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A Perfectly Tuned Evening Every Time...
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.
February 12, 2019


The jazz club on the hill in Grosse Pointe will be one year older this week. Eleven years ago it was nudged into being by Gretchen Valade with a little help from her friends. Today it is a fixture in metro Detroit’s very alive jazz community. It is a destination for jazz fans, gourmets, revelers and  folks with birthdays / anniversaries to celebrate. It is a feather in the cap and a step up the ladder for many local, national and international jazz artists. This upstart venue is now recognized as one of the best jazz clubs in the world. How did this happen? It probably didn’t seem like a good idea considering the economic climate at the time.




The whole world was beginning to experience an economic tsunami in 2008. In our corner of Michigan there was little traffic on the roads and even less traffic in upscale stores or restaurants. For most of us the mention of the year 2008 still sends chills up our spine. It was exactly at this moment in one of the hardest hit places in the world that the idea of a creating a jazz club in an upscale neighborhood was born. How it came about is such a good but sort of crazy Detroit story.





If you have been to the Dirty Dog you already know how the story ends. Most jazz artists proclaim that this is the best jazz club in the country and perhaps in the world. Customers try to keep it a secret so that they will find a place at a table or a seat at the bar the next time they come. It has become a symbol of excellence in the delivery of music, food, service and smiles.


In 2019, after 11 years of respecting both the musicians and everyone who comes in the door they have established a refuge for kindred spirits. Here in a posh neighborhood where they consider a 60 foot elevation a hill sits a giant magnet bringing in all kinds of folks to hear America’s music, jazz. With its humble roots jazz still has the power to inform our souls. It has complexity and intensity and its appeal is growing. Jazz is uniquely expansive, difficult to play and it thrives in the hearts of the curious.


The Dirty Dog Jazz Café remains the home for those seeking good jazz and good ideas.






So where did the DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE get its name?  Is there a deep meaning behind the name?. Is there an underdog story here? Probably the only honest answer will come from knowing proprietor Gretchen Valade and understanding that her response to such a silly question would be, “Why not?”.


The Dirty Dog required a lot of “why nots” on its journey to success. For many people the very existence of a jazz club on the Hill in Grosse Pointe would be considered a long shot. However, Gretchen Valade had a conviction that everything is possible. Let’s just do it! With limited space but with unlimited will, Gretchen gathered the people necessary to create one of the world’s great spaces to hear jazz. It would be the best!  And so it was built with first class acoustics, warm lighting, a great kitchen, and good sight lines for the guests, along with a green room for the musicians. Oh, and while they were at it, they included a meeting/waiting room.




  Gretchen Valade                                Tom Robinson



Andre Neimanis                                       Willie Jones


In 2008 Gretchen Valade  had to decide what to do with a piece of property. She checked in with a friend, Tom Robinson, who was helping her with some construction and shared Gretchen’s  interest in music. Sometimes they  wrote music together. No one remembers Tom saying, “Start a jazz club.” No one did. Gretchen, however, didn’t hesitate to fulfill her passion to have her favorite music just down the street. She thought about the possibility of having her empty building serve good food and good jazz. Her answer was, “Why not?”. Gretchen as usual thought about what it would mean for others. This directive continues to keep the Dirty Dog moving in a positive direction. Tom has made Gretchen’s ideas work. Tom took care of all the how tos while Gretchen concentrated on the why nots, like why not give a jazz joint an English pub feel?  Against all odds with trust and patience they have together stumbled on a pretty good plan.


Gretchen and Tom began their task of converting a toy store into a jazz club.  Construction was started and the job of assembling the right people began.


Success sometimes comes to those who just stumble on it.


Gretchen , once she had the vision for her place, had to make some key hires. She didn’t waste time. Why not get her favorite sous chef from down the street, Andre Neimanis.  With Andre on board she would need someone to run the front of the house.  Andre had recently worked with  a pretty square guy for only two days. Those two days were enough, and Willie Jones, one of the city’s most respected restaurant managers, soon got the call to come and talk to two people who had a  dream.


