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Archive for
Jazz Notes With Judy Adams
July 21, 2017

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




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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.



T.K.Blue will perform as a special guest for the Detroit Jazz Festival Jam Session on Friday Sept 2nd at the Detroit Marriot Renaissance Ballroom.







Roscoe Mitchell / Bells for the South Side / ECM


Roscoe Mitchell is out with a new double-CD 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.







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.



*This 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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July 15, 2017







National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master award Recipient: Wayne Shorter


Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter is this year’s Artist-In-Residence at the Detroit Jazz Festival. He’s known for playing with some of the most important style makers of modern Jazz from Art Blakey and John Coltrane to Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and the band Weather Report. Looking back over his stellar career we can definitely add Mr. Shorter to this list of influential instrumentalists and style makers.



The saxophone is considered one of the most important melodic instruments in Jazz. Playing a melodic instrument such as the saxophone gave him an opportunity to use his special gift as a supreme “melody maker”. He is equally known for his virtuosic playing and improvisational abilities as he is for his work as a prolific composer whose compositions have become some of the most played standards in modern Jazz.



These include the piece Footprints, which is one of the most covered compositions in contemporary Jazz. It first appeared in 1966 on his 10th release “Adam’s Apple” with him on tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock, piano, Reginald Workman on bass and Joe Chambers, drums. It was also recorded the same year with Miles Davis second great quintet with Shorter again on tenor, Herbie Hancock, piano, Ron Carter, bass and Tony Williams on drums.



Both versions could not be any more different. It was more like “Miles Apart”.
These were experimental times in Jazz as it began absorbing the changes happening in music with the fusing of Jazz with Rock, Funk, World, Folk and other emerging popular idioms. Instrumentation changed with the additions of louder, amplified instruments such as guitars, and bass, often treated with special effects.






These changes began and can be heard in the music of both Miles Davis and Weather Report from late 1960s into the early 1970s. Both groups were highly influential and hosted Wayne Shorter who became an important voice during this period. Both groups were experimenting with fusion early on.



This important historical transition for Jazz is strikingly evident as you listen to these two versions of Footprints. Both are equally beautiful but the “Adam’s Apple” version feels like it is from a different tradition. Each player is a distinct individual while the Miles’ version shows how the artists are beginning to fuse into one voice, one sound – a more collective approach. We hear them exploring global styles, modes, cultures. A sign of the approaching times.



Ron Carter’s bass line is tinged with Latin affectations, Tony Williams’ drums are creating hypnotic splashes and textures, quoting hints from ancient cultures. Wayne Shorter and Miles are harmonizing the melodic line while experimenting with different modal designs. Listen and compare these two versions of Footprints, both recorded in 1966. A clear picture of how much Jazz was progressing during the mid-1960’s due to such composers and improvisers as Wayne Shorter.



Wayne Shorter’s earlier version of Footprints from his 1966 release “Adam’s Apple”






Miles Davis’s version played by his second great quintet which includes Miles Davis, trumpet, Wayne Shorter again on tenor, Herbie Hancock, piano, Ron Carter, bass and Tony Williams on drums.





Speaking of improvisation. Mr. Shorter is a master at improvisation which goes hand in hand with being an master composer as improvisation means composing “in real time” as we explored in a recent “Jazz Notes”.





This was very evident when I had a chance to hear Mr. Shorter with his quartet at Orchestra Hall a couple of years ago with Danilo Perez, piano, John Patitucci, bass and Brian Blade on drums. It was one of the most intuitive bands I have ever heard as they played group improvisations for most of the evening. The music was complex and unique but accessible at the same time. This band will be opening the Detroit Jazz Festival this year.


Other compositions of Wayne Shorter that have become standards within the repertoire include:


Infant Eyes
Ponte De Areia
Witch Hunt
Oriental Folk Song
Mysterious Traveler
and many more.



