Sunshine. The Firefly Club is at 207 South Ashley. The cost for the evening performances is $20 per set. Go to www.fireflyclub.com for more information.

The festival winds down Sunday at the Firefly Club with an 11 a.m. brunch.

that will include the traditional jazz and gospel harmonies of the Tom Saunders All-Stars and the Bethel AME Hand of God Choir. The cost of the all-you-can-eat brunch at the Firefly Club is $25.

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