He remembers his meeting well. Gretchen, hoping to give the project credibility, asked Willie if he knew about Mack Avenue. He thought that this was a curious question. He lived close to Mack Avenue. He said, “Of course I do.” Gretchen was referring to her jazz label, Mack Avenue Records and liked the answer. He was hired. Trying to find common ground, they found a common road. They have stayed on track ever since.


One of the first hires and one of the first persons  that you might meet at the Dirty Dog is the guy behind the bar, Carl Williams.


Carl has an ability to size people up. Long before the internet and government surveillance there was Carl,  someone who somehow seems to know a lot about you and your needs. He soaks up info with a glance. He senses when to be there and when not to be. He knows when you need to be understood. When your spirit needs a boost, serious Carl becomes Carl with a smile. Not just any smile. A Carl smile. It can make your day.


Carl can keep a secret and he can share a story. He can listen, and he can appropriately disappear. Carl tends a great bar, keeps the supplies up to date, buses and serves when needed as part of the great Dirty Dog team.









Do it really well

Respect the music

Treat everyone with dignity

Enjoy the experience





Maybe they knew what they were doing


Throughout the life of the Café, Gretchen’s good natured spirit has guided the management, the staff and the music. Decency, listening and sharing have always  been the bulwarks of jazz. Using these strengths the Dirty Dog Jazz Café has becoming possibly the greatest jazz club in the world.



John Osler




February 13 – 16




What a pleasure it is to watch Detroit’s young jazz artists come into their own. Anthony has become familiar to anyone that frequents the Dirty Dog. He seems to be on everyone’s go to list. He will be bringing his trumpet, his ideas and his pure sound for four days this week.



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February 7, 2019


The award-winning Detroit-based label Mack Avenue records has a world-wide reputation for courting major artists and up and coming talent which is evident with these two musicians.


Artist/Group/ Album / Label


Joey DeFrancesco / In the Key of the Universe /Mack Avenue Records

Julian Lage/ Love Hurts / Mack Avenue







Grammy award winning Julian Lage is considered one of the most virtuosic guitarists and composers in contemporary Jazz. He shares his fascination with various current and historical American musical traditions from Jazz and Blues to Folk, and Bluegrass – all played within an approach that includes creative aspects of improvisational/ musical free association. He does this with amazing technique and an original style.



Julian Lage plays a mix of originals plus a diverse mix of music by Keith Jarrett, Ornette Coleman, Roy Orbison and others.This third album from Lage on Mack Avenue features his trio with bassist Jorge Roeder and drummer Dave King known for his work with the Bad Plus.



Release date world-wide is Feb. 22.



Joey DeFrancesco is at the top of the list of favorites for fans of organ Jazz.

This veteran player’s music is categorized as Jazz just as Julien Lage’s is, but their styles couldn’t be more different which shows us how broad the Jazz umbrella is to hold such a diverse musical platform that encompasses so many styles and periods. In this album, Joey shows us his spiritual side.



Joey DeFrancesco’s new album is called “In The Key of the Universe” and reflects the artist’s respect for the contributions of the early leaders of the free Jazz movement of the 1950’s-1970’s led by people such as Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and many others.



Joey and the band even cover the free Jazz anthem, “The Creator Has a Master Plan”, composed by Pharoah Sanders and Leon Thomas. On top of that he selected saxophonist/vocalist Pharoah Sanders to be in the band along with other other top artists including Billy Hart, drums, Sammy Figueroa on percussion and Troy Roberts on saxophone and bass. It’s an allstar lineup to say the least. The official release date is March 1, 2019.



Organ Jazz fans take note that the Dirty Dog presents organist Gerard Gibbs Feb. 27-March 2. Gibbs plays piano, Hammond B-3 organ and keyboards for saxophonist James Carter and tours with him both nationally and internationally. He also leads his own keyboard Jazz quartet and Hammond organ Jazz trio.



Gibbs did such a great job pleasing the crowd at the Dirty Dog last fall they’ve invited him back again.


For more information contact the Dirty Dog Jazz cafe at 313-882-5299 or go to their website,



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. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM (NPR), where she was Director of Programming and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.