Mr. Shorter draws from a wide palette of colors, textures and cultural influences with no two songs sounding alike. Writing effective, engaging and memorable melodies is a true art form. Wayne Shorter is a rare talent and a true master.


He performs each day of the four-day festival which is free.


For complete information go to






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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July 7, 2017






It was less than two weeks ago that we heard the shocking news that we lost internationally acclaimed Detroit born, Jazz pianist, Geri Allen, at age 60 due to complications from cancer. The word spread fast with musicians here in Detroit and around the world expressing not only their sadness,  but their deep appreciation for the musical gifts she shared with us during brilliant career.



Guitarist Vernon Reid said on Twitter, that “Geri Allen advanced the position of women in Jazz and creative music for REAL”. He called her an “inspiration for original voices”.



Iconic Detroit bassist, Ralphe Armstrong, told the Detroit Free Press that “Geri Allen was the female Herbie Hancock on the piano”. He said he knew Allen from the age of 14 years old when they were students at Cass Technical High School – a school with a legacy as a hotbed for Jazz talent. “She played with the greatest Jazz artists and she also used the same rhythm section Miles Davis used –  fellow Cass Tech grad and bassist Ron Carter and Tony Williams” – two of the most influential and celebrated musicians in Jazz.  “For that rhythm section to play with you”, says Armstrong, “you’ve got to be one of the elites”.










Ms. Allen had a very prolific career which includes an impressive discography of having appeared on over 150 recordings and performing with a diverse list of legendary artists from Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Buster Williams, Don Cherry, Bobby Hutcherson and Wayne Shorter to Kenny Garrett, Ornette Coleman, Vernon Reid, James Carter, Meshell Ndegeocello, Cassandra Wilson, Carl Craig and her husband, trumpeter Wallace Roney.



She was also a loyal contributor to the Detroit music community and played and recorded with some of its most creative, contemporary artists including Rayse Biggs, Robin Eubanks, Wendell Harrison, Dave McMurray, Jaribu Shahid, Tani Tabbal, Shahida Nuralah, Sadiq Bey and many others. For a complete list of her recordings and those she’s performed with go to



Besides being a pianist, composer, performer, wife and mother, Ms. Allen was an educator and was an Associate Professor of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation at the School Of Music Theatre & Dance, at the University of Michigan, and as of 2013, had been Associate Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.



Her extensive Classical and Jazz training and degree in Ethnomusicology were evident in her music and playing virtuosity.
She was a true piano master whose style was characterized by an immense understanding of the piano itself. It was commonplace for her to ornament her performances with long, intricate arpeggios that spanned with width of the keyboard. She would also utilize her knowledge of world music by playing repeated dance-like rhythmic figures and scales and modes quoting various cultures around the world – giving her work a reason to listen more closely. She was like great chef who knew the perfect way to season a dish.


During the past few years she primarily performed with her group, the ACS Trio,  which included drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and bassist Esperanza Spalding.  We’re sorry to miss hearing Ms. Allen at the Detroit Jazz Festival again this Labor Day weekend. She and her trio, were invited participate in one of Wayne Shorter’s special artist collaborations. Shorter is the festival’s Artist In Residence for 2017. The quintet was also supposed to include keyboardist Leo Genovese.




The ACS Trio performing at the 2013 Portland Jazz Festival.

Photo: Brent Wojahn, The Oregonian


During our nearly three years of doing the Jazz Notes blog, we mentioned Geri Allen many times, whether it was our piece on the famous grads from Cass Tech, or our blog on Women in Jazz. Here’s an excerpt from last year’s birthday tribute where we shared a quote from her describing her many accomplishments in her own words:



“I am a pianist/composer/educator, Guggenheim Fellow, and new Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. I received the very first Lady of Soul Award for jazz, and was also the first woman, and youngest person to receive the Danish “Jazz Par Prize.” My work is featured in The Lisa Gay Hamilton Peabody Award winning film, Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, and on Andy Bey’s Grammy nominated American Song.



