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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.
Archive for
Jazz Notes With Judy Adams
December 13, 2019

Rayce Bills, DirtyDogJazzCom.


Photo of Rayse Biggs at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe by John Osler



Trumpeter Rayse Biggs returns to the Dirty Dog stage this weekend, from Wednesday December 11 through Saturday December 14th. He puts on a great performance every time he plays as he is not only a very talented trumpeter but is one of Detroit’s most gifted entertainers as well.    He’s backed by an all-star band that includes pianist, Maurice O’neal, bassist Ibrahim Jones or Christopher Albert, and drummer Patrick Doran.



Rayse comes from a strong musical background having been raised in a musical family where almost everyone played an instrument. I love it when he tells the audience that he’s never had stage fright because he was always playing for “family” from the beginning.


As with so many musicians, the piano was his first instrument but he soon became interested in the trumpet as an early teen ager after seeing and hearing the great Marcus Belgrave perform at his Junior High school in 1969. Marcus had a reputation as being an effective educator and was known to many young music students as a teacher and mentor, and he soon took young Rayse “under his wing”.



Now, Rayse is an effective mentor and educator himself, working with new and emerging students of Jazz. He has developed popular youth music programs with the Detroit Symphony, Plymouth Education Center and working with various schools throughout the metropolitan Detroit area.


Photo of Rayse Biggs at the Dirty Jazz Cafe, by John Osler



After graduating from Detroit’s Chadsey High School in 1972, Mr. Biggs went on the road with a number of Motown acts including Smokey Robinson, the Marvelettes and the Temptations, and others. This was when Motown was at its peak with with some of the most popular groups in the world.



Later, his brother Travis, a violinist, took him to the Metropolitan Arts Complex, where a young Rayse had a chance to meet Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard, who would “play licks on the phone for me to learn,” Mr. Biggs says. “It was just a blessing for me and my career to have contacts with artists at this level who were taking an interest in me.”



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 a diverse blend of modern and classic styles with the likes of Kem, Was Not Was, The Dramatics, Kidd Rock, Bob Dylan, Matthew Chicoine and Recloose and many others. Rayse’s live performances reflect these exciting career experiences that add to the depth and breath of his music that he shares with us while he’s on stage.





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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December 6, 2019

Ali Jackson


Drummer,  Ali Jackson



Detroit has been blessed with great Jazz musicians living and performing here who have gone on to play on the world stage. As we’ve mentioned in many of our previous blogs, this has been the case since the Jazz idiom developed during the turn of the 20th century and is still happening.



Our Jazz Note profile series spotlights great musicians from Detroit, whether they’re still with us or whether they’ve passed on. These artists have made significant contributions to the world of music whether it’s Jazz, R&B, Rock, Hi-Hop, Classical, or what’s in between. Detroit has an excellent history with Jazz and is now considered to be one of the world’s great musical cities. Some of the great artists from Detroit no longer live here but are taking the Detroit sound wherever they go as they tour all over the world.



One such artist is drummer Ali Jackson, not to be confused with his famous father, Jazz bassist, Ali Jackson, Sr.



Ali Jr. is yet another Jazz artist who went to Detroit’s Cass Tech High School. In fact, it’s amazing how many musicians and artists studied at this outstanding educational institution! Everyone from Alice Coltrane and Kenny Burrell to Geri Allen, Regina Carter, and many others.



Born in New York City, April 3, 1976, art and music education was an integral part of his upbringing. Shortly after relocating to Detroit, Jackson found himself immersed in serious study, mentorship, and training.



Ali’s strong devotion to music started as a youth. He actually began playing drums at the age of 2 and piano at the age of 5. Being a professional musician himself, it was his father who gave him an intense introduction to Jazz.



Ali Jackson (plaid vest)


In 1993 he graduated from Cass Tech and in 1998 was the recipient of Michigan’s prestigious “Artserve” Emerging Artist award. As a child, he was selected as the soloist for the “Beacons Of Jazz” concert, which honored legend Max Roach at New School Jazz at Lincoln Center University. After earning an undergraduate degree in music composition at the New School University for Contemporary Music, he studied under drum legends, Elvin Jones and Max Roach.



