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Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog is one of the premiere destinations in the United States for world class Jazz and cuisine. It combines the charm of an English-style pub with intimacy and meticulous attention to detail and hospitality.
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
January 15, 2018





My mother’s voice was always calm and soothing. She took time from her life to read to me. I still can curl up inside the memory of her pleasantness and the choice of her words.


My father had less time for extended warm moments. His voice was firm, authoritarian and final. It was also loving because he was loving which was reflected in his choice of words.


Martin Luther King Jr came along and just reinforced my appreciation for the spoken and written word.


Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day. Years after his tragic death we continue to honor the man and his words.




 “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”


“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”


“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”


“…the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”


I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”


We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”


No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”


“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”


“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”


“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”


“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” 


Martin Luther King Jr had many gifts. He seemed to see truths clearly. He fearlessly shared these truths  and directed us to take action.  How the heck did one man seem to know so much and also have such eloquence?


Martin Luther King Jr was challenged every day of his life, as many of his messages were inconvenient. Others dismissed him for being an inappropriate messenger. He may never be accepted by some, but the words that he chose will survive for many Martin Luther King Days to come.








Dr. Martin Luther King’s opening address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:


God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.


Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.


This is triumphant music.


Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.


It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.


Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.


And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.


In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.


Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for Faith. In music, especially that broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone to all of these.  







When Martin Luther King gave his speech on the Washington mall he used the phrase, “now’s the time” which rings as true now as it did then. He found this command in the music of Charlie Parker. Dr King was criticized for his urgency to affect change. He, however, felt that those suffering from injustice deserved justice now.





“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”  MLK


“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”  MLK


John Osler






January 17 – January 20








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Pianist Charles Boles at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe   /   Photo: John Osler



Friday and Saturday are typically the most popular nights for live Jazz performances. But, at the Dirty Dog, Tuesday nights with the The Charles Boles Quartet are becoming quite the choice for serious Jazz fans. The Tuesday audience has been growing steadily since patrons are discovering the perfect combination of fine dining, a warm and friendly atmosphere, and some of the best live Jazz in town.



Charles Boles has been a well-established Detroit musician from the Hastings Street days to his latest regular gig, at the Dirty Dog in Grosse Pointe since mid-2012. Boles took over the late Johnnie Bassett’s Tuesday night spot at the club.



Pianist, composer, arranger and educator,  Charles Boles, was born in Detroit on June 8, 1932 and grew up in the musically rich Black Bottom neighborhood formerly on Detroit’s east side. His mother was a pianist and his first teacher and mentor. She started him with lessons at age 5 after her cousin, the great Fats Waller, encouraged her do to so. By age 12 he began lessons with the well-respected pianist/educator, Barry Harris, and was sitting in with Detroit’s top Jazz musicians such as Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers and Tommy Flanagan.



Over the decades he’s worked with everyone from B.B. King, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye to Etta James, Dinah Washington and countless others. As an educator, he has taught many area students and professionals private and also at Oakland University and Detroit Public Schools. Although It was long overdue, he released his first album, Blue Continuum”, at age 81, on Mack Avenue’s Detroit Music Factory label, which received wide national acclaim.






Currently he has built quite a loyal following for his residency at the Dirty Dog on Tuesdays with his all-star band consisting of some of Detroit’s most well-known and successful veteran artists. Ron English and James Hughes alternate the soloist spot on a regular basis.



The Charles Boles Quartet  /  Photo: Detroit Music Factory Records



Charles Boles plays everything from Jazz standards to many original compositions including those penned by Dirty Dog owner and Jazz impresario, Gretchen Valade, who is also a talented song writer. Boles consistently honors her with a tribute each week by playing one or more of her songs.



Guitarist Ron English is a well-respected member of Detroit’s music community. He has played contemporary styles since the 1960’s with a diverse repertoire of Jazz, Blues, and Avant-Garde, Motown, Funk and Gospel and had the opportunity to be a touring musician with the Four Tops, Supremes, Gladys Knight and others.



