The Kerrytown Concert House hosted Edgefest 2023, its 27th annual jazz festival, from Oct. 18 to 21. This year’s theme was “Rescued & Ready” and featured a diverse group of artists who brought new music, both improvised and composed, to the concert house over the four-day festival. Each day brought new musicians who filled the space with dynamic and innovative sound that reached eager audiences.  

The concert house itself creates a unique, intimate atmosphere for the music. Established in 1984, “The House” has become a part of the fabric of the Ann Arbor community. The first floor has been renovated into an L-shaped auditorium that allows for stunning acoustics in an up-close-and-personal, friendly setting. Art and news articles featuring The House cover the walls, adding to the cozy feel of the space.

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In an interview with The Michigan Daily, cello artist Tomeka Reid commented on her experience at Edgefest.

“(Edgefest) has a super community vibe, it’s nice to see the same faces that really support the music,” Reid said. “You know, we play a very unique sect of jazz and it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, so it’s nice to see some of the supporters who are just really listening. It’s a listening room.”

Thursday featured a trio with Dave Rempis on the saxophone, Josh Abrams on the bass and Tomeka Reid on the cello. They play a sect of jazz called free improvisation, which requires musicians to follow their intuition and bounce ideas off each other. 

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“You kind of center yourself, and just try to open yourself up to listening,” Reid said. “I feel like a lot of free improvisation is really just about listening and having practiced enough on your own, and then being able to reference those things when you’re in the moment and trusting the people you’re playing with.”

A total of 18 acts played at the concert house over Edgefest weekend. That number includes performances from Teiku, The Northwoods Improvisers Sextet, Human Rites Trio, Exposure Quintet, Hemphill Stringtet and Oceans And.

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The final day of the festival started with the Edgefest Parade Saturday near the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, where Scarlett Middle School band students were joined by Edgefest artists and community members. The parade truly highlighted what Edgefest is about: community. Like Edgefest, it brought together residents and artists alike to celebrate their love of music. 

By no surprise, Edgefest successfully made its return this year. The House’s intimate atmosphere and outstanding lineup of artists brings dedicated audiences from all over the world year after year. Edgefest presents an opportunity for Ann Arbor natives to experience the innovative sounds of diverse jazz musicians. This year’s edition left enthusiasts already excited for next year’s lineup and celebration of jazz music.

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