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Don Was Pan-Detroit Ensemble makes strong start at Orchestra Hall – Daily Tribune

Don Was Pan-Detroit Ensemble makes strong start at Orchestra Hall – Daily Tribune


If all goes as planned, the Don Was Pan-Detroit Ensemble will play many shows in the years to come.

But none will compare as well as the performance on Friday evening, May 24, in its hometown Orchestra Hall (or perhaps Orchestra Hall, for those familiar with the mid-'90s ensemble Orquestra Was of Was).

Although the nine-member troupe of Motor City musical stars played two club dates earlier in the week, Grammy Award-winning Oak Park native Was (née Fagenson) brought the show up close two hours as his first real concert. “We're on a mission to bring together the indigenous sound of our hometown,” he explained, and that's exactly what the group did over the course of 12 diverse songs that showcased jazz virtuosity, spirit of funk and, of course, freewheeling Detroit. attitude – with a few welcome surprises.

It's actually been two years since Detroit Symphony Jazz creative director Terence Blanchard approached the idea of ​​doing a show as part of the Paradise Jazz Series, so Pan-Detroit has been in the ether for much longer than three shows. Then again, these are musicians of such a caliber that they could go through the same set of songs once and be ready to deliver them the same night.

The show was in many ways a pan-Was presentation, touching on the many musical aspects of his long career as a producer, performer and executive. There were, of course, songs by Was (Not Was), the band he co-founded in Detroit; With band veterans Dave McMurray on woodwinds and Luis Resto on keyboards – and Steffanie Christi'an deftly handling vocals originally created by three singers – Pan-Detroit opened with “I Blew Up the United States” and later worked on “I Feel Better”. Than James Brown” and “Wheel Me Out”, the latter featuring a long solo from guitarist Wayne Gerard.

The band's jazz touches included Yusef Lateef's “Nubian Lady” and Henry Threadgill's “I Can't Wait Til I Get Home,” while Fat Freddie's Drop cover “Midnight Marauders” offered reggae flavors. Olu Dara's cool “Neighborhoods” and Cameo's funky “Insane” inspired extensive digging, and the band saluted Was's joining Bob Weir's Rat Dogs with show-closing renditions of “Shakedown Street » and “Loser” by Grateful Dead.




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