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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.
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Jazz Notes With Judy Adams
February 9, 2018




You know spring is right around the corner when we start talking up this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival which is now in its 39th year. It takes place, as usual, Labor Day weekend from Friday August 31 through Monday September 3, on multiple stages in downtown Detroit, including the Carhartt Amphitheater stage on Hart Plaza.





Photo by John Osler



The Dirty Dog’s Detroit Jazz Festival monthly jam sessions start up again on Monday 2/19 with new and emerging artists vying to play the festival while they audition during these weekly live opportunities.



The Detroit Jazz Festival and the Dirty Dog are excited about teaming up again for these special jam sessions designed to draw out and showcase some of the best new talent around.  These take place on the third Monday of each month from February 19 to June 18.





Saxophonist Chris Collins, who is also Detroit Jazz Festival’s Artistic Director and head of Wayne State’s Jazz Department

Photo by Jeff Dunn




Jam session partcipants are accompanied by the house band named the Detroit Jazz Festival All Stars. The leader is saxophonist Chris Collins who is not only the head of Wayne State’s Jazz department but also the Artistic Director of the Festival. The other band members are all accomplished Detroit notables who are all educators as well. See list below.



These special sessions are designed to promote Jazz to younger musicians since exposure and playing opportunities are the keys to inspiring the next generation Jazz artists. They provide opportunities to play in performance situations with some of our most esteemed and well established artists and educators.  The festival competition is open to musicians of all ages. To participate just show up at one of our upcoming jam sessions . See schedule below.



These jam sessions are the place to be for those interested in playing the Festival as Detroit Jazz Festival Artistic Director Chris Collins will be checking out the artists and Jazz Fest staff will be there to accept submissions “on the spot” from artists and ensembles to be considered for the 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival.



Jam Session House Bands: (Chris Collins in all house bands) will welcome musicians of all ages to join them on stage. They give participants the chance to play with seasoned players and educators most of whom are on the music faculties of the top universities in this area including, Wayne State, The University of Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland University and others.




Pianist Ian Finkelstein/ photo by John Osler



Mon. Feb 19 – Dwight Adams, Ian Finkelstein, Jeff Pedraz, Gayelynn McKinney
Mon. March 19 – Dwight Adams, Ian Finkelstein, Ralphe Armstrong, David Taylor



Where: The Dirty Dog Jazz Café, 97 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Farms, Mi., 313-882-5299


Time: 6:30 thru 9:30 (usually with a brief break in the middle)


Reminder: Artistic Director, Chris Collins will be there to check out talent; submissions can also be made at


These jam sessions are free and open to the public; seating is limited



The Dirty Dog is known all over the world as a “serious” Jazz club devoted to presenting high quality talent in a musical environment. The Dirty Dog presents a diverse blend of artists and group that represent the many different styles of Jazz performed by well known legends and new and emerging talent alike.  For a schedule of upcoming shows 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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February 2, 2018



Photo: John Osler


The Vincent Chandler Collective returns to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for a four-night residency, February 7-10 with two shows each night. He played with his band at the Dirty Dog in 2013 and more recently with the Detroit Jazz Festival All-stars, last fall.



As a special treat the VC Collective will perform a tribute to the music of “The Jazz Crusaders” while at the Dirty Dog next week. The “Jazz Crusaders” were a widely popular Jazz/Funk Fusion band formed in the 1960’s by Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper, Joe Sample, and Wayne Henderson. The group lasted well into the 1990’s.




Professor Vincent A. Chandler, is currently on the faculty at Wayne State University as Lecturer of Jazz Studies and Trombone.  Mr. Chandler earned his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Music and a Masters of Music in Improvisation from the University of Michigan.  Working in a university environment allows him to share his knowledge and expertise with the new generation of Jazz artists and to be exposed to new and emerging talent, and fresh musical ideas.



As a native Detroiter,  he was able to draw upon the rich Jazz community here as he became a protégé of such Detroit legends as Wendell Harrison, Donald Walden, Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney, Kenn Cox, Marion Hayden, James Carter, Geri Allen, Regina Carter and many others. These Detroit Jazz icons shaped and defined the world-famous Detroit Jazz sound they helped cultivate from the late 60’s onward.