In 2004 Jackson returned to Detroit and donated instruments and conducted numerous master classes in the effort to improve music knowledge and awareness for Detroit Public School students. He continues to share his passion for Jazz through educational outreach projects and self-motivated endeavors. Jackson’s musical knowledge has been shaped by a diverse musical career. He has been inspired by many musical genres including blues and funk, classical, Latin jazz, gospel, and musical influences from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.



His discography and performance archive includes such notables as Wynton Marsalis, Arethas Franklin, Tony Bennett, Faith Hill, Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Benson, Harry Connick Jr. Marcus Roberts, Joshua Redman,  Seito Kinen Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet.






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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December 2, 2019




The saxophone is one of the most significant instruments in Jazz and one of Detroit’s most celebrated saxophonists, Dave McMurray, will be performing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, December 4-7.



Mr. McMurray has a diverse background in Jazz, as a composer, bandleader and saxophonist. He is fluent in many diverse styles from R&B and funk to avant-garde Jazz and everything in between.



His shows are usually sold out as he is one of the most popular artists on the Dirty Dog stage. He plays and tours with some of the biggest names in Jazz and popular music. The list is impressive and includes a long list of artists, ranging from The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan to Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins,  Rayce Biggs, Don Was and the  esteemed late pianist Geri Allen and many others.



DaveMcMurrayAtDirtyDog Jazz Cafe...

Dave McMurray at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

Photo: John Osler



He brings this musical diversity to his latest album, “Music is Life”, his seventh release, which came out in 2018 on Blue Note records. Each song is different with compositional elements ranging from Jazz, Funk, Rock, Soul and more, clearly reflecting his multi-faceted career.



“Music is Life” contains many of  Dave’s original compositions as well as covers of the White Stripes, the Parliament-Funkadelics, French singer Johnny Halladay, and many others.



The role of the saxophone has changed a bit over the years but it remains a prominent voice in the Jazz idiom and usually leads the band, “front and center”.



No instrument is more identified with Jazz than the saxophone. The saxophone is to Jazz what the banjo is to Bluegrass. Dave McMurray’s playing, composing and arranging reflect the diversity of the instrument as he draws on many styles and periods of Jazz and modern music.



Aside from Jazz and music for marching bands, we can also hear early uses of the saxophone by some definitive 20th century Classical composers such as  George Gershwin, Maurice Ravel, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Aaron Copeland, Leonard Bernstein and others.



A member of the woodwind family, the saxophone is usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece. It was invented in 1840 and comes in various shapes and sizes:




Another world renowned Detroit born saxophonist, James Carter, here
with a baritone saxophone:


JamesCarter and Baritone Sax




Don’t miss Dave McMurray at the Dirty Dog,December 4-7. For tickets and information, go to or call 313-882-5299.




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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November 21, 2019



dukeEllington.the famous


Duke Ellington / Photo from “”




Composer, pianist, band leader, Duke Ellington, photo:



Jazz has always had a modern element to it since its inception in the late 1800’s. As with most other art forms there have been artists along the way who were on the cutting edge of the next future trends. This allowed Jazz to keep redefining itself and stay contemporary as an art-form; encouraging artists to experiment with new sounds and styles.



Since Jazz was a rather new musical art-form, it didn’t start blossoming out in new directions until the beginning of the 20th century which was a great time filled with new discoveries and technology that were about to change the world with electricity and cars as well as telephones, cameras, phonographs, movies, radio, and much more that had a huge impact on music.



As Jazz was growing as a genre, many Jazz historians list many sub-genres that were taking Jazz in new directions such as Ragtime and Dixieland at the turn of the century followed by Swing and Big Band music of the 1930’s to 1950’s pioneered by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman.  The 1950’s also brought early versions of “Free Jazz”  which was very improvisational with the musicians breaking down familiar Jazz conventions by altering chord progressions, instrumentation, tempos and melodic forms.  Many felt that modern Jazz per se started with BeBop in the 1940s.



The Bebop era  was the most contemporary Jazz had ever been to that pointe in time. With its fast tempos, instrumental virtuosity, unique time signatures and wild scale patterns, it gave musicians the freedom to explore these exciting new territories. Its major artists included Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and others.



