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Jazz Notes With Judy Adams
June 22, 2018





This is part one of our profile of great new summer albums that may be of interest to adventurous Jazz Notes readers such as yourself.



Our two featured albums are both from guitarists Nels Cline and Steve Tibbetts, who couldn’t be more different from each other. However, what they have in common is their dedication to staying true to their original “voice”. They both utilize a creative approach to their music as they discover new sounds that define their unique styles.  Where Nels Cline is frenetic and full of energy, Steve Tibbetts is meditative, dreamy and ethereal but both artists are masterful when it comes to their improvisational abilities.






Artist/Group / Title / Label


The Nels Cline 4/ Currents, Constellations/ Blue Note



Nels Cline is known for his work as lead guitarist with the band Wilco since 2004. He is also getting lots of attention for his genre-bending collaborations with Jazz guitar virtuoso Julian Lage as heard on their 2014 album as a duo, Room, on Detroit’s Mack Avenue Records. Here they explore new musical territory, drawing on everything from Jazz and Blues to Bluegass, and Country.



“When Julian and I started playing together it kicked my ass hard,” Cline told JazzTimes around the time of Room’s release. “At the same time, it inspired me and refreshed my soul.”



On Currents and Constellations they’ve since added a rhythm section consisting of of bassist Scott Colley and drummer Tom Rainey to the guitar duo we first heard on Room. The new expanded band really rocks!









Steve Tibbetts / Life Of / ECM


Guitarist and pianist, Steve Tibbetts, has been a signature artist with ECM records since 1981. “Life Of” is his ninth album on the label. This new release is a collection of musical portraits, mostly of family and friends with titles such as “Life of El” and “Life of Emily.



Although raised in Midwest America,  Tibbetts has travelled extensively to Southeast Asia, including Bali and Nepal. This is very evident in his music from the use of certain modes and scales to instrumentation and the essence of spirituality. These characteristics have been the foundation of his music, and have defined his sound throughout his career.



The album features him collaborating with Marc Anderson on percussion and handpan, and Michelle Kinney on cello and drones. The music they create is uncluttered, meditative, other worldly and beautiful.



Next week’s Jazz Notes features profiles of two more new releases from Robert Glasper and Charles Lloyd.



Other new albums of note include:
Bill Frisell / Music Is / Okeh
Marcus Miller / Laid Black / Blue Note
Terrance Blanchard and the E Collective / Live / Blue Note
Stanley Clark/ The Message / Mack Avenue
Gogo Penquin/ A Humdrum Star / Blue Note




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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June 14, 2018



The 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival’s Resident Ensemble featuring Bassist Esperanza Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington; shown here at the Festival’s press conference in April 2018.



A new performance feature has been added to the Detroit Jazz Festival. It’s the debut of  Resident Ensemble. Much like the yearly Artist-in-Residence feature, the Resident Ensemble will perform many times both before and during the Festival.


A different core “Ensemble” will be chosen each year and will interact with the Detroit music community and feature significant artists in a group setting.   The Detroit Jazz Festival explained that “the Resident Ensemble epitomizes the value of group interaction and shared creative vision that is at the heart of the Jazz art form”.



This inaugural year for the new ensemble brings us the acclaimed duo of bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. One of their many performance settings includes two nights at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café with two shows each night on Tuesday, June 19 and Wednesday, June 20. For tickets and information call 313-882-5299. This is a chance to witness their creative artistry and improvisational talents up close in the intimate setting of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.





The ACS trio at the Village Vanguard with the late great pianist from Detroit, Geri Allen along with Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding.



Their upcoming performances at the Dirty Dog are a tribute to the award-winning Detroit pianist, composer, Guggenheim felllow and educator, Geri Allen, who died of cancer at the age of 60 on June 27, 2017. During her last few years she was the musical mentor of Esperanza Spalding and Terry Lyne Carrington as the three of them played under her direction in their ACS trio.



As we mentioned in our Jazz Notes tribute to Allen, the word spread fast of her passing last year 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.


She played with such Jazz greats as Charlie Haden, Wayne Shorter, Ornette Coleman, Cassandra Wilson, Carl Craig and countless others, including her husband, trumpeter Wallace Roney.