“I received an NAACP Image Award nomination in 2011 and also performed in A Theatrical & Musical Celebration Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., MLK: A Monumental Life, for the statue unveiling in Washington, D.C.  I served as musical director for the Mary Lou Williams Collective.


I released a series of solo piano driven recordings between 2008 and 2013: Flying Toward The Sound, A Child Is Born, and Grand River Crossings. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Jacques Lacombe, commissioned Stones and Streams, an original work to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Stones and Streams was performed as a part of the NJSO’s Gala Celebration in September 2013. Since that time my compositions have been featured on two Grammy Winning CD’s by Terri Lyne Carrington and Dianne Reeves, and I continue to teach, perform and compose.”





This 2013 release was a tribute to Motown and included appearances by Marcus Belgrave and David McMurray.



I first met Ms. Allen in the early 80’s backstage at the DIA where she was performing. One of her mentors, drummer Roy Brooks, introduced us, telling me to watch out for this up and coming pianist who was a true genius of a musician.  Since then I had the opportunity to see her perform many times – hearing her musical genius grow on each occasion.





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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June 27, 2017





Photo by R.J. Spangler



Michael Zaporski is a Detroit pianist, composer, arranger and educator who performs on the beautiful Steinway grand at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe this week (June 28-July 1). He is known for his work with his band “Future Visions” and the “Planet D Nonet” led by R.J. Spangler. “Future Visions” is an outgrowth of the “Visions” band led by the late Detroit saxophonist Sam Sanders, where Zaporski was a member of for many years.



Sam Sanders’s “Visions” band traveled to West Africa where they not only performed but also taught Jazz through the U.S. State Department. Under this specially sponsored program, Sanders and his band, (including pianist Michael Zaporski) played long side some of the top names in Jazz including innovative major recording artists such as drummer Art Blakey, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Jackie McLean and trumpeter Donald Byrd.



Their time in West Africa also enabled them to learn first hand about the various local folk music traditions of the places where they lived, taught and performed. These ancient musical traditions have had an immense influence on Zaporski’s playing and composing to this day.



His playing is very expressive and can be intense one moment and lyrical in the next. He utilizes the full range and capacity of the keyboard as he creatively crafts interesting solos with unique improvisational structure.
He also explores dynamics, which create dramatic compositional effects.



Mr. Zaporski is currently teaching music in the Oak Park School District where he shares his knowledge, experience and stories with the future generations of musicians and music fans.







He is on the acclaimed Planet D Nonet, “Salute to Strayhorn” album, which came out in 2016 on the Detroit Music Factory, a subsidiary of Mack Avenue records. The recording is a tribute to legendary pianist, and composer, Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967), best known for his successful collaboration with Duke Ellington for more than 30 years where he wrote some of their most memorable compositions, including “Take the A Train”, Chelsea Bridge, and many others. Zaporski was not only the pianist on the album, but he was also the arranger.







Michael Zaporski is at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe this week from Wednesday, June 28 through Saturday, July 1. His band consists of Joshua James and Nathan Zaporski on saxophones, Kurt Krahnke on bass and Jesse Kramer on drums. For reservations, call 313-882-5299. For more information, 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



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June 23, 2017



Miles Mosley “Uprising” album



Jazz has always been about the “now”.  It has absorbed current cultural trends since the beginning. As we discussed in a recent blog about improvisation, the whole idea of most Jazz is about making music “in the now”.



We’re seeing a new generation of innovative artists who are creating a fresh new sounds that subtly draw on the music’s defining ingredients while injecting elements from the new world of expanded cultural awareness.



They are consciously and unconsciously absorbing the music of their environment – combining basic Jazz components with rhythms, modes, phrasing and technology from Electronic and World music, Hip Hop, Rock, R&B, Funk, Gospel, and other styles.



Here is a partial, yet definitive list of contemporary artists who are taking Jazz in new directions. Some of these folks have been mentioned in previous articles but deserve to be mentioned again in this new context.





