Three Detroit Jazz Classics Everyone Should Know

The former Detroit Free Press arts critic and reporter Mark Stryker wrote the book on local jazz with “Jazz From Detroit.” He explores why jazz was so prominent in the Motor City and how the legacy lives on today with a generation of new artists.

a trumpet being played in dim lighting

Former Detroit Free Press arts reporter and critic Mark Stryker is one of the city’s greatest authorities on homegrown jazz.

“You cannot tell the history of jazz in America without telling the history of jazz from Detroit.” — Mark Stryker, critic

In his 2019 book “Jazz From Detroit,”  Stryker explores Detroit’s role in shaping the course of modern and contemporary jazz from the 1940s until the present day. The book also chronicles the indispensable contributions of dozens of musicians nurtured by the Motor City.

Listen: Hear the full interview with “Jazz From Detroit” author Mark Stryker.

“You cannot tell the history of jazz in America without telling the history of jazz from Detroit,” says Stryker. “This city has produced so many important, influential jazz musicians that the music would not be the same without Detroit.”

The 41st annual Detroit Jazz Festival presented by Rocket Mortgage is being broadcast of 101.9 WDET’s airwaves starting September 4th. So Stryker stopped by CultureShift to share three influential jazz tracks from Detroit musicians.

Three Defining Detroit Jazz Classics

3. Detroit jazz artist Kenny Burrell’s “Midnight Blue”

2. Raised in Pontiac, the Jones Brothers — Hank Jones, Thad Jones and Elvin Jones — release “Keepin’ Up With The Joneses” album featuring the song “Three And One.”

1. The late Detroit jazz pianist Geri Allen makes her mark with “Printmakers”

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  • Ryan Patrick Hooper
    Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host of "In the Groove" on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. Hooper has covered stories for the New York Times, NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.