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”.   The two remaining artists, Spalding and Carrington carrying on in her absence, especially in her home town of Detroit as this year’s Resident Ensemble.




geriAllen CD


Detroit’s own Geri Allen (6/12/57-6/27/17). Her 2013 album “Grand River Crossing” that pays tribute to Detroit’s musical legacy.


Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington both made statements about playing in Geri Allen’s absence and the significance of playing a Dirty Dog tribute to her in her home town of Detroit. The Detroit News reported her statement about Ms. Allen during the Detroit Jazz Festival press conference in April 2018:  “It’s like bringing the seeds back to the soil of the plant they came from,” said Spalding. “This woman gave us so much. All that she gave us, we’re trying to give a little bit of that back in this space.”
“I think there’s a massive homegoing in a sense,” Carrington said. “The way we’re going to do it with the orchestra, and it’s what she would have wanted. I can see her smiling down. We’re trying to make this as grand as we can … contributing to her legacy.”



Terri Lyne Carrington  is a jazz drummer, composer, singer, record producer and entrepreneur. She has played with Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Sample, Al Jarreau, Yellowjackets, and many others. She toured with each of Hancock’s musical configurations (from electric to acoustic) between 1997 and 2007.
In 2007 she was appointed professor at her alma mater, Berklee College of Music, where she received an honorary doctorate in 2003. She has won three Grammy Awards.


Esperanza Emily Spalding is an American jazz bassist and singer, raised in Portland, Oregon, and was a musical prodigy, playing violin in the Chamber Music Society of Oregon at five years old. She was later both self-taught and -trained on a number of instruments, including guitar and bass. Her proficiency earned her scholarships to Portland State University and the Berklee College of Music. In 2017 she was appointed Professor of the Practice of Music at Harvard University.[4]



She has won four Grammy Awards, including the Grammy Award for Best New Artist at the 53rd Grammy Awards,[5] making her the first jazz artist to win the award.







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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June 6, 2018






King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band in Chicago in 1923: Louis Armstrong is kneeling, from left to right behind him are Honore Dutrey, Baby Dodds, King Oliver, Lil Hardin, Bill Johnson and Johnny Dodds.

Frank Driggs Collection/Getty Images



Jazz and the blues are two of the most influential music genres the world has ever known. They were born out of the African-American cultural experience. With modern technology and the media, Jazz and the Blues were fortunate enough to “go viral” with the advent of radio and records nearly a century ago.



They influenced the creation of most modern musical forms including R&B, Rock, Country, Funk, Hip Hop, contemporary Classical and more. All of these cross-cultural genres, except for Classical, were born in America. Many of their defining elements, however, came from blending various cultural traditions that originated elsewhere. This is very common, as almost all music is “fusion” when you think about it.



With its unique syncopated, lilting rhythms, instrumentation and blues based sonorities, Jazz quickly established itself as a major musical art form in Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. Countries with a fervent Jazz scene today include France, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, and of course the U.S. .



As we’ve mentioned in the past, innovative European Classical composers such as Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Stravinsky, Debussy, Satie, were all fans of Jazz, and the Blues. Many of them deliberately sought Jazz out while visiting and performing in America in the early part of the 20th century when Classical music was exploring new territory and Jazz was an exciting new artform getting a lot of attention.  You can hear it’s influence in their music – especially the rhythms and use of the Blues scales which were built upon the ancient pentatonic scales primarily from Africa.



The famous World’s Fairs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries adopted specific cultural themes, featured cultural exchanges from various countries around the world. This exposed the “creative class” to these new and emerging musical and artistic art forms before radio and records came along, spreading music across the world.



For the first time in human history musicians were able to hear authentic performances of world music from a multitude of cultures as they displayed their ancient traditions on centuries old traditional instruments. All of this had a tremendous effect on Jazz and other emerging genres.



Just think had it not been for the invention of mass communication and the invention of radio and records we’d be stuck in the 19th century – music and all. Today there are more than three thousand Jazz clubs worldwide in more than 100 countries.



America should feel proud to recognize and embrace Jazz as a major component of its cultural identity and its unique gift to the world with its ever growing direct and indirect influence on most modern musical forms.