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February 5, 2019





Something called the polar vortex sent dangerously cold weather into the north central states last week. Flesh left exposed to the cold wind for any time was susceptible to frostbite. We were warned to stay put and go outside only if necessary. Many Detroiters stayed at home exposing themselves to cable TV showing us endless explanations of the polar vortex and pictures of icy empty city streets. Living in the Northern Hemisphere we survive because we know that February is the last full month of winter, that the dangerously hot days of summer are way down the road, and that we are better for having the ability to stand up to winter. We feel sorry for those in the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics as they will be soon be facing the start of winter.






Jazz guitarist Randy Napoleon showed up last week at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. The temperature outside the club was indeed in negative territory. The wind chill was maybe 30 degrees below zero. Inside the cozy Dirty Dog it just got hotter and hotter for four nights. The brave musicians surrounding Randy were young and energized. Those who were not curled up with a book on these bone chilling nights and wandered into the club had a heck of a good time listening to jazz music. February in Michigan can help us appreciate the great indoors. When Randy Napoleon and friends got done playing on Saturday night, they had helped drive the vortex away and the outside temperature went up 50 degrees from when they started on Wednesday.  Well done.




It was so cold outside the Dirty Dog last week that dogs were frozen in mid stride.


When the frigid weather sweeps in we tend to hunker down. The streets become empty and, sometimes, magic moments are missed. Again this past Wednesday night was one of those events that those who risked the storm will not forget. Randy was joined by three up and coming young jazz musicians. They played jazz and no one thought about the weather.




They turned out to be the right bunch at the right place on the right night. They lit up the place. There was some well deserved whooping and whistling coming from the bar area. The band had a great time connecting with their music, and their joy was contagious.


Last week at the Dirty Dog give us a chance to be part of a magical process especially in such an intimate club. The musicians tested each other and found common grooves. These were special moments.


I hesitated before putting on my gloves and heavy coat. I was rewarded for my effort and I will carry the experience of that night for a long, long time. I am glad I ventured out that night and richer for having taken the risk.


Maybe the greater risk would be to not go to the Dirty Dog.

John Osler


In February we are expecting more cold days followed by warm nights inside the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.


February 6-9





Rob Crozier is a jazz musician/composer/arranger living and playing bass, percussions and whatever he can find that makes music in the Southeastern Michigan area.


 The Rob Crozier Jazz Ensemble is emerging as one of Michigan’s premiere jazz ensembles. Expect a heavy dose of hard-swinging jazz mixed with Rob’s unique mix of funk and world music.




February 13  – 16





What a pleasure it is to watch Detroit’s young jazz artists come into their own. Anthony has become familiar to anyone that frequents the Dirty Dog. He seems to be on everyone’s go to list. He will be bringing his trumpet, his ideas and his pure sound for four days this week.




February 20 – 23





For all four nights the place will be packed. it will be jammed with those who have an appreciation of our jazz roots. They will be treated to being only feet away from musicians who share their love of jazz and will be playing it about as well as anybody can. They will unabashedly play music that makes one feel good to be alive.




February 27 – March 2





Gerald Gibbs loves what he does. He plays the Hammond B3 organ, and plays it, and plays some more. Here is what James Carter said about Gerald:


“Gerard is basically a continuation of the organ tradition. Playing with him is like getting together with family. He is an individual that is always looking for new things in the music,” When Carter assembles an organ trio, Gerald is the organist he wants.





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January 28, 2019



Most days, I am besieged by noise and constant announcements of “breaking news”. I hear music and see a lot of art that is violent, forceful and sometimes off setting. Too many drivers behind me are in a hurry and think tailgating is the answer. I notice a lot of grim people standing in line at the grocers, some glowering at their children. We are often so driven to succeed that we miss out on the pleasures that surround us. Then there are people like Randy Napoleon. Randy is a role model. He reminds me that life is good and everything will be alright. Randy, by example, shows us what someone going gently through life looks like.



Randy Napoleon (born 30 May 1978) is an American jazz guitarist, composer, and arranger.


