Ypsilanti summer jazz concert series moves to Ford Lake Park

Free summer concert series to take place on Friday nights July 1-Sept. 2

Musicians play guitar on stage. (Pixabay)

YPSILANTI, Mich. – The John E. Lawrence Summer Jazz Concert Series will be moving to Ford Lake Park this season.

Formerly the Frog Island Jazz Concert Series, the event’s organizers decided on a new venue in anticipation of an increase in attendance based on last year’s figures. In 2021, 800 concertgoers attended the opening event. Halfway through the series, the shows saw an average of more than 5,000 attendees per show and 10,000 people attended saxophonist Randy Scott’s performance on Labor Day weekend.

This year, Scott will be opening the concert series on July 1.

John E. Lawrence, the founder of the event, is a widely respected jazz guitarist and an Ypsilanti native. He will be performing at this year’s concert series.

“The plan is to set the bar high and then go up from there,” Lawrence, also a music educator who taught at Washtenaw Community College, said in a release.

This year’s concert series will feature a blend of local, national and international recording artists, including Grammy Award-winning composer and keyboardist Jeff Lorber Fusion. Often attributed with creating the “smooth jazz” genre, Lorber will perform the final show on Labor Day weekend.

Dr. Jessie McGuire, known as “The Power Trumpet,” will return to Ypsilanti -- his hometown -- after a 25-year hiatus.

“All of these phenomenal musicians are coming to my hometown of Ypsilanti, and I’m really excited to have this opportunity to share such great music with our community,” Lawrence said in a release. “This year’s lineup, like last year’s, is guaranteed to please.

“If you missed it last year, don’t make that mistake in 2022. Come out and see for yourself what’s happening here. I promise you won’t be disappointed.”

Here’s the performance schedule, according to a release:

  • July 1: Randy Scott, smooth jazz saxophonist has had three No.1 songs in the nation.
  • July 8: Lin Rountree, smooth jazz trumpeter with multiple No. 1 hits on Sirius XM Radio.
  • July 15: Paula Atherton, female saxophonist from New York with her new hit singles “Keep It Coming” and “Summer Song”. She can be heard on Sirius XM Radio.
  • July 22: John E. Lawrence, the master guitarist with a new dynamic show with songs from his greatest hits CD as well as his new release entitled “Moving Up To The Top”.
  • July 29: Daryl Beebe, saxophonist/entertainer extraordinaire is coming with his action-packed show. His music is featured on Watercolors on Sirius XM radio.
  • August 5: Yancyy, saxophonist and proven entertainer for music enthusiasts of every generation. His styles include jazz, pop, rock, funk, and hip hop. His hit single “My Joy” can be heard on Sirius XM Radio.
  • August 12: Alvin Waddles, the virtuoso pianist will amaze the audience by performing an array of musical genres from jazz to classical to gospel.
  • August 19: Demetrius Nabors, keyboardist extraordinaire for Randy Scott is debuting his new solo project which is gaining national attention on Watercolors Sirius XM Radio.
  • August 26: Dr. Jessie McGuire, the power trumpeter from Phoenix, is returning to his hometown of Ypsilanti for a rare command performance of jazz, funk, and gospel.
  • September 2: Jeff Lorber Fusion, Grammy Award-winning keyboardist/producer and composer who helped invent “smooth jazz”, will close out the Summer Jazz Series with an all-star band featuring Eric Marinthal (saxophone), Jimmy Haslip (bass), and Steve Hass (drums).

Ford Lake Park is located at 9075 S. Huron River Dr. in Ypsilanti Township.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.