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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May 29, 2018





Award-winning trombone master, Steve Turre, returns to the Dirty Dog on Friday and Saturday,  June 1 and 2, with two sets each night. As he’s played some of top Jazz clubs on the international Jazz circuit for decades, he says he really loves the knowledgeable and appreciative Detroit Jazz audience he finds at the Dirty Dog which has become one of his favorite places to perform.






The trombone is one of the original Jazz instruments which goes back to the days when Jazz’s early instrumentation was derived and influenced by the marching bands in and around New Orleans and other nearby Jazz communities.



Steve is also a master of another instrument, conch shells, or sometimes called shell trumpets. These ancient wind instruments originated in prehistoric times, pre-dating the trombone which originated in western Europe in the 1500’s.



STurreNPR org



Music historians have said that some of the first musical instruments ever invented were most likely made of shells. Shell trumpets have been around since the Magdalenian period (Upper Paleolithic), around 17,000+ years ago!



ancientConch Shell trumpet



Conch shell trumpets have been played in many Pacific Island countries, as well as South America and Southern Asia. They have been used in such diverse places as Malta, india and Tibet. They produce a warm, full, and far-carrying tone. Although they were most common in coastal areas around the world, they were found in many inland areas as well.


Aztec_conch_shell_trumpeter 16thcent.


Aztec shell-trumpet player from 16th century


Mr. Turre always brings his shells to his performances at the Dirty Dog and elsewhere. He’s a master conch shell player and uses many different ones, each with different tonal qualities in varying registers, ranging from low to high. They come in all shapes and sizes and no two are alike. Audiences are always fascinated when he plays them, especially in a Jazz context.





Steve Turre’s most recent album: Colors for the Masters featuring Ron Carter and Kenny Barron



The multi-talented Mr. Turre is also a composer, arranger, and educator at the college and conservatory level. His career spans five decades with involvement in many genres including Jazz, Rock, and Latin Jazz both in live performs, recording projects, television and films.



He has released more than 20 albums as a leader and has appeared on many others as a side-man. Many people discovered him from his long-time work with the Saturday Night Live band which goes back to 1984.






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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May 19, 2018







There are lots of great albums being released this spring and summer that have ties to Detroit, that we’ll be telling you about in the coming weeks. Last week we featured the new CD by Dave McMurray “Music is Life” this week we celebrate the long-awaited release from drummer, arranger, educator and composer extraordinaire, Gayelynn McKinney.



The title of Gayelynn’s new album “The New Beginning” is quite appropriate on many levels. She takes music composed by her esteemed father, educator, pianist, composer, Harold McKinney, and reinterprets it in her own voice. Classically trained Jazz pianist, Harold McKinney played many of his compositions with some of the top musicians in Jazz including John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Sarah Vaughn and others. Gayelynn is breathing new life into the music and reintroducing it to today’s Jazz audience.




The late Harold McKinney / photo by the late Hugh Grannum



One of Detroit’s most admired drummers, Ms. McKinney celebrates her family’s musical legacy with the new album. Besides her musically gifted father, her late mother, Gwendolyn Shepherd McKinney, was an accomplished singer. She is also related to Grammy winning record producer/pianist, Carlos McKinney, Jazz bassist Ray McKinney, trombonist Kiane Zawadi, and many others.



Growing up in a musical family was a plus for Gayelynn who started started taking lessons at age 8 and went on to receive a music degree from Oakland University. Soon after, McKinney co-founded the Grammy nominated, highly revered Jazz group Straight Ahead in the early 80’s.



Over the years she has toured and performed with such major artists as Chaka Khan, Steve Turre, Roy Hargrove, Ralph Armstrong, and the late Larry Coryell.



The long-awaited album has been in the making for nearly five years. Gayelynn received a highly coveted Kresge Foundation grant in 2014 that used specifically for this project. She also did a Kickstarter and IndieGoGo campaigns as well. She did this all while teaching Jazz full time to Detroit high school students, playing and touring with numerous bands including Aretha Franklin and the newly reunited band Straight Ahead, for which she is a co-founder. She is definitely one of the hardest working artists in Detroit today.