He works sitting down, often with a smile on his face. His job is playing the guitar and teaching others how much fun it is to play jazz guitar. Randy’s guitar is an extension of his calmness and joy. Randy’s temperament is a gift to all that come in contact with him.


I know Randy mostly through his gigs at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café and listening to his CDs while I paint. I did have a chance to spend time `with Randy when I took pictures of him for his album THE JUKEBOX CROWD.


Randy and his wife Alison joined me and my camera for a walk around the Eastern Market and then a visit to The Carr Center.




Jazz musicians are usually in a hurry or like you to think that they are. They are in reality some of the busiest people you will meet. Photo shoots can be an inconvenience. This was not the case spending time with Alison and Randy that magical day. It was less a task than a shared moment when we could enjoy each other’s company. It was a shared adventure. It explains why Randy has been sought after as a sideman and collaborator in the jazz community.


It is in this role that I first heard Randy play live at the Dirty Dog.




Randy was touring with the legendary singer/pianist Freddy Cole. Freddy Cole’s naturally calm but sure, gentle but strong approach to life perfectly matched Randy’s. I had a chance to spend time with them in the club’s green room, which became a no conflict zone with their presence. This happens often in that room, as mutual respect is essential to playing good jazz. Randy and Freddy both understand this. It shows in their music.


Here are some other comments which attest to my take on Randy Napoleon and his music.


Washington City Paper reviewer wrote that “Napoleon’s unhurried, light touches lace perfectly with Cole’s, whether he’s answering the pianist’s melodies in short phrases or taking the stage with longer improvisations.


Guitarist George Benson calls Napoleon “sensational.”” He has an all-fingers approach; he doesn’t use just thumb or pick.”


Washington Post critic Mike Joyce praises his “exceptionally nimble finger-style technique.”


Mark Stryker helps us understand Randy’s style: “Napoleon plays with a gentle, purring tone that makes you lean in close to hear its range of color and articulation, and his improvisations are true narratives, a collection of shapely melodies rather than a series of prepackaged licks”.


Critics have also commented on Napoleon’s preference for restraint, as demonstrated by his not showing off by playing fast or being self-indulgent when soloing.


“His melodic lines are clean and uncomplicated. He shows a sensitivity for song rather than a desire to show off.”

Bob Karlovits, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


“Randy Napoleon’s golden-toned guitar lines carry Cole or frame him in all the right places.”

Kirk Silshee, Down Beat Magazine


“His guitar lines are soulful and smart.”
Marc S. Taras, Current Magazine

“Guitarist Napoleon, fresh-faced and youthful, solos finger-style, mixing complexity with swing, echoing his heros, Montgomery and Kessel.”
Peter Vacher, Jazzwise magazine


“From Randy Napoleon’s boyish appearance one might think he’s just starting out. In fact, he’s one of the more accomplished and well-rounded jazz guitarists of our day. ”
David R. Adler, Philadelphia Weekly





Randy’s combination of being good natured, being constantly curious and having a positive attitude is infectious. Just ask his students.He is currently an assistant professor at Michigan State University, where he teaches jazz guitar. He also holds  master classes at universities and music schools throughout the country.


Randy grew up in Ann Arbor and studied at the University of Michigan School of Music. He moved to New York City after graduating in 1999, enjoyed success, started a family and returned in 2014 to his home state after his appointment to Michigan State University’s College of Music as the first full-time professor of jazz guitar in the college. The program has attracted promising students from across the country. He has already begun populating the jazz scene with well adjusted and highly skilled guitarists. He will give us a chance to meet some of these strong young musicians at to the Dirty Dog this coming week. Randy told me that as much as he enjoys playing with his peers and elders he is especially pleased to share the music with those he thinks have arrived.


Randy Napoleon will have  some brilliant young talent join him this week


Wed-Thursday,  Liany Matteo will be on bass, David Alvarez on drums and Luther Allison on piano. Fri- Sat it will be Stanley Ruvinov on bass , Zach Adleman on drums and Luther Allison on piano.


Randy Napoleon will probably find it difficult not to smile as he has a habit of doing when listening to others play. He probably will smile because he knows how fortunate he is. He will smile because he knows something that playing jazz has taught him, nice jazz guys can finish first.