Cameron Graves, “Planetary Prince” album



Detroit’s Mack Avenue Records pianist and visionary Cameron Graves is one of the leaders of the Los Angeles Jazz scene and is a founding member of the West Coast Get Down Collective, which includes such artists as saxophonist Kamasi Washington, bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner and others. Mr. Graves will be performing this Labor Day weekend at the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival.




Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, bassist / Photo:


These artists are making original music that explores cutting edge arrangements with contemporary rhythmic patterns, and melodic structure. Miles Mosley is considered the leader of the collective and will be performing at the Detroit Jazz Festival this year as well. He’s an acclaimed bassist, vocalist, and composer, and his new album, “Up Rising” is very powerful. The New York Times wrote “His tunes place urgency and nostalgia in contact, as if they were two equally valid strands of idealism”.





Another artist who has been taking Jazz in new directions is veteran, New Orleans born trumpeter, Nicholas Payton. His new album utilizes new technology and special effects. He mixes Jazz with insightful voice loops from Max Roach, Miles Davis, Art Blakey and other Jazz icons.  These are tastefully woven into the music – blending tradition with futuristic tendencies.





De’Sean Jones “Knomadik Reverence” album


Detroit Music Factory’s saxophonist, De’Sean Jones is not only respected here in Detroit and other cities as an excellent Jazz artist and composer but is also known as a member of the Detroit based electronic band, Underground Resistance, which also mixes Jazz with Hip Hop, Funk and Techno. Their huge fan base is world-wide. De’Sean’s music is very “current” and original with elements of great musicianship and depth.




Ian Finkelstein with drummer Alex White


Detroit pianist and Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe regular, Ian Finkelstein, plays masterful Jazz piano with a number of Detroit area groups, including his own. But stretches out when he’s with his own band where he shows us what a master player and composer he is when he’s in his pure electro-funk mode.



Keep your mind and ears open for these new sounds in Jazz and be sure to check out the recordings listed above.





thndercat NicholasPayton cameronGraves DeSeanJonesKnomadik MilesMosleyUprising thundercat




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June 16, 2017



Concert Pianist, David Syme          Photo:




Jazz Artists Honor Cass Tech with Benefit Concert


On Monday, June 19th, a special benefit concert will take place at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe.  The Cass Tech Alumni Association presents internationally renowned concert pianist David Syme with special guests, bassist Ralphe Armstrong, drummer Skeeto Valdez, and pianist Stefan Kukuruga, all of whom are esteemed alumni of Detroit’s Cass Technical High School.



This special event is coordinated by Cass Tech alum and Jazz aficionado, Carolyn Wanzo. The $150 donation for admission to the concert also includes a several course dinner with all proceeds going to Cass Tech music projects. Donations are tax deductible.



cass tech



Virtuoso pianist David Syme, who lives in Ireland, has had an amazing career. He has performed in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and in other major venues in more than 17 countries. He also attended Juilliard and Indiana University. He has recorded more than 20 albums with such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic among others.



In 2016, Syme began making twice-yearly visits to Cass Tech. He visits the music students and works with them while encouraging their music aspirations and goals. He also helps raise money for their acclaimed music program there which points to the event this year at the Dirty Dog and also a new scholarship he has recently launched
in memory of his father, the Rabbi M. Robert Syme and David Syme Music Legacy Endowment at Wayne State University.



Photo: FreePages/




Cass Tech’s Music Department is legendary and has had an amazing reputation for decades with an unprecedented   list of major Jazz artists who went to school there. The list includes such luminaries as Alice Coltrane, Diana Ross, Della Reese, Gerald Wilson, Regina Carter, Geri Allen, Ron Carter, Dorothy Ashby, Ali Jackson, Kenny Burrell, Donald Byrd, Paul Chambers, Ester Gordy Edwards, Wardell Gray, J.C. Heard, Billy Mitchell, Al McKibbon and many others.



