"Music With an African World View"

    Known as THE ensemble with a formidable African world view, IN THE TRADITION is well known for their dynamic concert appearances as they are for their top-rated recordings. Their performances are eagerly awaited in the Jazz, World Beat and political communities. Among the many highlights in the history of In The Tradition are these:

  • Backing Orchestra for the stage musical "The Spirit of Hitsville" presented October 2007 at the Gem theater in Detroit
  • 2009 appearance at the African World Festival in Detroit Michigan
  • Their recording "Sirius" was listed among the top 10 CD Baby Jazz sub-genre African music releases in 2012
  • 2012 original musical production entitled "Afro Jazz Extravaganza" presented at Detroit's Charles Wright Museum of African American History in February and August 2012
  • June 19th 2013 performed a original Stage production entitled "Pathways to Freedom" at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati Ohio in celebration of Juneteenth.
  • Performed at the 2014 Grand Rapids Jazz Festival.
  • Performed at the 2015 Detroit African World Festival openining for Damien Marley.
  • As a band nominated for a 2016 Black Power Music Award
  • 2017 Detroit Music Award nomination for top Detroit Jazz Musician (Olujimi Tafataona)
  • 2017 Detroit music award nomination for top Jazz Musician (Kenneth Gill)
  • Their performances include special packages for Colleges and Schools. For further information contact them at 313-918-7174 or 313-926-1747. You can also email them at olujimi@inthetraditionjazz.net for further inquiries. We also perform for traditional African weddings and ceremonies.

News and Upcoming Events

NEWEST!WE'RE BACK! In The Tradition returns to the stage in 2022-23 In the Tradition Presents "A Jazzy Kwanzaa Night"
When: Fri., Dec. 30, 2022 7:30-10 p.m. Ashe;!

Detroit’s In the Tradition Jazz Ensemble will add musical warmth to the Kwanzaa holiday season in a performance, "A Jazzy Kwanzaa Night," at Aretha’s Jazz Café, 350 Madison St., on Friday, December 30, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. The band will offer up original compositions written by band leader Olujimi (O-loo-gee-me) Tafataona, as well as traditional jazz standards. “We invite our loyal followers, as well as first-time patrons, to join us as we celebrate Kwanzaa by giving creative expression to the Fifth Principle of Nia (Purpose),” said Olujimi.

Black History

From The Desk Of Billy Hamilton: 2021 March edition of the Mayflower Music Series featured not only a packed house of music lovers but also the largest band I’ve ever seen on the MMS stage. Actually, only half of the 10-piece jazz ensemble known as In The Tradition fit on the stage. The five-piece horn section was set up on the floor, and the effect of those ten excellent musicians reminded me of Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” studio concept. They just filled the room and everyone’s head with some wonderful arrangements of a wide variety of jazz tunes, all delivered with ITT’s special signature.
Their website describes them as an “African-centered jazz ensemble,” and they put a unique and authentic polyrhythmic African spin on every tune, each one anchored by drums, congas, and a variety of percussion instruments.
While I do not have every band member’s name in front of me at this time, I can mention the few than I have. The band’s leader is Olujimi Tafataona, who plays flute and saxophones and was nominated, along with trombonist Kenny Gill, for a 2017 Detroit Music Award in the Outstanding Musician category. Tafataona conducted the band from his place in the five-piece horn section, which also featured some great solo work by the soprano saxophonist on ITT’s arrangement of “God Bless the Child.”
Vocalist Jara Michelle McKinney is a masterful singer with a range of versatile styles including jazz, spoken word, and call and response. For me, her brightest moments were the ones she devoted to a swinging blues tune by Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, which she counted off by slapping herself on the derriere! Between vocal duties, she displayed her flawless timing on a variety of percussion instruments throughout the night. Her percussion, combined with flawless beats from the drummer and the steadfast conga/djembe player, made up a big part of ITT’s big, polyrhythmic, syncopated sound
Bassist Alex Webb was a joy to watch as well as to listen to. He more or less attacks the bass and squeezes every ounce of feeling out of every note he plays. He presents each note individually, voicing it or muting it, sustaining or cutting it off, giving it its own special volume and dynamic. While he plays each note separately, they all flow together like a river moving unstoppably downstream toward the ocean. The keyboard player Foluke Shearer resplendent in purple, was versatile and distinctive, blending lush chords with touching soulful figures in his precise and moving solos that fit each tune perfectly.
All the other members of the 10-piece group (celebrating its 24th anniversary this year!) were stellar musicians, united in bringing their unique and finely honed sound to the most astute and attentive music audience to be found anywhere.
The fine MMS culinary staff served up a tasty buffet dinner and took great care of us all throughout the night, as usual, and MMS Coordinator and Emcee Maxine Michaels of WRCJ-90.9 FM was on hand to supervise the event with her classic style and grace, just as she does the first Saturday of every month, 7:00-10:00 PM, at the Mayflower CUCC, 7301 Curtis Detroit. Fine music, food, fellowship, and fun in a warm family atmosphere are all available for only a $20 minimum donation at the door. It’s the best musical deal in town and probably in the free world. So, while we’re waiting for next month’s edition, let’s all tune in to Maxine’s show, “Maxology,” every Friday night, 7:00-11:00 PM, on WRCJ—90.9 FM. There, you too can be “Maxologized,” as so many others have been! BH