Chandler is also respected and admired on the world Jazz stage. This is through his impressive work with such Jazz luminaries and style makers such as Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Henderson and Roy Hargrove –  all award-winning, major recording artists.



He is a featured soloist on “Requiem,” from Roy Hargrove’s only Big Band CD called “Emergence,” James Carter’s “At the Crossroads,” and Rodney Whitaker/Carl Allen’s “Work to Do.” In 2014 he released his first CD as a bandleader, called Vincent Chandler “Embraceable,” including Robert Hurst on Bass.



For more information on the Vincent Chandler Collective’s performances at the Dirty Dog, February 7-10, call 313-882-5299 or visit




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










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January 24, 2018


Jason Marsalis / Photo: Chicago Tribune




Jason Marsalis & the 21st Century Trad Band is on tour this month in support of their new release, “Melody Reimagined, Book 1”. Jason and the band are including the Dirty Dog in their tour and are performing this Friday and Saturday, January 26 and 27, with two shows each night.



Composer, pianist, drummer, vibest, and percussionist, Jason Marsalis, is a member of the musically talented Marsalis family from New Orleans and is the younger brother of fellow Jazz musicians Branford (saxophone), Wynton (trumpet), and Delfeayo (trombonist) among other family members.



Marsalis studied percussion at Loyola University and performed with a variety of bands early on including Jazz, Funk, Fusion, and a Brazilian percussion ensemble. He then branched out with Detroit percussionist, Bill Summers and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and created the popular Latin Jazz group, Los Hombres Calientes, and also worked the great pianist, Marcus Roberts.



The multi-talented, Jason Marsalis, will be playing a variety of instruments from the percussion family on the Dirty Dog stage this weekend. These include drums, piano, misc. percussion, and of course, vibes, one of the instruments he is best known for.







Although it was invented around 1920, this electrically powered instrument is related to the balafon and marimbas, which have ancient roots in Central Africa going back nearly a millennium or more.



The balafon has wooden slats or keys that rest on top of gourded resonators. The marimba’s ancestor is a type of balafon that Africans brought to Central America around the 16th century and was used by the Mayans in festivals and religious ceremonies. These instruments were actually early keyboards and influenced the creation of the piano, xylophone and other melodically based percussion instruments.



The vibraphone is considered the first electronic instrument which began introducing “other worldly” sounds and special effects to various genres of music from Jazz and Classical to movie soundtracks. The vibraphone’s sound comes from tuned metal bars or slats that are struck with felt or wool mallets that make its soft, mellow tone quality.



The Dirty Dog Jazz Café has hosted many world-class, award-winning vibraphonists over the past few years including Roy Ayers, Warren Wolf, and Mr. Marsalis.



Some significant Jazz vibes players were from Detroit including the legendary Milt Jackson of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Terry Pollard, and Jack Brokensha, among others.


For more information on Jason Marsalis at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, call 313-882-5299 or visit






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




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January 22, 2018





Guitarist, composer Julian Lage is part of the new generation of Jazz artists breathing new sounds and influences into the art form. He continues to bring us his own brand of Jazz and/or creative music on his new album “Modern Lore”. The title is quite appropriate because Lage’s music is both very modern and traditional. It also has a bit of “lore” as it contains hidden musical stories from yesterday, today and tomorrow.






Wiki Photo


Lage has collaborated with a diverse list of artists including Gary Burton, Bela Fleck, Nels Cline, David Grisman and Yoko Ono. Hailed as a guitar prodigy, Julian was the subject of the academy award nominated film “Jules at Eight”.



The new album features his acclaimed trio with Scott Calley on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums and vibraphone, with special guests that include Tyler Chester on keyboards, and producer Jesse Harris on maracas, Casio and acoustic guitar.






Photo: New York Times



In “Modern Lore” Lage pays tribute to vintage rock sounds of the mid-20th century, when the electric guitar began to define this emerging genre that grew out of folk forms with origins in Africa, Central America and northern Europe.



Hence the music is tainted with elements of the Blues, Country and Western, Rockabilly, and Jazz, with his guitar virtuosity shining through the entire release.








The Jazz influence is heard in his improvised flow of cross generational ideas built upon traditional forms spiced with non-traditional chords and rhythmic figures.



He’s such a complete musician that he makes it all work. Combining excellent playing with emotive expression and well-constructed music ideas that are easily accessible.