Historical/Background: Courtesy of Wikipedia


Cass Technical High School, commonly referred to as Cass Tech, is a four-year university preparatory high school in Midtown Detroit. The school is named in honor of Lewis Cass, an American military officer and politician who served as governor of the Michigan Territory from 1813 until 1831. The school is a part of Detroit Public Schools. Until 1977, Cass was Detroit’s only magnet school and the only non-neighborhood enrollment school in Detroit.



The school was founded on the third floor of the old Cass Union School in 1907. Its historic landmark building on Second Avenue in downtown Detroit was built in 1917.[6] To the south of it an addition designed by Albert Kahn was built in 1985. The new, modern facilities of the school were built in 2004 in an adjacent lot to the north of the original building on Grand River Avenue.



The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is located at 97 Kercheval in Grosse Pointe Farms. Doors open at 6pm. For tickets and information contact Carolyn Wanzo at 313-418-2791 or the Dirty Dog at 313-882-5299.



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June 9, 2017




“I feel that Jazz improvisation is the ultimate.   You have to create on the spot, the essence of this music.”


Sonny Rollins       Photo: Wikipedia



One of the defining elements of Jazz is the use of improvisation. It’s what sets Jazz apart from Classical music in particular, a genre Jazz is often compared to. Classical music, for the most part, is written out and notated.



In fact, early Classical music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods encouraged players to use improvisation, which was later discouraged and phased out in preference for evaluating performances by how well they followed the written score.



Jazz’s roots come from folk forms such as the Blues, and traditional African music, and many others. Most folk forms are usually improvisational by nature, – encouraging self-expression.



Improvisation in Jazz is what makes it so exciting to listen to because each performance is created extemporaneously – fresh with new material as no two performances are alike.



Jazz improvisation employs the use of ornamentation, creative interaction between the musicians, and individual interpretation.
As musicians are composing “in real time” they are reinterpreting various compositional elements. This is a major component of a musician’s solo in Jazz.



For example, the melody might be ornamented by using different chords and rhythms. The instrumentation might be altered as different instruments are used to play melodies and harmonies in new ways. The tempo could be slower or faster. These are just some of the devices musicians use.



Each time a piece is played also reflects the current mood of the performer, especially in improvisation. They need to know how to express these creative ideas effectively, so they make sense within the structure of the piece, which contains an emotional component or message that is shared between the artists and the audience. This is all done in a matter of seconds as improvisation is music created “in the moment”.



Listen for each artist’s take on improvisation whenever you’re listening to Jazz – whether it’s live or on record. It will take you deeper into the music.



scottGWINNELL detroitmusicfact


Pianist, Scott Gwinnell at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe.


Photo: Detroit Music Factory



Listen for these factors when enjoying pianist Scott Gwinnell at the Dirty Dog next Wednesday and Thursday, June 14-15. Scott is a talented, experienced improvisor who knows a lot about composition and musical structure. His playing is very melodic with lush chords and beautiful arpeggios used to embellish the music’s framework.





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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May 31, 2017





Dave McMurray is a long time Detroit and international fixture on the worldwide music scene. Best known as a tenor saxophonist, McMurray is actually a multi-instrumentalist who is proficient on a number of instruments including  flute, keyboards, alto and soprano saxophones and many more.



He’s talented in many genres such as Jazz, Rock, World, Avant-garde, Funk, and more. This is reflective in the diverse list of artists he’s played with from the French pop star, Johnny Hallyday, to Bob Dylan, Gladys Knight, Was Not Was, Bonnie Raitt, Iggy Pop, KEM, and the Rolling Stones. His Jazz work has also been diverse working with avant-garde Griot Galaxy, and contemporary Jazz artists Geri Allen and  A. Spencer Barefield, as well as Nancy Wilson, Bob James and others.