Saxophonist James Hughes, is part of the outstanding Hughes/Smith Quintet with trumpeter Jimmy Smith. An excellent group who will be headlining again at the Dirty Dog this week from January 17-20.



John Dana, is a multi-talented, go-to Detroit area bassist that’s played with a wide variety of local and national Jazz ensembles for many decades.



Drummer Renell Gonsalves, who’s been a fixture on the Detroit Jazz scene for many years, is also the son of the legendary tenor saxophonist, Paul Gonsalves best known for his work with the Duke Ellington Orchestra.



Boles says he loves playing at the Dirty Dog for many reasons including having the creative freedom to play what he wants to and the fact that the audience is very receptive, and responsive to the music.



Serious music fan and a Dirty Dog regular, Don Badaczewski,  says he loves Tuesdays for “two words and one reason”,  Charles Boles.





Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.


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January 9, 2018


In my last blog of 2017 I recalled my thoughts of the past year that included:



Carl’s smile and Willie saying: DIRRRRTY DAWG!!!


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In response to this  blog, I received a comment from Bettye Wright.




Bettye’s brother, Gene Dunlap, is a drummer, a bandleader and is one of Detroit’s great jazz men. Bettye’s comment takes us far beyond just jazz and this one jazz club, albeit the Dirty Dog is possibly one of the world’s finest jazz clubs. It talked about the kindness and thoughtfulness that comes from being part of an extended family.




Here is her comment:




I needed to tell you how much I enjoy reading your blog. You are so correct. Carl is so personable, Willie is incredible and consistent, ( he) does not ever seem to have an off day. We were recently there when my brother, Gene Dunlap, was playing.  This month is bittersweet for our family. The staff of the Dirty Dog played such a critical role in Gene’s life


( back in 2016). The love, affection and support ( that was provided ) to Gene when he lost his only child, Brianna, in 2016 was awesome, to use one word .


Thank you Gretchen and everyone at the Dirty Dog,

Bettye Wright



In Bettye’s comment she talked about something that I have observed ever since I first stopped in for a beer and some jazz 6 years ago. The Dog is an authentically friendly place. Everyone is treated as family. Families need a place to talk things out.





Thank you Bettye for sharing your thoughts. It got me to thinking about the wealth of upbeat stories that exist in our community and that this space can help bring them forward.






Bettye Wright’s comment made me realize how important it is to have positive conversations.


This year I would like to start an upbeat conversation in this blog about Detroit, jazz, food, art, and sometimes the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe


The Dirty Dog because of a history of excellence and a philosophy of respect for the music and the listener has been by any measure a success. The Dirty Dog has earned a solid reputation and has attracted customers who have  an interest in jazz and know a good thing when they have it.






 Guest bloggers would discuss jazz and art in Detroit. These bloggers could include jazz musicians and our knowledgeable customers.


My personal insight into what makes the Detroit and the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe click.


There will be a lot to talk about about in 2018 with so much dynamic growth in jazz and Detroit.


We will make it easy to join in the conversation and look forward to an upbeat new year.



The new year at the the Dirty Dog will begin by presenting







Wendell was born in Detroit, Michigan.He studied with one of our great pianist Barry Harris. He began playing clarinet at age seven. He switched to tenor saxophone at 14 when he first performed professionally. His early gigs included backing up Marvin Gaye




In 1971, Wendell returned from New York and reconnected with Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney and trombonist Phil Ranelin. Together they.formed the Tribe record label and artist collective.The group also included drummer and composer Doug Hammond, pianist Kenny Cox, trumpeter Charles Moore, pianist David Durrah, and bassist Ron Brooks. The Detroit stalwarts in Tribe started a new dialog in the jazz community and didn’t hesitate to address social change. The jazz community still has a lot to say.


Let’s keep the conversation going.


John Osler




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January 8, 2018







Wendell Harrison has been synonymous with Detroit’s contemporary Jazz sound for more than four decades. He brings his talents to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café along with the Wendell Harrison Jazz Ensemble January 10-13 with two sets each night.



His music has always been considered very expressive as it reflects his deep involvement in political, artistic and spiritual consciousness.