John Coltrane performs on stage at the Half Note club, New York, 1965. (Photo by Adam Ritchie/Redferns)

John Coltrane

John Coltrane performs on stage at the Half Note club, New York, 1965. (Photo by Adam Ritchie/Redferns,



Other major stirrings came in the 1950s, with the early work of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and many others. In the 1960s, performers and composers included Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, and others. Coltrane championed many younger free Jazz musicians, (notably Archie Shepp), and under his influence, Impulse! became a leading free Jazz record label.



New forms of “modern Jazz” continued to emerge from the band stands an recording studios.  In June of 1965, Coltrane and ten other musicians recorded “Ascension”, a 40-minute long piece that included adventurous solos by the young avant-garde musicians (as well as Coltrane), and was controversial primarily for the collective improvisation sections that separated the solos. His group consisted of  McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison and Art Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on Drums. ‘Trane described the piece in a radio interview, as a “big band thing” even though it was far from it!



After recording with the quartet over the next few months, Coltrane invited Pharoah Sanders to join the band in September 1965. While Coltrane used over-blowing frequently as an emotional ( emotional free expression) exclamation-point, Pharoah would opt to over-blow his entire solo, resulting in a constant screaming and screeching in the middle and high range of the instrument.



Free Jazz or Avant Garde Jazz started in the 1960’s and 1970’s and was characterized by “free tonality” in which former aspects of the idiom disappeared. It also started to incorporate more world music form India, Africa and Arabia,and  still included elements of BeBop.



miles davis

Composer, trumpeter, band leader, Miles Davis,  photo by



Fusion from the 1960’s to the present was one of the next forms of modern Jazz and incorporated modern Rock, World and Folk music into its sound along with electronic instruments and extended solos. One of it’s most important innovators was Miles Davis who brought in elements of amplified Funk and Rock.



Jazz has always absorbed the world around it….can’t wait to see what’s coming up next!?





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November 12, 2019



The Detroit Free Press wrote last year that “Motown celebrated its diamond anniversary, marking 60 years since Berry Gordy Jr. founded the company that became a musical, cultural and commercial force inextricably linked to the city, right down to the name”.


As we continue to celebrate Motown’s anniversary we reflect upon the close relationship between Motown and Jazz, which included everything from it’s musical elements and structure to some of the actual musicians themselves.


Detroit was ready for the Motown sound because of the nature of our music community at that time which was steeped in the blues, gospel R&B and Jazz.


It coincided with the post-war baby boom genres developing in late 40’s to late 60’s.  These  provided a perfect creative platform for the Motown sound.


So many of the backing or session musicians on the Motown hits were also Jazz musicians with some very active in Detroit’s Jazz community.   Many others also came from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – especially the string sections.


As for Jazz, Motown drew on Detroit’s thriving Jazz scene and hired some of our most well-known and respected artists to play as studio musicians including with the famous Motown back-up group the “The Funk Brothers”.  This partnership included other live and studio performance opportunities including those who were touring with Motown artists worldwide.


Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were two major Jazz fans and players who were known for infusing their music with lots of Jazz elements, and artists.   Marvin Gaye also considered being a full-time Jazz artist as he was known for being an excellent Jazz composer and arranger who also wrote film soundtracks filled with Jazz such as for the early 1970’s award-winning film “Trouble Man”.




Most of the artists in the famous Motown back-up group, “The Funk Brothers” were well known Jazz artists.


These included such Detroit Jazz luminaries as:


Trumpeters Marcus Belgrave and Michael Henderson


Drummers William “Benny” Benjamin and Richard “Pistol” Allen


Pianists Johnny Griffith and Earl Van Dyke


Vibraphonists Jack Brokensha and Johnny Trudell (who also played trumpet)


Trombonists George Bohanon and Jimmy Wilkins


Saxophonists Ernie Rodgers, Larry Nozero, Thomas “Beans” Bowles


Guitarists Dennis Coffey, Joe Messina, and Ron English


Percussionist Eddie “Bongo” Brown and countless others over the years.