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




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January 15, 2018



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



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



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



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



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






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



The Charles Boles Quartet  /  Photo: Detroit Music Factory Records



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



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



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



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



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



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



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





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


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January 8, 2018







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



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



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



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



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






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



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



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



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





Wendell Harrison on the WTVS program “Detroit Performs”



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



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



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



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





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



















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January 2, 2018


Listed Alphabetically by Artist / Album / Label *


Ambrose Akinmusire / A Rift in Decorum / Blue Note




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




Joey DeFrancesco and the People / Project Freedom / Mack Avenue




Tigran Hamasyan / An Ancient Observer / Nonesuch






Charles Lloyd New Quartet / Passin’ Thru / Blue Note





Christian McBride Big Band / Bringin’ It / Mack Avenue




Brad Mehldau and Chris Thile / Self-titled / Nonesuch




Stanton Moore / With You In Mind / Cool Green




Miles Mosley/ Uprising / Verve




Cecile McLorin Salvant / Dreams and Daggers / Mack Avenue




Kareem Riggins / Headnod Suite / Stones Throw




Christian Sands / Reach / Mack Avenue







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



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





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December 23, 2017





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


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





Tony Allen / The Source / Blue Note


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




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


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




TK Blue / Amour / Dot Time


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



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



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



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




Bill Charlap Trio / Uptown Downtown / Impulse


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





Cameron Graves / Planetary Prince / Mack Avenue

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



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






Carmen Lundy / Code Noir / Afrasia Records



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



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





Roscoe Mitchell / Bells for the South Side / ECM



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



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





Various Artists / The Passion of Charlie Parker / Impulse



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





Nicholas Payton / Afro-Caribbean Mixtape / Paytone Records



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



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





Chris Potter / The Dreamer is the Dream / ECM



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



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




Nate Smith / Kinfolk – Postcards from Everywhere / Ropeadope



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



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





Songhoy Blues / Bamako / Fat Possum Records


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



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



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





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



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




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

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

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December 18, 2017


Duke Ellington



John Coltrane



Ralph Towner



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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



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


Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite” overture





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



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



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



John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things”




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


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





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





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December 11, 2017






The Jazz audience is steadily growing these days as listeners of all ages are drawn to the idiom – seeking deeper and more fulfilling musical experiences. These new listeners find it easy to be attracted to Jazz because its familiar sounds such as its classic  instrumentation or syncopated rhythms have been woven into our cultural fabric in various ways for decades.



Jazz is a true American art form that has had a significant influence on modern culture from Classical Music and Dance, to Film, Poetry and many other art forms.





Photo: Daily.bandcamp/org



Over time, this pervasiveness has allowed more people to be exposed directly and indirectly to Jazz.  Exposure is the key.



There are many new opportunities helping people discover Jazz for the first time. Some have found the annual Detroit Jazz Festival to be a perfect way to discover new music. Others have found Jazz at various venues around town that present Jazz on a weekly basis. This includes the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, Cliff Bells, the Paradise Jazz Series at the Detroit Symphony, Motor City Wine, Bert’s, Eddie V’s and others. The intimate nature of these and other Jazz clubs is a perfect environment to study and appreciate the art form.



Jazz Studies is also included in many more schools today from music appreciation classes to Jazz performance ensembles. This is evident on all educational levels.



Unlike most “top 40” or pop music, the Jazz experience is usually quite fulfilling.  This is because most Jazz works contain a sophisticated structure with many elements happening simultaneously.



These can include complex rhythms, chord progressions and creative melodies. Many people have said that music forms such as Jazz and Classical, or even great works of art, give the listener or viewer a more lasting experience allowing them to feel, hear and see new things each time they listen due to the complexity of the piece.



As is the case with great musical art forms, there’s more that goes into Jazz composition, which means there’s that much more for the listener to experience.



Jazz and others forms of developmental music can be compared to a great meal, which is carefully prepared with love. Then there’s some music that can be compared to fast food, such as some pop music, which can be consumed quickly with not much lasting appeal.



There are many levels of the Jazz experience, from the overall esthetic of a piece to the various moods and emotions expressed by the basic compositional elements of melody, harmony and rhythm.





Jazz…’s something else!



Duke Ellington / photo by




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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