Jazz instrumentalist/composer/producer Wendell Harrison was born October 1, 1942 in Detroit. He began playing clarinet at age 7 and tenor saxophone at 14 while at Northwestern High School. He then started formal training with the great Detroit pianist and educator, Barry Harris. He first performed professionally in Detroit while backing Marvin Gaye as part of Choker Campbell’s band.



After moving to New York he began performing with such impressive artists as Grant Green, Big Maybelle, and Sun Ra. He also toured with Hank Crawford along with Marcus Belgrave and Jimmy Owens, and appeared on four of Crawford’s albums on Atlantic Records from 1965-67.



In 1969 Harrison formed the world-renowned Tribe record label and artist collective along with saxophonist Phil Ranelin, Harold McKinney and Marcus Belgrave. Tribe reflected the growing political consciousness of the period. The group also included drummer and composer Doug Hammond, pianist Kenny Cox, trumpeter Charles Moore, and bassist Ron Brooks.






Harrison and his first wife, Patricia, also published Tribe magazine, which was dedicated to political issues, and the arts.In 1972, he and Phil Ranelin produced “Message from the Tribe” which was the epitome of the new and emerging Detroit Jazz sound which incorporated BeBop, Post Bop, Funk, Blues and more.



In 1978, Wendell co-founded Rebirth, Inc. along with Harold McKinney which is a Jazz performance and education organization. Their mission is to “educate youth and the greater community about Jazz through workshop and concert presentations throughout the Midwest”. Many well-known Jazz artists, such as Geri Allen, Jimmy Owens, James Carter, Eddie Harris, Leon Thomas, and Woody Shaw participated in Rebirth’s programs.



In the early 1990s, Wendell Harrison was awarded the title of “Jazz Master” by Arts Midwest, a regional organization partnered with the National Endowment For the Arts.



Harrison’s recordings under the Tribe label are now collector’s items and they continue to have a large following in Europe and Asia, as he has played all over the world to build a loyal following.





Wendell Harrison on the WTVS program “Detroit Performs”



Over the years he has been a very prolific recording artist having made 20 albums as a leader and 24 other recordings as well.



Wendell Harrison continues to hold the position of artistic director of Rebirth, organizing and executing workshops and residencies in school music programs. He also continues to perform and record, collaborating on sessions with significant current artists such as Proof, Amp Fiddler, Don Was, and Will Sessions.



This week at the Dirty Dog, The Wendell Harrison Jazz ensemble will be featuring the well-orchestrated works composed by his current wife, the amazing pianist/composer Pamela Wise Harrison, including many from her new album “A Message from the Tribe”. Here she blends be-bop, Latin, Funk, Blues, and Soulful Jazz standards. She and Wendell have worked on recordings of their original music for many years.



The band also includes Terry Kimura, trombone, Jacob Schwantz, guitar, Mike Palazolo, bass, and Louis Jones on drums.





Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.



















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January 2, 2018


Listed Alphabetically by Artist / Album / Label *


Ambrose Akinmusire / A Rift in Decorum / Blue Note




Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band / Body and Shadow / Blue Note




Joey DeFrancesco and the People / Project Freedom / Mack Avenue




Tigran Hamasyan / An Ancient Observer / Nonesuch






Charles Lloyd New Quartet / Passin’ Thru / Blue Note





Christian McBride Big Band / Bringin’ It / Mack Avenue




Brad Mehldau and Chris Thile / Self-titled / Nonesuch




Stanton Moore / With You In Mind / Cool Green




Miles Mosley/ Uprising / Verve




Cecile McLorin Salvant / Dreams and Daggers / Mack Avenue




Kareem Riggins / Headnod Suite / Stones Throw




Christian Sands / Reach / Mack Avenue







*The Jazz playlist reflects Judy Adams’ personal recommendations and does not represent those of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe or Mack Avenue Records



Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.





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December 25, 2017





How do we follow a year of positive change like the last few years?  Street lights have come back on. Building cranes can be seen where only hope lived before. Ideas have started to be listened to and financing is becoming more generally available. Detroiters allow themselves some time to enjoy the good things that have always been here. New shiny things have been added, and music can be heard coming out of newly occupied buildings.


