The Palmer Woods Association Honors Black History Month With a Private Jazz Concert in One of the District’s 1920s Mansions

Tributes to musical late and greats, and a soul food feast are scheduled for the soiree
Maurice Draughn at Palmer Woods
Maurice Draughn performing at a Palmer Woods mansion // Photograph courtesy of Palmer Woods

A private jazz concert held in a Tudor-style home, built in 1929, sounds like a dream for any music lover. Luckily, it’s one that metro Detroiters can live out. The concert series, Palmer Woods Music in Homes, has presented a number of jazz, classical, and world music performances in historic homes, mansions, and gardens in the Palmer Woods Historic District for the past 12 years. And to celebrate Black History Month, an evening performance paying homage to African-American music and notable composers, along with a soul food feast, is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Fluid in a number of genres, saxophonist Marcus Elliot, bassist Brian Juarez, and drummer Everett Reid will riff off bebop, and avant garde improvisations that take Latin rhythm and blues influences. The trio will also play original scores, one specifically by Elliot named “Light Chaser.” A tribute to the brilliant sax tenor Joe Henderson is also expected for the concert. Elliot’s experience as a musician is extensive; after receiving a master’s degree in musical improvisation at the University of Michigan, he traveled the world with trumpeter Anthony Stanco. The duo visited a list of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Botswana, Kyrgyzstan, and Namibia, serving as ambassadors of the American Voices Project while collaborating with a number of international musicians. The American Voices Project works to cultivate an accurate representation of national life.

Every month, until June, a special performance will be held in, or outside, the storied homes that compose Palmer Woods. There’s no shortage of architectural brilliance in the Detroit district: Frank Lloyd Wright, Minoru, and Maginnis and Walsh have left their mark, along with legendary Detroit architects Alvin E. Harley, Clarence E. Day, Richard H. Marr, William Kuni, J. Ivan Dise, C. Howard Crane, Albert Kahn, and Herbert and Frances Schmitz, just to name a few. The restored homes will also host upcoming performances by women-led world jazz groups Musique Noir, the Detroit Jazz Ambassadors, and Orquesta La Inspiracion. A free kids concert will also be held, prior to the Feb. 23 performance, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Who is your favorite historical African-American musician? We want to know in the comments below!

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