A subsidiary of Detroit’s award-winning Mack Avenue Records, Detroit Music Factory promotes the best music from Detroit to a world-wide audience. People who travel in the international music circles talk about what a great reputation Detroit has on a global level. Other Detroit artists on the label include Ralphe Armstrong and R.J. Spangler, Gary Schunk, Rodney Whitaker, De’Sean Jones and many others..



Gayelynn McKinney’s band recently played at the Dirty Dog to “standing ovation” audiences each night. The new album features many of these same artists including trumpeter John Douglas, saxophonist Marcus Elliot, bassist Ibrahim Jones, as well as Wendell Harrison, Rayse Biggs, the late Marcus Belgrave and many others.




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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May 14, 2018






Detroit based, world renowned saxophonist, Dave McMurray makes his Blue Note Records debut with his seventh album “Music is Life” which will be released May 18th.



Blue Note’s president and fellow Detroiter, Don Was and Dave McMurray, have worked together since the debut of Was’ self-titled 1981 debut with Was (Not Was). McMurray not only played on all of the band’s albums he has become Was’ saxophonist of choice for many of his various other projects over the years.



Always a favorite at the Dirty Dog where he’s been a regular for many years, Dave has played with a diverse A-list of artists ranging from The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan to Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins, the late Geri Allen and countless others. He brings these experiences “to the table” on the new album which also explores many genres from Jazz, Funk, Rock, Soul and more,  clearly reflecting  his multi-faceted career.



I’ve been a fan of his playing and music for many years going back to the mid-1970’s while first hearing him play with Griot Galaxy at the famed Cobb’s Corner, on Cass and Willis. I was struck by his distinctive powerful sound that  continues to define his unique style.






Recently I had a chance to talk with Dave about his new album which is, in my opinion, pure musical perfection. The excellent musicianship from all the players is evident throughout the release. Performing with his current band and some longtime collaborators also made for a powerful and tight unit.



With Dave as the album’s producer, The production values were very high…and that coupled with the opportunity to work with the esteemed Jazz label Blue Note, gave the album a very polished, and professional sound.



The new album contains mostly Dave’s original compositions as well as covers of the White Stripes “Seven Nation Army”, Parliament-Funkadelic’s “Atomic Dog”, a song made famous by legendary French singer Johnny Halladay (who Dave worked and toured with for many years) entitled Que Je T’aime.  One of the originals that stands out is “Paris Rain” which is a beautiful string-enhanced ballad that pays tribute to one of his favorite cities.



McMurray not only plays soprano and tenor saxophones but also keyboards, percussion, bass clarinet, electronic programming, his bandmates include Ibrahim Jones on Bass, Ron Otis and Jeff Canady on drums, and special guest Maurice (“Pirahnahead”) Herd/Soulchestra on String Arrangements.



The album is a mirror of Detroit’s musical legacy as one of the great music capitols of the world. His songs “Bop City D”, and “Detroit Theme/Detroit 3″ pays homage to the Detroit sound. “Every time I hear an instrumentalist from Detroit play, it feels like they are singing. I don’t care if it’s Yusef Lateef, James Carter or Kenny Garrett. All of those saxophonists incorporated incredible technique too. But they had this singing quality in their playing. I think people hear that and connect with that aspect of it,” McMurray says






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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May 4, 2018

Lundy twitterCom


The multi-talented Carmen Lundy / Photo by



Internationally acclaimed vocalist/composer Carmen Lundy is touring off her latest album and will grace the stage at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café on Friday May 11 and Saturday, May 12. She will be featuring material from her extensive four decades-long career and her latest album “Code Noir”, where she uses her deep evocative voice in this collection of her original songs 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. This is her 15th release to date.




CarmenLundyCredit Antonio Porcar


Photo by Antonio Porcar



The “Code Noir”  features an impressive, multi-generational 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, who is also the sister of world-renowned Jazz bassist, Curtis Lundy, started playing piano and singing as a young child while growing up in Florida. She is a multi-talented vocalist, composer, arranger and lyricist also plays keyboards, guitar, and much more. A gifted artist she also designs many of her album covers much like Joni Mitchell.  Although she’s often been compared to Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln, Lundy is a true individualist.