Wayne Shorter in his role as artist in residence played four gigs at the Detroit Jazz Festival last Labor day weekend. The crowds who are known for being the worlds most knowledgeable group of fans in jazz were predictably enthusiastic. Despite large crowds there was no complaining,  only appreciation and respect. That was the kind of year it was in Detroit.


We continue to appreciate what we have and we are starting to see our recent good fortune bring a glimmer of hope to all our neighborhoods.


2017 was a pretty good year.


It was a year of change. For many, things were getting better.  For others there was the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, a place that doesn’t chance, a place you can count on , a place where you can get lost in the music, a place  where  there is always  a parade of great musicians and satisfied customers, a place where smiles and laughter were up this past year with pure joy trending in the right direction.


Detroit continued to find new energy, and the music in the city picked up on it. In our expanding  environment we felt confident to take more risk and also to pause and enjoy life. There were transitions as we lost some notables and welcomed in some new voices.


 All in all, it was a pretty good year


Here are some things that helped to make 2017 memorable for me:


 Carl’s smile:




Andre’s food:


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The Dirty Dog’s remarkably good natured staff





The stream of young players who have benefited from a chance to try out their chops at the Dirty Dog.


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All the times I have watched Detroit jazz fans listen with so much appreciation, knowledge and respect.





All the times that I have heard Willie saying: DIRRRRTY DAWG!!!


Willie gently coaxes everyone at the Dog to do their best.







Every once in a while we get a chance to start over. We get a fresh start,  January 2018 could be that moment.. We have a less wobbly base to set out from and more tools available  to reach our goals, It is a good time not to be sitting on our hands while remembering to hold on to the good things that we already have. In this blog I am looking forward to having  conversations about the coming year and the positive events as they happen. I hope to talk to and photograph those who will be helping to make Detroit a better place to live.


In 2018 music and particularly jazz will continue to show us the way in. A couple of years ago, Barry Harris said, after completing a remarkable set at the Detroit Jazz Festival,  “Isn’t jazz beautiful?”,  and it was, Detroiters seem to know that they we can be part part of something special. That spirit will likely continue. There will be new challenges to be faced and new energy to be tapped. We will have new stories to tell about the upbeat happenings all around us.






In 2018 there will be Dirty Dog blogs about  food. Chef André and Chef Eli will help us better understand their approach to preparing the special fare served at the Dirty Dog. They will share with us techniques, processes  and recipes.


We will explore the reasons that musicians and fans make the claim that the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is the best jazz club in America.


The creative process in the arts and music will be discussed with other artists. We will also meet many of the staff and musicians that provide such a perfect environment for all that jazz. We will continue the search to find what makes it tick.


An important ongoing story will be the growth of jazz and the incredible programs  and teachers in our schools. Each month we will feature one of these teachers..The folks at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe will continue to do what they can to bring the story of jazz and its force to the communities.  Jazz will be in good hands in 2018


Our community has passed through some systemic stress and we now sit at a crossroads. We have an opportunity to define our future. Jazz musicians have a sense of vision mixed with a solid foundation that comes from their roots. I will ask Detroit artists what their vision is for Detroit and its music.


The Dirty Dog we will be celebrating the resurgence of live music with innovative programs and adventurous menus. The Dirty Dog will continue to be the place to unwind, to celebrate and to be reinvigorated.




The Dirty Dog is looking forward to being part of your New Year in 2017 and wishing that you may  have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to your door.


Happy New Year,


John Osler





December 27 – December 30 + New Year’s Eve





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December 23, 2017





Here is a compilation of our Jazz Notes reviews of some of the year’s best Jazz recordings. We’ll be continuing our list in next week’s blog so “stay tuned”!


Alphabetical order: Artist(s) / Title / Label*





Tony Allen / The Source / Blue Note


This 76-year-old drummer is best known for his work with Fela Kuti, the Nigerian saxophonist and political activist who along with Allen is considered the father of Afro-Beat music. This style blends traditional African modes and rhythms with modern Jazz, Rock and dance based music. This album is very special to Allen as it is a tribute to the masters – Jazz drummers such as Art Blakey and Max Roach, who he learned from early on while hearing their
music on records and radio.