Black History

IN THE TRADITION was covered by Michigan magazine, "M-LIVE" at the Saginaw African Cultural Festival, Kwanzaa Jazz Celebration and Feast. CLICK HERE to read the article.
In The Tradition would like to wish all of you the happiest of holiday seasons. Join us as we celebrate Kwanzaa this year in Saginaw.The event takes place at the First Ward Community Center, 1410 N. 12th Street, Saginaw Michigan Tuesday December 31st. The program lasts from 4 pm until 7 pm. For further information call (989)753-0411. We look forward to meeting the community. Admission is free. God Bless you all. Ashe' !

A Tribute to Our Brother, Fred D. Hicks


Once again In The Tradition is deeply saddened by the loss of a member of the In The Tradition family. Our website designer, and long time close friend Fred Dean Hicks passed away on Janurary 30, 2019. Fred and his business partner, website designer Pierre Allen, created our first website six years ago. Fred, Pierre and band leader Olujimi Tafataona have known each other since elementary school. As a major inspiration and dear friend he will be dearly missed. May he Rest In Power. Our heartfelt sympathies also go out to his children, grand children and the entire Hicks Family. We were truly Blessed to have him walk in our midst. God be with you all.

50th anniversary

We the members of In The Tradition always look forward to the celebration of African History Month. It puts us in touch with our spiritual cells and further strengthens our ancestral alliances. This month is a natural for us and we look forward to kicking off our events for the rest of the Year!


Introducing our latest recording "Ancestral Alliances". Released September 10th 2017 to much anticipation, this recording lives up to it's promise. Not to be missed are the songs "War Is Here", "We Cry Freedom", "Footprints" and "Assata". Click on the CD cover to hear samples and/or purchase.


Thank You to all of you who came to our 24th Anniversary/CD release party celebration. You all made it such a memorable experience, one that we will cherish forever! Thank you to Mayflower Congregational Church for your love and support, andl thank you to the community for being there for us. You made it possible. God is good! Stay tuned for our next event. We hope to see you there. God Bless!


In The Tradition was nominated for a 2017 Detroit Music Award in the Band category, and two of our band members (Olujimi Tafataona and Kenny Gill) were nominated for individual Awards in the Outstanding Musician category. On behalf of the entire group we offer our humble gratitude for the nominations and the recognition of our musical efforts. In The Tradition is: 1. Mark Berger, Baritone Saxophone, Saxophones, Bassoon, Woodwinds; 2. David Cheney, Drums, Percussion; 3. Dr. Kefentse Chike, Djembe, Congas, Percussion; 4. Karim Tabu Gideon, Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Mellophonium, Brass; 5. Kenneth Gill, Trombone, Euphonium, Brass; 6. Aurora Harris, Spoken Word; 7. Imari Akua Jendayi, Vocals, Violin, Shakere, Kalimba, Ballophone, Percussion; 8. Foluke Shearer, Piano, Keyboards; 9. Olujimi Tafataona, Saxophones, Flutes, Woodwinds, Composer, Arranger, Leader; 10. Alex Webb, Acoustic and Electric Basses.

