Detroit is known around the world as a hotbed of music. It’s the home of Motown, Bob Seger, Eminem, Carl Craig, Marcus Belgrave and countless others. Much of the music found in this city comes from the streets, and it can be heard on most warm weekends downtown as talented musicians set up small amps, plug-in their guitars and play for those wandering by. Brass instrument players can be found on city street corners blowing jazzy tunes, and drummers’ pound out rhythms on pails and congas at Eastern Market.
There is one group of classy musicians out there that are making a difference in the lives of young people here in Detroit. Those musicians are members of The Detroit International Community Band.
I recently discovered this group of young, gifted players while riding on East Jefferson Avenue at the foot of the Belle Isle Bridge. They were on the traffic island, lined up two deep, playing a variety of marches, soulful jazz and other music styles for the hundreds of commuters on their way home from work. While speaking with a couple of the horn playing members, I was told the group’s mission was to promote the benefits of performing arts to support a higher quality of life for young people across the city, as an alternative to crime, drugs and gang activity. One of the members went on to explain that the band consists of musicians ranging from elementary kids through college age.
The dozen or so players in the ensemble I saw consisted of saxophone and flugelhorn players, trumpeters, trombonists, and tuba players. They were all first-rate musicians that knew how to swing, both literally and figuratively. The music selections played were one-to-two minute snippets spanning a variety of marches, jazz pieces and gospel-influenced blues. The format was a good way for them to showcase the variety of music styles and how well they performed together as a unit.
If you see these guys playing on a street corner or elsewhere, stop and take a listen. I think you’ll be impressed!