John Beasley / Monk’estra Vol. 2 / Mack Avenue


Pianist, composer, arranger, John Beasley presents his second tribute to Thelonious Monk, born 100 years ago this past October 10. His smart and original re-workings of Monk’s music captures the depth, playfulness and sophistication Monk put into his perfectly constructed (unique) compositions
that have become one of a kind standards in the repertoire.




TK Blue / Amour / Dot Time


Talib Kibwe is a band leader, composer and saxophonist who also plays flute, various African thumb pianos such as the mbira, sanza, and lukembi and other traditional instruments. Born in New York into Trinidadian and Jamaican heritage, he now resides in Paris, hence the French album title “Amour”. His music certainly reflects his diverse cultural background as it blends Jazz with world music. This can be heard in the scales, harmonies and rhythms he uses as well as instrumentation.



Over the years he’s played with such Jazz luminaries as Chico Hamilton, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jaki Byard, Billy Mitchell and others. He also serves as Music Director and arranger for Dr. Randy Weston.



When TK Blue performed selections from “Amour” at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe recently, the audience really enjoyed it. Some commented on how gentle and meditative it was and especially in pieces utilizing African percussion. All in all, folks agreed that TK’s music takes you to a “good place”.



“Amour” is his eleventh release as a leader and features many well known guest artists on its eleven tracks including Warren Wolf, piano/vibes, Roland Guerrero, percussion, Winard Harper, drums, Gregoire Maret, harmonica, and Etienne Charles, trumpet.




Bill Charlap Trio / Uptown Downtown / Impulse


Pianist Bill Charlap’s new album breathes new life into often played
standards. His one of a kind, lush inimitable style draws us closer to these
time-tested tunes that have become true classics. Charlap is one of the best
pianists in Jazz today as he shares his creative interpretations of these
infectious melodies – showing off his very expressive and intuitive approach
and deep knowledge of the music. His trio consists of Peter Washington on
bass and Kenny Washington on drums.





Cameron Graves / Planetary Prince / Mack Avenue

Pianist and visionary Cameron Graves is one of the leaders of the thriving Los Angeles Jazz scene and is a founding member of the West Coast Get Down Collective, which supports a new “brand” of multi-faceted, progressive Jazz from such artists as saxophonist Kamasi Washington, bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner and others.



His dynamic first album as a leader is full of original music that explores cutting edge arrangements, rhythmic patterns, and melodic structure, creatively utilizing the full capacity of the piano as a harmonic, melodic and percussive instrument. His music is so relevant and current that it is luring a new generation of Jazz fans who are drawn to the idiom for the first time.






Carmen Lundy / Code Noir / Afrasia Records



Acclaimed vocalist/composer Carmen Lundy uses her expressive voice in this collection of songs she wrote and arranged, which she describes as “a song cycle for turbulent times. These songs encompass the musical and artistic influences from the African diaspora and its influence on Jazz and other genres – the bossa nova, the blues, swing, funk, the exploration into the avant-garde”, says Carmen.



The songs are delivered by an impressive list of artists, including Patrice Rushen, piano, Ben Williams, bass, Jeff Parker, guitar, Kendrick Scott, drums with Ms. Lundy on vocals, keys, guitar, string programming and background vocals. Ms. Lundy will be at the Dirty Dog on February 9-10, 2018





Roscoe Mitchell / Bells for the South Side / ECM



Roscoe Mitchell new double-CD was recorded live at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art at a special event and exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Mitchell was a founding member of both organizations that supported improvisational Jazz, outside of the mainstream, that explored alternative directions in the idiom. The new release carries those musical and personal philosophies into the present day.