After a day of shoveling,  you may need a dose of hot jazz and warm smiles.


John Osler





January 30 – February 2





Randy will bring his guitar, his smile and some young talented friends to the Dirty Dog this week. You may have already heard Randy as he has played on over 70 CDs. Wow!









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January 24, 2019


Rayse Biggs /photo  by John Osler



Celebrating the Trumpet with Rayse Biggs and Anthony Stanco




The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe brings us two great Detroit based trumpeters in the coming weeks, Anthony Stanco, February 13-16 and Rayse Biggs March 20-23.



As the loudest and highest pitched member of the brass family, the trumpet often takes the lead voice in an ensemble. It dates back to around 2000 B.C. and evidence of early trumpet type instruments has been found on virtually every continent.


The trumpet has played a prominent role in Jazz throughout its history. It’s bright, exuberant sound has made it one of the most well-loved instruments used in Jazz since the beginning of the art form when most instruments were portable as they were an important part of marching bands used in gatherings such as parades and other processions.



From the late 1890’s to the mid-1920’s the trumpet led the band lineup which also included cornet, clarinet, trombone, banjo, bass, and tuba and only occasionally the saxophone which rose to prominence after the advent of the big band and swing era.



Some of the music’s most important artists have been trumpeters including early Jazz pioneers King Oliver, and Louis Armstrong. The multi-faceted trumpeter/composer Miles Davis had a major influence on Jazz for five decades which included the founding of Be Bop in the 1940’s along with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie who also helped create Latin Jazz. For more than 30 years, award winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has been one of today’s top Jazz performers and has devoted his career to promoting the music to both Classical and Jazz audiences worldwide.



A short list of other significant Jazz trumpeters who made their mark over the years includes Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Bix Biederbecke, Chet Baker, Maynard Ferguson, Quincy Jones, Woody Shaw, Clark Terry, Hugh Masekela, Lester Bowie, Roy Eldridge, the recently deceased Roy Hargrove, as well as Detroiters Donald Byrd, Lonnie Hillyer, Marcus Belgrave and Howard McGhee and Pontiac’s Thad Jones to name a few.



World renowned Trumpeter and educator Marcus Belgrave came to Rayse Biggs’ junior high school in 1969 and later became a mentor to Mr. Biggs. Soon after he utilized his many talents and went on many impressive tours with a number of Motown groups such as Smokey Robinson, the Marvelettes and the Temptations.



Since then his talents and musical travels have taken him far and wide to such distant places as Senegal and elsewhere around the globe, performing with the likes of Kem, Was Not Was, The Dramatics, Kidd Rock, Bob Dylan, Recloose and many others.



Anthony Stanco, Photo by Aguanko



Anthony Stanco has done his share of traveling with Jazz. I first met him and heard him play about 10 years ago when he was performing in the Jazz Discovery series I produced at the Music Hall. The series showcased young, newly emerging Jazz talent from around the region. He showed his many musical talents early on; having started playing in fifth grade.



He then joined the Detroit Symphony’s Civic Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Marcus Belgrave and Rodney Whitaker. Soon Stanco started playing professionally while in high school. He was then accepted by the prestigious Manhattan School of Music for his college education and musical advancement.



Currently, Anthony is proud to represent the government’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. “Anthony Stanco and The Crucial Elements” have done two international tours with American Music Abroad. On tour they partake in cultural exchange, masterclasses, and live concerts. Hearing him play is a real treat as he combines his love of and deep feeling for the music with his flawless interpretations of the art form we call Jazz.





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. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM (NPR), where she was Director of Programming and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.



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January 21, 2019







This week we celebrate the life of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. Few Americans have achieved as much change for the good of the country. We can count on only one hand the Americans who have a national holiday dedicated to remembering their lives. Dr. King’s legacy has grown each year since his tragic death. Each year we get a chance to rediscover anew the depth of his purpose, the truth of his message and the sacrifice of his actions. Dr. King sought to correct the course of our nation, he stood fast and he succeeded. We honor him with a special day to express our thanks for his clarion call to embrace change when it is needed.