Over the years, she has received critical acclaimed from the New York Times, the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Time, the Washington Post, Downbeat and many more. She also received a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Miami.



Her compelling live performances are highly expressive partially because she has written and arranged all of the music which makes for a very personal approach. She’s a very special artist you won’t want to miss. She will be doing two sets each night next weekend. For more information and reservations, 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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April 27, 2018




In this week’s Jazz Notes we focus on some of the basic compositional elements in Jazz. This gives us a rough “road map” as to what to listen for in the music. Although there are no two Jazz pieces that are completely alike, Jazz, like most genres does have some common elements that help characterize it.



Generally, we can define these key elements as use of the blues and pentatonic scales, syncopation, swing (or “a swaying beat” also heard in funk and other rhythmic styles) and creative freedom including the use of improvisation.



Music itself is an art form that combines or alternates sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch which is basic to melody and harmony, rhythm which defines tempo, meter, articulation, and dynamics, which affect sonic qualities such as, volume, timbre and texture. The word music, comes from the Greek word mousike, meaning “art of the Muses”.



Jazz ranges from strictly organized compositions, through free form/improvisational music to written forms such as scores and charts.  Compositional techniques are the methods used to create most styles of music. These range from using written musical notation, to the use of improvisation, musical montage, and arrangements for various ensemble configurations.



Improvisation is a key element of Jazz. It is the act of composing extemporaneously during the performance and assembling the musical elements.



One method to compose music is starting with a base series of chords. These chords could be selected arbitrarily or with specific purpose to reflect the tone of the emotion being conveyed. Once the series of chords is selected, additional lines are added to embellish – these and usually include a lead melody line.



Another method involves free playing. For example, a pianist might simply sit and start playing chords, melodies, or random notes that come to mind in order to find some inspiration, then build on the discovered lines to add depth.



Creating structure to a piece means composers may decide to divide their music into sections. One common form in Jazz involves an exposition, development, and recapitulation. The end speaks to the beginning, concluding things, while the development allows for personal interpretation and improvisation.



Instrumentation is the task of adapting a composition for musical instruments and ensembles. This is known as arranging or orchestrating. A composition may have multiple arrangements based on such factors as its intended audience, musical genre or various stylistic treatments.



This breakdown of compositional elements is a useful tool to use while listening to many different genres of music, not just Jazz.






The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra is a perfect example of group improvisation and musical creation on the orchestral level no less! They utilize many of the compositional techniques outlined above. The musicians in this recording are some of the most talented and respected “free jazz” artists in the idiom.

The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra was an American jazz group founded by Carla Bley and Michael Mantler in 1965 to further orchestral avant-garde jazz. Their 1968 double-album The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra featured soloists Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Roswell Rudd, Pharoah Sanders, Larry Coryell, and Gato Barbieri.

Happy listening!

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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April 20, 2018


Electro/Acoustic Jazz pianist, Chick Corea




Although the festival doesn’t occur until Labor Day weekend work has already begun preparing for this annual event. One of the most exciting things about this pre-Festival phase is the announcement of each year’s Artist-in-Residence. This position is bestowed upon one of the top musicians in the idiom. Recent resident artists have included bassist Ron Carter, guitarist Pat Metheny, and saxophonist Wayne Shorter.



This year it is the iconic pianist and composer, Chick Corea, who is considered one of the major pianists and style-makers to emerge from the latter part of the 20th century.



The role the resident artists play can include various activities such as leading master classes with new and emerging musicians, performing live at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, and also performing on each of festival’s four days. Each one of the Festival performances showcases the resident artist in different ensembles and focuses on different aspects of their music. The best part of all this is the fact that the Detroit Jazz Festival is free allowing thousands of people each year to have access to these deeply satisfying musical experiences.



Chick Corea came into prominence in the mid-1960’s as a member of Miles Davis’s group during an important period in Jazz when the genre began changing its basic style and instrumention to reflect major changes happening in music and culture in general. The style known as “fusion” mirrored the new sounds in electric rock, funk, soul, world music and other genres. Jazz artists, including Mr. Corea with his “fusion” band Return to Forever, began experimenting with electric instruments such as pianos, synthesizers, guitars, violins, basses, and more.