One of the most respected and productive figures in avant-garde Jazz, innovative instrumentalist, composer and educator, Roscoe Mitchell, brings together nine artists from four of his groups, which he writes and performs with. These artists include two long-time collaborators who are acclaimed Detroit musicians, Tani Tabbal (originally from Chicago and now residing in New York), drummer, and bassist Jaribu Shahid known for their work with the legendary space-Jazz band Griot Galaxy, formed in Detroit in the early 1970’s by the late Faruq Z. Bey and others, and heavily influenced by the AACM and the Art Ensemble.





Various Artists / The Passion of Charlie Parker / Impulse



An all-star band pays homage to one of the greatest players, improvisers, and style-
makers in Jazz: Charlie Parker. They accompany some of today’s best Jazz
vocalists such as Gregory Porter, Madeline Peyroux, Melody Gardot, Kurt
Elling and other notables. Each one personalizes and interprets the songs
Parker made famous incorporating everything from neo and classic bebop,
hip hop and more into their personalized renditions of the music that utilize
both modern and traditional styles





Nicholas Payton / Afro-Caribbean Mixtape / Paytone Records



Another artist who has been taking Jazz in new directions is veteran, New Orleans born trumpeter, Nicholas Payton. His new album mixes Jazz with powerful statements from powerful people, (i.e. Max Roach, Miles Davis, Art Blakey etc.) about aesthetics and world culture among other things.



These voice loops are tastefully treated with special electronic effects and interspersed with the music – gently carrying us through the evolution of Jazz bringing the continuum of the tradition into the “now”.





Chris Potter / The Dreamer is the Dream / ECM



Chris Potter is one of the most talented and powerful saxophonists, composers and bandleaders in Jazz today. Readers of Down Beat voted him second only to Sonny Rollins in their 2008 Readers Poll.



His flawless playing ability enables him to execute powerful musical ideas and improvisations that are true perfection. The music on his new album explores a variety of modes, rhythmic patterns, tempos, textures, and “stories” in an emotional environment that is both peaceful and intense.




Nate Smith / Kinfolk – Postcards from Everywhere / Ropeadope



The New York Times described Nate Smith as a “firecracker of a drummer” which is quite evident on his new release, which includes such notables as Dave Holland, Chris Potter, Kris Bowers, Lionel Loueke, Jaleel Shaw and others.



Smith creates a fresh new sound of modern Jazz, fusing Funk, R&B, Hip-Hop and other genres. He treats his band with a collective approach that allows for individual expression. He wrote most of the music on the album, which ranges from hard-driving rhythmically based pieces to lyrical ballads.





Songhoy Blues / Bamako / Fat Possum Records


Formed in 2012, this award-winning Malian band from the ancient desert city of Timbuktu, was forced to leave their homes during the recent civil conflict there. They relocated to the capitol of Mali, Bamako, where they started getting a lot more exposure leading to their upcoming, ambitious North American tour this Fall.



They combine traditional with modern instrumentation and compositional elements drawing on Funk, Blues, Hip Hop, R&B, Soul and centuries old Malian folk/dance forms. Their music is full of energy and emotion. With the title track “Bamako”, lead vocalist, Aliou Toure says “we just wanted to write something fun and positive about where we come from. So much of what people hear about Africa is negative; bad news stories about war and famine just dominate the common image of Africa.”



The new release, which is their second album, speaks positively about their country, lovingly talking about the beauty of the Sahara and active music scene in Bamako. Detroit’s own Iggy Pop is a guest vocalist on “Sahara” which seems a bit out of place but he somehow makes it work.





Pamela Samiha Wise / A New Message from the Tribe / Tribe Records



Pianist/ composer, Pamela Wise is a Detroit original who’s been performing locally and nationally for decades. Her new album keeps the “vibes” alive as she celebrates the legendary world famous Tribe band and brand that came to fruition in the 1970’s. The band reflected the powerful Detroit sound and echoed the politics and attitude of our Jazz scene from that period, created by such artists and composers as Kenny Cox, Phil Ranelin, Wendell Harrison, Charles Moore and others. Wise’s new album showcases many originals played by a multi-generational lineup of artists including Damon Warmack, Djallo Djakate, Mahindi Masai, Carla Cook, Wendell Harrison, Dwight Adams, Greg Freeman, and others. Ms. Wise strong pianistic talents shine throughout.