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.  








Every year on Martin Luther King Jr Day we continue to honor the man and his words.


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.


Martin Luther King Jr had many gifts. He seemed to see truths clearly. He fearlessly shared these truths and directed us to take action. We are so lucky that one man seemed  to know so much and also had 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.


Martin Luther King sought the truth before he spoke the truth. He listened. Maybe that is why he admired jazz musicians.






January 23 – 26





Steve Wood and Carl Cafagna, a couple of Detroit’s finest artists, will bring their tenor saxes to the Dirty Dog. for four nights. They will help us celebrate MLK’s life by listening and learning from each other. They are really good at that.







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January 17, 2019





Is listening to Jazz a private or shared experience?



Communal music experiences have been around since the beginning of time and continue to exist in improvisational forms today such as Jazz, Folk, Contemporary Classical, Dance and World music, Hip Hop and other contemporary forms. However, except for these genre and live concerts, most of today’s music tends to be “personal” and not a shared experience.







In the past 100 years or so we’ve witnessed a dramatic change in how we hear music. With the advent of radio, television, records, the internet, CDs, MP3s, You Tube, ITunes, etc. we have more choices than ever before. At the same time the listening experience has become more detached and desensitized. It is more private and less of a group experience that usually brought people together.



These new devices bring us sounds – but they are still artificial copies of the real thing.  Live music is a uniquely personal and shared experience that can be meditative, and enriching in ways that can’t be felt with a recording. It allows the listeners to pick up on the natural overtones of the instruments, feel the artist’s emotions and watch how the music is being made in real time.



Listeners in a live audience share a communal experience with each other and with the musicians on stage with the energy flowing both ways as the musicians “play off the audience” sensing their emotional and physical reactions as well. As we have pointed out many times in “Jazz Notes”,  all music was live, in all of human history, until the last one hundred years or so.



Admittedly, new personal digital file formats that are dominating the listening choices, are creating mostly private and not shared experiences.



Is listening to Jazz a private or communal experience? Or is it both?



I think it is both because Jazz is often heard live and is an improvisational music genre both  lending themselves to listeners and the performers engaging in a shared communal experience which has become a rare musical treat in today’s highly technical world. Jazz is also enjoyed on recordings by many of its fans.





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. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.


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January 14, 2019





Early in the new year I saw a headline in the New York Times. The article made the case that jazz was possibly entering a new golden age, or at least jazz is getting interesting again. From what I have heard in Detroit, jazz has always been interesting.




It’s a Great Age for Jazz, but Don’t Call It Golden


by Nate Chinen

When was the last time you saw a jazz musician electrify a crowd? For me it was a couple of weeks ago, during Esperanza Spalding’s exultant concert at Town Hall, in midtown Manhattan. Singing the deftly intricate songs from a new album, “12 Little Spells,” she was the picture of vital intensity well before the encore, when she re-emerged in a jumpsuit emblazoned with the catchphrase “Life Force.”


Ms. Spalding is exceptional in every sense of the word, but she’s also part of a cresting wave. The music we call jazz has been undergoing an explosion of creative possibilities, carried out by musicians with an impressive range of new skills and ideas. Some of them have found traction with impassioned young audiences, achieving a rare balance of popular success and critical approval — enough, in some corners, to bring talk of jazz’s new golden age.

I just wrote a book about jazz in the new century, so I might be waving that banner, too. The music’s plurality of style, embodied by Ms. Spalding and so many others, amounts to an extension of the jazz tradition rather than any kind of heretical crisis. The music is meant to evolve, and we’re in the midst of its most wildly adaptive, thrillingly unruly evolutionary phase in some 40 years.


Nate Chinen went on to say.


So why do I balk whenever someone declares that jazz has entered another golden age? On some level its reflex: a resistance to hyperbole, and an awareness that whatever my convictions, we don’t have enough distance to see our moment with total clarity. On some level, too, it’s wariness about any exercise that weighs one era against another, brushing aside the broader context.