Other successful Detroit record labels drew on our Jazz, Blues and Soul heritage. One such label was the world renowned  STRATA records  which was an artist run label, publisher and performance space from the late 1960’s and 1970’s. It included the band Tribe (1976) with members of Griot Galaxy, Marcus Belgrave, Phil Ranelin, Kenny Cox, Ron English, George Davidson and others.  We will write about Strata Records in a future “Jazz Notes” so please stay tuned.



Detroit’s legendary MOTOWN RECORDS  became one of the most successful genres and sounds in contemporary music worldwide and  sold more records than the Beatles!




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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October 31, 2019

Jazz Notes Profiles Gretchen Valade and Detroit Women In Jazz


Gretchen Valade  / Photo: Crain’s Detroit Business



Here’s a Jazz story that’s worth repeating!




The audience at the 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival / Photo by John Osler



One of the most significant Jazz women in the world, who’s also from Detroit, is Gretchen Valade, who is a major Jazz philanthropist who among other things, has kept the Detroit Jazz Festival not only afloat, but growing and thriving for several years now.



A lifelong Jazz fan herself, Ms. Valade a true Jazz “activist”, meaning she actively supports and promotes the music and “makes things happen”. In 2016, Crain’s Detroit Business named her one of the 100 most influential women from Detroit.





Gretchen Valade Jazz Center (rendering) / Photo by Wayne State University


The article mentioned that “in 2015, she donated $7.5 million to Wayne State University to create the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center, which will operate out of Hilberry Theatre.”



To promote the music even further, she started her own Jazz record labels, including the Grammy Award winning Mack Avenue Records, which features an array of internationally acclaimed artists such as Cecile McLorin Salvant Gary Burton and Joey DeFrancesco and now considered one of the most successful Jazz labels in the world.



To promote Detroit’s highly acclaimed Jazz talent she also started the Detroit Music Factory label, which promotes top Detroit based artists such as Ralphe Armstrong, Rodney Whitaker, and Gary Schunk. The list continues with her opening of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, now considered one of the best Jazz clubs in the world which features a mix of local and international talent including legendary artists Ron Carter, Wayne Shorter, Geri Allen, Stanley Clark, Pat Metheny, Barry Harris, Roy Hargrove, and many others.


Michigan Today, John Lofy


The late pianist/composer Geri Allen /photo by


On top of that, she promotes women artists as The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe regularly spotlights such world renowned performers as Tia Fuller, Grace Kelly, Shahida Nurullah, Ursula Walker, Thornetta Davis, Kimmie Horn, Esperanza Spalding, Marion Hayden, Freda Payne, Gayelynn McKinney, Vanessa Rubin and many others. Check “Upcoming Shows” at for more information.

Bassist Esperanza Spalding/ photo



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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October 23, 2019




Diego Rivera (Photo/ Sara Pettinella)



Award-winning, Michigan born saxophonist Diego Rivera celebrates the success of his new CD, “Connections” at the Dirty Dog this coming week.



The new album on Posi-Tone records hit the Jazz Radio charts earning the highest debut for albums released during the week of September 16. Rivera will feature music from the album during his performances at The Dirty Dog, Wednesday October 30 through Saturday November 2.




DiegoRiveraConnections LP




Diego Rivera’s new “Connections” album


Diego Rivera is a real favorite with audiences a the the Dirty Dog where he performs with many different bands including his own group, the Diego Rivera Quartet. This multi-talented saxophonist is also a composer, arranger and educator and has been playing professionally for more than two decades.



His music blends straight-ahead Jazz with sounds influenced by his Latin background and heritage. He is also an Associate Professor of Jazz Saxophone at Michigan State where he is also an Associate Director of Jazz Studies.



Born in Ann Arbor to a Mexican-American family, Mr. Rivera is proud of his Latin heritage. His parents named him after the famous muralist, Diego Rivera, whose world-renowned work is displayed on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts.



While at Michigan State, Diego studied with such notables as Branford Marsalis, Ron Blake and Detroit’s own Rodney Whitaker. He began his professional touring career with the great Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.



An avid composer and arranger, Rivera has written arrangements for various recordings, projects and artists most notably for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Motor City Jazz” concert, a tribute to the music and musicians of Detroit.