*The Jazz playlist reflects Judy Adams’ personal recommendations and does not represent those of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe or Mack Avenue Records

Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.

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December 20, 2017



Santa 12 21 15


DECEMBER 26                                   JOHN OSLER   OIL/CANVAS




It is our good fortune to live in Detroit where one can experience one of life’s great  pleasures  –  coming in out of the cold. On one of our cold and blustery days we are fortunate to be able to go to a warm and cozy place with good food, good drink, good music and good friends.







The Dirty Dog Jazz Café wishes all our regulars, and those who are planning to show up, and all those who won’t be able to get to the Dog yet have the spirit of the holidays in their heart a very merry holiday.


May your heart be filled with warmth, goodwill, joy, and may you find lots of reasons to smile.





Please join us at The Dirty Dog Jazz Café for our annual before Christmas smile exchange.


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This week the Dirty Dog will be prepared to help you celebrate this glorious season. Forget about all the anxieties that tend to well up at the holidays. We will make sure that once you pass through into this cozy and comfortable place you will find a genial staff, a kindly bartender, tasty food, good fellowship and Thornetta Davis and her band, who will chase the loop of bad seasonal jingles out of your head.


We hope that you will join us for an evening of good will and good fellowship at the Dirty Dog, and that you find peace and comfort in your home all through the holidays.


John Osler




Decenber 20 – December 23






Tis the season to be jolly,


Thornetta knows that Detroit knows that the blues are all right. She will take all our concerns on her shoulders and and replace them with some upbeat blues and a few seasonal tunes.





December27 – December 30 + New Year Eve





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December 18, 2017


Duke Ellington



John Coltrane



Ralph Towner



Jazz Notes is celebrating the season with a special secular soundtrack for your listening enjoyment. We are not able to share the entire mix with you but have suggested three works that you can download through iTunes, Amazon or other sources. We have however, included “You Tube” clips of each piece.



Our instrumental soundtrack features music by three distinctly different Jazz artists: Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Ralph Towner. The music is both joyful, and reflective as it captures the mood of the season created by nature, as our natural environment changes quite dramatically this time of year due to the winter solstice on December 21. Ancient peoples had the same idea.



This includes the shorter days with reduced light, and the longer nights with more darkness. Temperatures in our northern climate dip down to the single digits and the land is likely to be covered in snow.



These natural elements affect our mood, which can be reflected in music. Our music celebrates the season rather than a specific holiday.



All three works in our soundtrack represent different styles of instrumental Jazz.



Duke Ellington’s “Three Suites” album includes his Jazz version of the “Nutcracker” suite. It’s orchestral Jazz from Duke Ellington by one of the most significant band leaders and composers in Jazz.



The original album was released as “The Nutcracker” in 1960 and featured Jazz interpretations of “The Nutcracker” by Tchaikovsky arranged by Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. It was was reissued in 1990 as “Three Suites” to encompass Greig’s “Peer Gynt Suite” and “Suite Thursday”, Duke’s tribute to John Steinbeck.



His arrangements are brilliant as they retain much of the original works while presenting them within a Jazz framework. It’s an excellent melding of Jazz and Classical music.



The origin of the Nutcracker is a fairy tale ballet for a family’s Christmas Eve celebration. Alexandre Dumas Père’s adaptation of the story by E.T.A. Hoffmann was set to music by esteemed Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).  Since premiering in western countries in the 1940s, this ballet has become a popular favorite performed around the holiday season. The story centers on a young girl’s Christmas Eve and her awakening to the wider world and romantic love.


Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite” overture





John Coltrane’s instrumental Jazz version of “My Favorite Things”, a hit from the musical “The Sound of Music”, is a very inspiring upbeat piece that allows us to be reflective and grateful, especially during this time of year.



The 1961 release was a turning point in Coltrane’s career which took off during the 1960’s and ended with his premature death in 1967 at age 40. The album is a classic that was an artistic and commercial success as it showcased his landmark quartet for their first release featuring pianist McCoy Tyner, drummer Elvin Jones, and Steve Davis on bass. It was also the first album to feature ”Trane” playing soprano saxophone which was on the title track. In 1968 the album received the Grammy Hall of Fame Award, and is considered one of the best Jazz albums of all time.