I agree with Mr Chinen that you can’t take a snapshot and see a true picture of what is happening. Especially in jazz. Something game changing is probably happening somewhere every night, it is something we would only know if we were in the club or basement when it happened. This is why we go to see live jazz. I believe that golden moments in the life of an artist are only known by the artist. We can only recognize and acknowledge the results


Last week at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café we witnessed some jazz that makes the case that we are living at a pretty great moment to hear jazz in Detroit.





Ian Finkelstein is a Detroit jazz musician. Ian is a phenomenal musician and is part of our current golden age. I first heard Ian when he played piano at the Dirty Dog with the great Benny Golson. Ian was a U of M student at the time. How the heck did Ian get a gig like this? How the heck could a young guy like this know all Benny’s tunes? I don’t have a clue. I do know that word gets out when the next players are ready and they do get invited to the dance. This answer probably is the same answer to the question of, are we in a golden age of jazz?. Jazz is only as good as the generosity of its best players. Great musical knowledge keeps getting passed from one great player to a younger artist, who then spreads the knowledge to his/her fellow sponges, and so it goes.


It keeps happening and the new guys keep not just carrying the ball but moving it forward. Right now Ian is in fourth gear. Ian is usually on the move. When he is not gigging or composing , he is listening intently to all kinds of music. I remember watching Ian go by  me in Ann Arbor hauling his keyboard I swear that I thought he was composing a tune in his head as he sped to his class or a gig. Ian Finkelstein is part of a Detroit renaissance that includes many of our young players hanging around, joining forces and adding new ideas. Fortunately today there are venues where they can be heard.


After hearing them play at New York’s Dizzy’s Coca Cola Jazz Club, New York Times Jazz writer Ben Ratliff wrote, “the band also included two young Detroit musicians, the tenor saxophonist Marcus Elliott and the pianist Ian Finkelstein, convincing and confident, evolved in touch and tone, the kind of musicians New York would be lucky to have. But they were practicing restraint, too, playing in service to the song, and the bandleader”.





Last week Ian had four a day gig at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. The consensus among those who were listening was that we will look back at the experience and remind ourselves how lucky we were to have been at the Dirty dog that evening back in 2019.






Playing bass last week was another young player, Jonathon Muir-Cotton . Jonathon is still a student at Wayne State. Last summer Esperanza Spalding conducted a seminar in the morning before her gig at the Dirty Dog. She asked for a student’s card before she left Wayne State. Jonathan got a call and was asked to play the set that evening. That night Ian was on piano, Jonathan was on bass. Teri Lynn Carrington was on drums and Esperanza was exploding with creative exuberance and mutual respect.



Whatever era we are in , jazz is alive and well in Detroit.


John Osler





Zen Zedravec along with Charles and Gwen Scales are Detroit jazz artists that will be debuting at the Dirty Dog this month. They will be fresh faces kicking off a fresh year.


January 16-17





Zen is a Canadian pianist and saxophonist who  composes and arranges his very original ideas.

January 18-19






Charles and Gwen are vocalists who have been  headliners in Detroit music for some time. Help welcome them to the Dirty  Dog.








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January 7, 2019




I often put things off that need to be done and some things that I would really like to do…. until the next year. The next year is here.  I am going to start to do those good things that I put off until this year. That means I should right away listen to more jazz, find reasons to laugh and tackle some personal art projects. It also means that maybe I lose some weight and some angry thoughts.


Every year we get a chance to start over. We get one more chance to get it right. We get a  fresh start, and at the same time we get to hold on to the good things that we already have. 2019 seems like that moment. 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 make Detroit a better place to live. Music will continue to show us the way. There is something special happening around us in jazz, Detroit and the Dirty Dog. The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will celebrate the resurgence of live music in our city with innovative programs and adventurous menus.






Again this year I will expose my weakness for jazz and all the really nice people who play the music in my home town. There will be blogs aboutfood. 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.


Willie Jones tell us what to expect at the Dirty Dog  each month in Willie’s Corner.


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. We will spotlight 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 2019.


We have an opportunity to define our future. I will ask Detroit artists what their vision is for Detroit and its music. We will talk to some of the Detroit jazz fans who are known for being the world’s most knowledgeable. In 2018 they knew what they were hearing and filled jazz venues and our remarkable Detroit Jazz Festival.