His many talents have allowed him to perform at prestigious festivals and concerts in various places around the world including Canada, Europe and Asia, as well as the United States.



Mr. Rivera’s performances at The Dirty Dog, are Wednesday October 30 through Saturday November 2.



For tickets and information call 313-882-5299 or go to




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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October 17, 2019




This week we profile drummer Nate Winn who is one of Detroit’s most respected musicians, frequently in demand to play with various Jazz ensembles both here at home and elsewhere around the world. He is also a member of the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars, a group directed by Wayne State University Jazz Director, Chris Collins, that will be at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café October 23-26.



You’ll hear him playing alongside other highly respected, award-winning Detroit All-Stars such as bassist Marion Hayden, guitarist Chuck Newsome, saxophonist Chris Collins and pianist Rob Pipho,  who also plays vibes.




Drummer Nate Winn / Photo: Sonic



A dedicated musician, Nathaniel Winn discovered his love for the drums at the age of 4… a love that continues to inspire him to this day. Nate has had the pleasure to work with many world- renowned musicians such as pianist Danilo Perez, bassist Robert Hurst (also from Detroit), Pat Metheny and Joshua Redman.  Nate’s multi-faceted, unique style has given him the opportunity appear on numerous, major label albums.



His playing is not only influenced by a multitude of styles he grew up with including Jazz, Blues and Gospel but from of his favorite drummers as well.  These include Brian Blade, Kendrick Scott, and Calvin Rodgers, among others.



Nate graduated from Wayne State University and the highly respected Berklee College of Music,  with a Bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s degree in Jazz performance. Currently, he spends time traveling the world to spread the message of love and hope through music.



Nate and the other award-winning “All-stars” wear many hats as most are performers and soloists, college educators,

composers, band leaders and much more.




The amazing bassist Marion Hayden has played with everyone

from Dizzy Gillespie to Kenny Burrell and James Carter.  She’s

currently on the faculty of the University of Michigan’s School of Music



Chuck Newsome

Guitarist Chuck Newsome, is on the faculty of Wayne State University’s School of Music



Later this month the “All-Stars” wlll be serving as ambassadors of Detroit culture as they perform in Japan at the Tottori Jazz Festival and other Jazz clubs. This was through an invitation from the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation which, like Jazz itself, is a global entity. The foundation provides needed financial support for special engagements, and performances that embrace and promote the sounds and many facets of Detroit Jazz.



chris collins


Chris Collins, saxophonist and director of Wayne State’s Jazz department and the Detroit Jazz Fest All-Stars




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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October 10, 2019


Robert Hurst



Born in Detroit on October 4, 1964, Hurst has enjoyed a exemplary career for the past 30 years, and is a highly respected composer, electric and acoustic bassist, educator, and recording artist.


He has been one of the most sought-after bassists by talented musicians from around the world, including as Paul McCartney, Charles Lloyd, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Dave Brubeck, Terrence Blanchard, Tony Williams, Nicholas Payton, Sting, Carl Allen, the legendary Pharaoh Sanders, Barbara Streisand, Willie Nelson, Yo Yo Ma, Ravi Coltrane, and others. He was also a member of The Tonight Show Band.



Robert Hurst currently serves as Associate Professor of Music, with Tenure, and the Director of Small Jazz Ensembles in the Department of Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation at the University of Michigan’s School of Music.



Robert Hurst has performed on over 150 diverse and critically acclaimed recordings. A select group of these productions have garnered him performances yielding seven GRAMMY® Awards.

He is also a major recording artist having recorded more than seven albums as a leader and 80 as a sideman.





Yusef Lateef   /  Yusef Lateef .com


Yusef Abdul Lateef (born William Emanuel Huddleston; (October 9, 1920 – December 23, 2013) was a Jazz multi-instrumentalist, composer and prominent member of the Ahmadiyva Muslim Community following his conversion to Islam in 1950, becoming one of the first Jazz artists to do so.