Congratulations to In The Tradition's Olujimi Tafataona (Saxophones/Flutes) and Kenneth Gill (Trombone/Euphonium) for being nominated respectively for the Detroit Music Awards in the Outstanding Musician category for 2017! LONG LIVE the indomitable creativity that dwells in the Afrikan Spirit!


"Our appearance in Muskegon on February 25th 2017 was a wonderful experience and our time with the audience was so enriching. We also got to spend time with our friend Ruth of Ruth's Deli and soul food Palace and our friend Charles Fair of the MBA Journal. The day was so spiritual for us. Until we meet again!"


Join In The Tradition as we continue to commemorate African history. The commemoration continues at the Hackley Public Library, Saturday February 25th, 316 W. Webster Ave, in Muskegon, Michigan. The music begins at 2 o'clock and all are welcome. Long live the indomitable creativity that dwells in the Afrikan Spirit! Ashe!


February has been deemed African History Month, and In The Tradition (The foremost African centered jazz group in the world) would like to invite you to come out and celebrate it with us at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library this Sunday at 2 o'clock p.m. The library is located at 40900 Romeo Plank Road in Clinton Township Michigan 49032. Everyone is welcome to come and partake and enjoy the spirit of upliftment and African Unity. We hope to see you there. Ashe!


We are proud to announce to our friends, family and fans that In The Tradition has been nominated for the 2016 Black Power Music Award. The celebration will take place in Atlanta Georgia in November of 2016. We are humbled and honored to be nominated for such a beautiful and prestigious award. We'll see you in Atlanta. Ashe!


Juneteenth Celebration

Jazz In The Park


The Band

Click Photos For Bio.

And, Introducing- The SANKOFA HORNS!


The Music

(click on an album to listen)


SIRIUS is our latest release on the AFJ label. Its been well received in the Jazz world. All around the world SIRIUS has opened up to rave reviews.


Released in 2009, The Tradition Continues showcases the unique writing style of Olujimi Tafataona Every track highlights the fused combination of Afrikan rhythms, the syncopation of Bee-Bop and Jazz. Enjoy!


From the language of Swahili comes FIKIRA, which translates to "thought, the state or condition of thinking". FIKIRA features compositions written for the consious mind. Come along on a journey to fill your body and soul with FIKIRA!

In The Tradition TV, Radio & Print Interviews

Learn About our Team & Culture.

NU-DAY Interview

On July 15, 2014, Olujimi Tafataona was interviewed on the blogtalk radio program "NU DAY" by Empress Phile Chionesu. The subject of discussion was the influence of John Coltrane and the spiritual aspects of his music. To listen, click the above picture.

Jazz Network Worldwide Interview

Chet White from the internet radio station, The Jazz Network Worldwide, interviews In The Tradition. Click the picture to listen.

Interview with Imari Akua Jendayi

On Oct. 21, 2016 Maxine Michaels, renowned jazz deejay for radio station WRCJ interviewed Imari Akua Jendayi of In The Tradition and the Detroit Ladies of Jazz.

Click to Listen.

Origins of Jazz Interview (and more!)

Interview with Olujimi at The Origins of Jazz Explored at Pine Bluff, AK Arts Center.

Click the picture above to read print reviews.
**READ review of In The Tradition’s December 5th 2014 Appearance at Mayflower Congregational Church’s Mayflower Jazz Series.
CLICK HERE to listen to the April 2015 interview on Blogtalk Radio with In The Tradition band leader OLUJIMI TAFATAONA.
CLICK HERE to view our video perfomances

Contact Us

We’re currently working on new projects. We look forward to hearing from you.

Contact Details

  • olujimi@inthetraditionjazz.net
  • Olujimi Tafataona - 313-424-3900

  • In the Tradition and AFJ Records are based in Detroit, MI. If you would like us to perform or host your event, please contact us via the email form, or the phone number listed above. If you're sending email please allow us 24 to 48 hours to respond to your requests. Thank You for visiting with...

    " In The Tradition. "