He just loves to play and stays very active as a musician. In fact, he’s getting ready to release his sixth album “Music is Life”, which is being mastered in L.A. and will be out this Fall.



I first met Dave in the mid-1970’s, at Cobb’s Corner, in the Cass Corridor, when he was with the acclaimed Detroit, avant-garde Jazz band, Griot Galaxy, led by the late visionary composer/saxophonist/poet, Faruq Z. Bey.  The group has long-disbanded, but “Griot” fans will have a chance to hear Dave play with the band and some of its former members, during their long-awaited reunion at this year’s Concert of Colors in mid-July. Go to for information.





David McMurray with trumpeter Rayse Biggs at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

Photo: John Osler



It’s all this constant performing, touring, and recording that makes him able to draw on his well-honed musical abilities and play with ease. He can then concentrate on the art of playing and extemporaneously expressing his creative musical ideas.



Dave said the Dirty Dog is one of his favorite places to play, because “it’s all about the music”. McMurray will be at the Dirty Dog this week from Wednesday, May 31 to Saturday, July 3. His group will consist of vocalist Jerrel Young, Rayse Biggs, trumpet, Al McKenzie, piano, Ibrahim Jones, bass, and Jeff Canady drums. Dave said the Dirty Dog is one of his favorite places to play because “it’s all about the music”.



For more information on his performances this week and to make a reservation 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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May 25, 2017





This extraordinary young pianist and composer has a lot going for him.  And, you’ll get a chance to witness his virtuosity in action on the Dirty Dog stage with his band this Friday and Saturday night, May 26-27.



I first heard him while enjoying his role in the multi-generational collective of musicians on the Supreme Sonacy Vol. 1 album from 2015, performing along side everyone from Jeff “Tain” Watts, and Marc Cary to Chris Potter and others.



His recent major label debut on Mack Avenue Records has definitely put him in a worldwide spotlight. His new album, Reach, was produced by iconic bassist/producer Christian McBride, and veteran Jazz producer, Al Pryor.








In it we find all original compositions by Mr. Sands – each one a different musical story supported by a strong group of skillful artists who instinctively know how to interpret Sand’s music while maintaining their own individuality.



These include: Marcus Strickland, tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Gilad Hekselman, guitar, Christian McBride and Yasushi Nakamura on bass, Christian Rivera, percussion and Marcus Baylor on drums.



However, this not his first album. This prolific young artist’s discography contains 25 albums to date – five of which are his own.






The impressive opening track on Reach is a Chick Corea inspired piece entitled “Armando’s Song”. It’s spiced up by Afro-Cuban elements and baroque-style counterpoint which he plays at breakneck speed showing off his amazing technical dexterity. Drummer, Marcus Baylor really shines on this one, as he does throughout the album.



“Freefall” utilizes electronic effects, contemporary chord progressions, and features brilliant solo work from saxophone master, Marcus Strickland.



In “Use Me” we hear a mix of Blues, Funk and a touch of Hip Hop, with Gilad Hekselman “burning up the guitar” throughout.



“Actually, my biggest influence in making this album was Michael Jackson’s Bad record,” he says. “There are so many different kinds of tunes on that, so many changes. So that’s what I was setting out to do.”



Mission accomplished!



Christian Sands will be playing two sets each night this Friday and Saturday, May 26-27.


For reservations and information call the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe at 313-882-5299 or visit





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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May 17, 2017




Ralphe Armstrong at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

Photo: Hour Detroit magazine



World-renowned bassist and Detroit Music Factory recording artist, Ralphe Armstrong, is a regular performer at the Dirty Dog. You’ll not only hear him perform there with his own band, but with other groups including the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars and many others.



This week Ralph is celebrating this birthday, which is May 17,  and it so happens he’s performing at the Dirty Dog this week from Wednesday 5/17/17 to Saturday, 5/20/17. He will be joined by Alex Colista on saxophone, Gary Schunk on piano and Gayelynn McKinney on drums.