We will all have new stories to tell about the upbeat happenings all around us.


The Dirty Dog will continue to be the place to unwind, to celebrate and to be reinvigorated.


Stay tuned,


John Osler






THIS WEEK January 9-12





Ian is a Detroit based pianist, composer, producer and educator. He’ll be playing a mix of Jazz standards and his own compositions. In past gigs at the Dirty Dog Ian has created and played an original piece for the occasion. Ian is a class act.

Ian has regularly been seen at the Dirty Dog leading his own band and showing us his head nod. Recognizing and then providing a place to help launch Detroit’s home grown talent has been one of the Dirty Dog’s roles.


January 16 -17                                                  January 18 – 19



ZEN ZEDRAVEC                                             GWEN SCALES


Zen Zedravec and Gwen Scales are two Detroit jazz artists that will be debuting at the Dirty Dog this month. Zen is a Canadian pianist and saxophonist who  composes and arranges his very original ideas. Gwen is a vocalist who has been a headliner in Detroit music for some time. Zen and Gwen will be fresh faces kicking off a fresh year.


January 23 – 26





Jazz at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café in this first month of the year will continue at a high level. It is fitting that Steve Wood and Carl Cafagna, a couple of Detroit’s finest artists, will help us kick off this new year at the Dirty Dog.


January 30 – February 2





The Dirty Dog gets the year off to a fast start with Randy Napoleon at the wheel. Randy has guaranteed us that he will bring some mellow sounds and his magical smile to all those coming in out of the cold.



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January 3, 2019




Most Jazz is Serious Developmental Music


Welcome to part nine of our on-going mini series on “Listening to Jazz”. This is one of the important features of our JazzNotes blog which aims to take you further inside the music,  discussing what the music is all about to ultimately enhance our listening experience.



Most Jazz commands our attention and involvement. Most Jazz is “serious music”.



Music theorists usually classify Jazz as a “long form developmental musical artform”. Unlike today’s commercial/pop music offerings that are dominated by “short-form” pop singles and hit songs…Jazz is a considered a “developmental long form” genre for the most part. Much like other long form genre such as Classical, and some folk and world music where the compositions are long enough for the composers and performers to develop ideas more fully,  usually with elements of improvisation.



As a “developmental”musical art form, Jazz allows the musicians enough freedom and time to develop various compositional elements to make the music more artful and the listeners more to listen for/to. The artists have more opportunities to develop the structural composition elements that are contained in  most music. These basic elements are a major part of most compositions regardless of the cultural background or style or historical period. They consist of the melody, harmony and rhythm.



Jazz and other “developmental” genre command our attention because there’s so much to listen for you become part of the musical experience…which is more akin to a great meal instead of a fast food/carry out! Another essential element that makes Jazz “developmental” is the act of “soloing” in real time, “on the spot” while performing live or during a recorded performance. It is very common for all or most of the group’s musicians to play a solo allowing the artist to improvise off of the melodic and chordal structure or “chart” of the piece.



Here is where the artist spontaneously, develops the piece and composes in real time while staying within the basic structure of the original piece. Because of this, no two solos are a like which makes the music all the more experiential to the listener. This is both a developmental and communal aspect of the genre. The improvised solos treat the listener to watching and hearing Jazz being created “in the moment”.





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. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.






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Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.
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ENDS: Sat, February 23 2019
Gerard Gibbs
STARTS: Wed, February 27 2019
ENDS: Sat, March 02 2019
Skeeto Valdez & The Mighty Fun House
STARTS: Wed, March 06 2019
ENDS: Thu, March 07 2019
Emmet Cohen
STARTS: Fri, March 08 2019
ENDS: Sat, March 09 2019
Kimmie Horne
STARTS: Wed, March 13 2019
ENDS: Sat, March 16 2019
Rayse Biggs
STARTS: Wed, March 20 2019
ENDS: Sat, March 23 2019
Planet D Nonet
STARTS: Wed, March 27 2019
ENDS: Sat, March 30 2019