In the coming weeks, our Jazz Notes blog will be highlighting different aspects of Corea’s amazing career and the enormous influence his music has had on contemporary Jazz.  This week we focus on his recent live solo appearance at the Dirty Dog on April 11, 2018 which helped kick-off this year’s Jazz Festival season.



Mr. Corea is a National Endowment of the Arts “Jazz Master” who is also the fourth-most nominated artist in Grammy Award history. He is fluent in many types of music, including bebop, straight ahead, avant-garde and fusion Jazz, Latin and Classical music as well. He brought all of this with him to the Dirty Dog last week for his solo performance that included music from George Gershwin, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Joaquin Rodrigo and Stevie Wonder.



DSC0778 ChickJA 3


Judy talking to Chick Corea after his performance at the Dirty Dog. Photo by Debbie Kent



His playing was flawless with spectacular displays emotional expression, clarity and speed:a true virtuosic master. He created a relaxed atmosphere with his warm, personable style which included telling stories as he introduced each piece of music he chose to play that night. He also stuck around after the show, mingling with the Dirty Dog audience.  It was a magnificent evening




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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April 6, 2018




As we mentioned in last week’s Jazz Notes, drummers and their bands are taking the Dirty Dog stage from March 28 to April 28. This includes Jeff Canady leading his own group and also accompanying Kimmie Horn April 4-8. Gayelynn McKinney presents her “McKinfolk” project April 18-21 and Sean Dobbins brings in his trio April 25-28.



With our focus on drummers this month, I thought it would be a good idea to write about drums and percussion in general this week and the important role they have played in Jazz.



Rhythm is inherent in music containing two or more notes because music is “sound in motion”.  It is not stationary. It’s always moving. Drums and percussion are rhythmic instruments that provide the pulse in the music. They have been an important element in Jazz and the use of syncopated “off beat” rhythms helped Jazz to “swing” and  distinguishing it from other genres early on.



Rhythmic patterns, both simple and elaborate are essential defining element in Jazz.  Cornetist Charles “Buddy” Bolden (1877-1931) was one of the early progenitors of Jazz and a major figure in the development of Ragtime and other early Jazz forms. He is said to be one of the first musicians to introduce “off-beat” syncopated rhythms in Jazz around 1900 which deviated from the standard on-the-beat march patterns. He also introduced the Latin habanera rhythm which was also a departure from the straight march-type figures.






Over the years, Jazz has incorporated lots of rhythmic influences from both ancient and modern cultures all over the world. This is not only evident in the drum patterns but the use of drums and percussion instruments from these cultures as well. Quite often these patterns are derived from centuries-old dance forms.



They follow Jazz’s evolution through its use of drums and percussion in corresponding rhythmic styles in everything from Ragtime and Dixieland of the early 20th century up through the Swing, Bebop, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Bossa Nova, Free and experimental Jazz, Fusion/Funk,  and all of the other styles Jazz has developed in the last 100+ years. Each style had its own rhythmic, and therefore, drumming and percussion style and corresponding instrumentation.


Pontiac’s own Elvin Jones (1927-2004) is considered one of the most original and influential Jazz drummers. He played with some of the most significant artists in modern Jazz including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell and many others. Photo:



Other factors also define these styles such as compositional structure, but rhythms seem to top the list with their prominence and immediate and physical effect on the listener- especially in Jazz.



Some believe say it’s the visceral effect of rhythm we feel first especially when its prominent and played on percussive instruments.Rhythms in other genres, such as some Classical and American folk music, support the melodic or harmonic elements but are less prominent and not be heard “up front” as they can be in Jazz.



In the beginning Jazz drumming reflected the early places the music got it start such as New Orleans and other American cities, as well as influences from Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, elsewhere.



Drums and percussion have been essential in Jazz instrumentation since the very beginning and continue to play an important role in the music as Jazz continues to absorb new stylistic trends such as Hip Hop, electronic and World Music to name a few of the current influences.






Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist.





Some believe say it’s the visceral effect of rhythm we feel first especially when its prominent and played on percussive instruments.



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