Ralph Armstrong is one of Detroit’s best musical ambassadors and loves promoting this city’s impressive cultural history while performing at home and around the world.



This legendary Detroit born bassist, who like so many others, went to Cass Technical High School and Interlochen School of Fine Arts in northern Michigan. He’s played with the likes of Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, John Mclaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Larry Coryell and Jean-Luc Ponty to name a few.





The Mahavishnu Orchestra circa 1974, Ralphe is second from left.



For a more extensive look at his background as a musician please check out the link below for an exclusive interview from 2010 with Jon Liebman from “For Bass Players Only”:


Interview – Ralphe Armstrong


Most Ralphe Armstrong fans know that he’s played with incredible artists over the years, but not everyone knows that his father, Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong is national treasure and a celebrated musician who, among other things, was part of the popular group “Martin, Bogan and Armstrong”.



Howard Armstrong was playing the mandolin by the age of ten, and by his mid-teens he was a professional musician. In the early 1930s he performed as "Louie Bluie" after meeting guitarist Ted Bogan. Their career as string band musicians was disrupted by World War I1, and it was not until the 1970s that he rejoined his old friends to begin a second career as a musician and entertainer. Here, he performs at the 1997 Chicago Blues Festival. Chicago, Illinois, Photograph by Jack Vartoogian

Howard Armstrong  at the 1997 Chicago Blues Festival. Photograph by Jack Vartoogian



These excerpts from his New York Times obituary tell us more about this extraordinary American artist’s fascinating life:


Howard Armstrong, (1909-2003), the last guardian of a vanishing African-American tradition of string-band music…played 22 instruments although he was best known as a fiddle and mandolin player.


He performed with a virtuoso’s panache, pleasing audiences with fast fingers and a droll stage presence. His repertory included blues, standards, country tunes, rags, work songs, jigs, reels, polkas, spirituals, Hawaiian songs and international songs in the seven languages he spoke. His gifts as a musician and raconteur were captured in a 1985 documentary by Terry Zwigoff called ”Louie Bluie,” a nickname that Mr. Armstrong got from a drunken fan in the 1930’s….


His music went out of style after the war, and from 1944 to 1971 he worked on the Chrysler assembly line in Detroit.


But in the 1970’s that music was rediscovered, his music career revived and he reunited with Martin and Bogan. They played a weekly club date at the Earl of Old Town bar in Chicago, made albums, including ”Barnyard Dance” (Rounder) in 1972 and ”That Old Gang of Mine” (Flying Fish) in 1978, and appeared on Steve Goodman’s 1975 album ”Jessie’s Jig and Other Favorites” (Red Pajamas).


They also began touring, playing at coffeehouses, folk festivals and on a State Department tour of Central and South America.




In 1990 Mr. Armstrong received a National Heritage Fellowship award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Mr. Armstrong released a solo album, ”Louie Bluie” (Blue Suit), in 1995, and it won a W. C. Handy award from the Blues Foundation.


Ralphe Armstrong might be bringing a special acoustic bass, made in 1843, to play this week at the Dirty Dog that he hasn’t played in more than 7 years. He told me that it was recently getting repaired after it was damaged at an airport while he was on tour.  He’ll most likely tell us more about this special instrument that he said sounded very beautiful…almost like a violin.


For performance information and reservations call the Dirty Dog at 313-882-05299 or visit




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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The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
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Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.
Tad Weed Trio
STARTS: Wed, August 02 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 05 2017
Detroit Jazziest All-Stars
STARTS: Wed, August 09 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 12 2017
Spencer Barefield
STARTS: Wed, August 16 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 19 2017
Chris Codish
STARTS: Wed, August 23 2017
ENDS: Thu, August 24 2017
Diego Figueiredo
STARTS: Fri, August 25 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 26 2017
Closed for The Detroit Jazz Festival
STARTS: Tue, August 29 2017
ENDS: Sat, September 02 2017