MONROE - Multi-Grammy winner David Sanborn will headline the ninth annual River Raisin Jazz Festival.
Sanborn, an alto saxophonist and six-time Grammy winner best-known for his hard-blowing fusion of R&B, pop, and electric jazz, is among the chart-topping jazz acts booked for the free festival Aug. 14-15 in St. Mary's Park.
John Patterson, president of the Monroe County Convention and Tourism Bureau, predicts the festival will be the best ever.
"By far, this is the biggest lineup we have ever had," said Mr. Patterson, an organizer of the event. "David Sanborn has played with the biggest names in jazz to rock to blue and wrote musical scores for movies."
Sanborn, to be accompanied by Joey DeFrancesco on the Hammond B, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 15.
"If the weather is nice, there won't be an empty spot anywhere in the park," Mr. Patterson said.
Other acts signed on for the event include jazz guitarist Chuck Loeb, The Sax Pack featuring Steve Cole, Jeff Kashiwa, and Kim Waters, Detroit jazz flutist Alexander Zonjic, Motor City Horns, and Jessy J.
"Every name on this year's schedule is a marquee name. You could build a show around each one of these amazing artists," Mr. Patterson said.
The lineup continues the all-star tradition of top-of-the line performers of past festivals that have included Chuck Mangione, Spyro Gyra, Earl Klugh, Larry Carlton, Stanley Jordan, Ray Parker, Jr., and the Rippingtons.
The festival attracts as many as 50,000 people from across the region. Admission is free and the live jazz begins at 1 p.m. each day.
"The park can hold 15,000 people and guesstimates from the police [are] that the crowd turns over at least 15 times in the course of a day. There is a steady flow of people in and out of the park," Mr. Patterson said.
The annual Downtown Monroe Fine Art Festival will be Aug. 14-15 in Loranger Square at Washington and First streets in conjunction with the jazz festival.
Festival-goers can hitch a ride on a Lake Erie Transit bus from St. Mary's Park to the square and take the bus service back to the park.
The preview party with live entertainment will be Aug. 13 from 6 to 10 p.m. in Loranger Square at Washington and First streets in downtown Monroe.
Also, a series of live shows featuring regional jazz acts will be held at five eating and drinking establishments every other Thursday ahead of the festival. The next scheduled night is June 17. The 129 Lounge, Cafe Classics, McGeady's Town Pub, and Monroe Street Grill are participating in the downtown series, which runs from 6 to 10 p.m.
- Mark Reiter