Although his main instruments were the tenor saxophone and flute, he also played the oboe and bassoon, which was quite out of the ordinary for Jazz artists to play. He was also one of the first musicians to play an assortment of instruments from many cultures including the bamboo flute, shanai, and koto. He also blended styles such as fusing Jazz with Middle Eastern and Asian music. Peter Keepnews of the New York Times wrote that Lateef “played world music before world music had a name.”



Mr. Lateef wrote several books including a collection of short stories and a novella. He also wrote his autobiography The Gentle Giant, written in collaboration with award-winning Detroit writer, Herb Boyd.




Photo / Atlantic Records



He attended Wayne State University in the 1950s. During that period, he was a leading figure of the famous Detroit Jazz scene although he was uncomfortable with the term “Jazz” and coined the word “autophysiopsychic” to describe music that comes from the physical, mental and spiritual self. The National Endowment for the Arts made him an American Jazz Master in 2010.



Excerpts: From his website:

Yusef Lateef introduced delightful new sounds and blends of tone colors to audiences all over the world, and he incorporated the sounds of many countries into his own music.

As a result, he is considered a pioneer in what is known today as “world music.”

As a composer, Yusef Lateef compiled a catalogue of works not only for the quartets and quintets he led, but for symphony and chamber orchestras, stage bands, small ensembles, vocalists, choruses, and various solo instrumental compositions.





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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October 3, 2019

Detroit Jazz Birthdays for October, Part One

Pepper Adams and Kenny Garrett 


Pepper Adams / Photo:


 Pepper Adams, (Photo: Pinteres)


 Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III (October 8, 1930 – September 10, 1986)


“Pepper ” Adams was a Baritone Saxophonist and composer who was born in Highland Park, Mi. and was one of the leaders of the fervent 1950’s Detroit Jazz scene before expanding his influence on a national and international level.


He began playing piano at a very early age and soon went on to play tenor sax and clarinet. It wasn’t until he used his employee discount while working at Detroit’s Grinnell’s music store that he bought his first baritone sax, for which he is best known.


He was soon playing with Detroit’s legendary Lucky Thompson and his band and began meeting other notables from that era, who would become future musical collaborators such as Donald Byrd.  During that period he also became Music Director of Detroit’s famed Blue Bird Inn where he played with Thad Jones and big names.


During the course of his career he also played with such notables as  Kenny Burrell, Kenny Clarke, Curtis Fuller, Chet Baker and Quincy Jones.  He played with John Coltrane in New York and on the album “Dakar”, and with Lee Morgan on “The Cooker” as well.


In the 1960’s Pepper Adams continued to work with the top musicians of the idiom including Charles Mingus, Marcus Belgrave, Thelonius Monk, Lionel Hampton. He also worked for Motown records during the label’s formative years.




Kenny Garrett / courtesy All About


 Kenny Garrett was born in Detroit on October 9, 1960 and was a 1978 graduate of Mackenzie High School. His father was a carpenter who played tenor saxophone as a hobby.


Over the course of his career that has spanned more than 30 years, Kenny Garrett is one of the most important alto saxophonists in contemporary Jazz.  Having played early on with the Duke Ellington Orchestra (led by Mercer Ellington) followed by time spent with musicians and influential style makers as Freddie Hubbard, Woody Shaw, Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers and Miles Davis, Garrett has continued to bring his truly distinctive “voice” to each musical situation. He is also a gifted composer and writes and arranges most of the music on his recordings


During his career, Garrett has performed and recorded with many other Jazz greats such as a life changing five-year period with Miles Davis in addition to time spent with legendary artists who help shape the direction of modern Jazz including, Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones and many others.


Kenny talks about playing with Miles Davis…


“ I was in Miles’ band for about five years. I think that tag will always be there. That is five years of my life. That’s the only musical situation that I was there longer than a year. It was a good five years. I have gotten used to that. Some people became aware of me through Miles and then they would come to my concerts. I think that is part of my history and I am proud of that.


” I am still trying to carve out my own name and my own music. I just look at it as a part of history and it is going to be there.


Every time they mention Kenny Garrett, there will probably be some association with Miles Davis, but at the same time, when they mention Herbie Hancock, they always mention Miles Davis, or Wayne Shorter. You get used to it after a while. ( ”




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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