Check out the excellent new documentary on John Coltrane which can be found on, Netflix and It contains lots of footage and biographical information on this album and Coltrane’s life and career overall.



John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things”




Our third album for our winter solstice soundtrack is the beautiful album “Solstice” by gifted American Jazz guitarist/pianist and composer, Ralph Towner. The album was released in 1975 on the European label ECM known for their signature subdued, gentle, spacious Jazz sound that incorporates subtle acoustic elements borrowed from folk and classical music. The album also featured three other ECM artists including saxophonist/flutist Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber, bass and cello, and Jon Christensen, drums and percussion, along with Ralph Towner on 12-string and classical guitars, and piano.


Ralph Towner: “Oceanus” from the album “Solstice”





Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.





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December 12, 2017




In Michigan in December we are told that there is a sun. As we don’t see the sun very much, this will take faith. We are told to trust that things are looking up. Those who are doing well have evidence and  trust that this is true, yet many are not so sure. Detroit is a town that doesn’t always fall for the lines “trust me” and ” don’t trust them”. Trust has to be earned. We have learned from experience that creating a solid footing should be available to all of us. Detroit musicians keep showing us the way. In a town rich in trustworthy musical talent bands are formed to play honest music. Trust grows out of rich soil and traditions.



That train under the tree was all I could think about. I was hopeful but unsure that I had been good enough. I don’t think that I slept all Christmas eve. I had faith in Santa being a good guy, but I didn’t trust that he understood how hard it is for a boy to be good all the time. I should have trusted that Santa would do the right thing. We need faith  in something to get a good night’s sleep. The goodness of the Santa Claus story eventually sunk in.




We are indeed fortunate when we have the surety and security that comes with having trust in something. When you are in trusted hands you have the confidence to go out and do your best job possible. The experience of Christmas and jazz just point this out to us.


The holidays are a season of, faith, family and trust. In two weeks Christians will celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus.  Jews meanwhile will be celebrating Hanukah, the festival of lights. We all will be accepting the existence of the miracles that underlie these holidays. This requires faith. Many will see the holidays as a jolly way to end the year.


The holiday season comes along once a year to remind all of us how fortunate we are to have a warm place to land. It is a time when family includes all those around us.






The holiday season asks us to think about the stories that the truly faithful believe. We gladly go along with the uplifting music that is everywhere and seek the warm feeling inside that comes with giving the perfect gift. We watch Scrooge’s transformation into the person that we thought he should be. We seek out our own Tiny Tim. People from all levels of faith will plunge wholeheartedly into the Christmas spirit. Belief comes easily to children, and we make an extra effort not to disappoint them. We will spend a lot of time watching the joy in the faces of children.






When jazz musicians close their eyes they aren’t always nodding off. They are generally on a journey of trust. They are taking off into the unknown with their partners’ wind under their wings. They can do this because they trust that they will have the support of the group and they will be gently brought back to the solid ground and back to the melody. Playing jazz is risky business without the solid foundation that trust in the music and the process provides. The freedom and experimentation that is jazz needs a home base that is built on faith and trust.Trust can only grow when planted in healthy soil. When something is consistent, constant, caring and honest, trust develops.






Letting go of the rope when you are at the highest point and enjoying the adventure is the ultimate show of trust. Trusting that those holding the net won’t disappoint you or that your skill of entering the water will prevent disaster. Without trust in yourself or your mates you probably will hold on to the rope and return to the platform that you started from. You probably won’t get the same level of applause as those who had the trust and the skill.


John Osler




 December 13 – December 16




Gene Dunlap will be our drummer boy this week.  Gene has a history of enjoying playing jazz in Detroit. You don’t have to ask him , just watch him at work. His bio shows us that a lot of jazz musicians have enjoyed playing with Gene.




December 20-December23





December 27-December 30 + NYE Dec 31





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