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Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog is one of the premiere destinations in the United States for world class Jazz and cuisine. It combines the charm of an English-style pub with intimacy and meticulous attention to detail and hospitality.
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
Archive for
Jazz Notes With Judy Adams
January 16, 2020





Ralph Armstrong performing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe/ photo by John Osler



Award winning Jazz Bassist, Ralph Armstrong is at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe from January 29-Saturday Feb. 1


As a well respected Jazz bassist, Ralph Armstrong, loves being from Detroit and enjoys promoting its cultural treasures while performing in various places around the world.  Ralph’s personal history goes back to the turn of the 20th century with his father, (Howard Armstrong) taking a lead role in promoting the blues and other early American folk traditions.


LouieBluie BluesHistorian and raycontour

Ralph’s father, Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong



Ralph’s musical talents have allowed him to play with some of the top names in Jazz and cutting edge contemporary music including Miles Davis, Carlos Santana, Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Larry Coryell and Jean-Luc Ponty to name a few. That’s Ralph , second on the left, with Mahavishnu in the 1970’s.



RalphArmstrong+JohnMcLaughlin's Mahavishu orchestra


And, like so many other successful musicians from Detroit, he went to Cass Technical High School and Interlochen School of Fine Arts in northern Michigan. Something else that sets Ralph apart, was that he was born into a musical family as his father Howard Armstrong was a famous musician and artist known as “Louie Bluie” (1909-2003) who was part of a an award-winning trio known as Martin, /Bogan and Armstrong.


It started when he joined a band led by Blind Roland Martin and his brother Carl Martin. He was known as a well-respected musicologist and blues historian, a country blues musician who played many different instruments, including fiddle, mandolin, and guitar.


Ralphe Armstrong as a child, with his father Howard


Ralph Armstrong as a child, with his father Howard, “Louie Bluie”, in the early 1960s



They toured the United States playing work songs and spirituals through popular Tin Pan Alley tunes. As Martin, Bogan and Armstrong, they also performed at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. The music these artists created and played is at the core of blues-based contemporary music which is the root of most of the music created in the past century. That is very significant when you stop and think about it.



LouieBluie LouieBluie

Louie Bluie Album Cover



After serving in World War II, Howard Armstrong moved to Detroit and worked in the Auto Industry until 1971. With a revival of old-time African-American music, Martin, Bogan and Armstrong reunited, and the band recorded, performed at clubs and festivals and went on a tour of South America sponsored by the U.S.State Department. They played together until Martin’s death in 1979.



Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong (March 4, 1909 – July 30, 2003) was a recipient of a prestigious  1990 National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which is the United States government’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.



He continued to perform with a younger generation of musicians and released his first solo album, Louie Bluie, in collaboration with his son Ralphe Armstrong and Ray Kamalay in 1995. The album earned him a W.C. Handy Blues award nomination for Acoustic Album.


Armstrong was also an expert painter, and designed the juke joint set for the film The Color Purple.
He died in Boston, Massachusetts, aged 94.




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.





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January 8, 2020



IanFink @DDJC Osler


Pianist Ian Finkelstein at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe / Photo by John Osler



Back about 14 years ago I produced a live music series at the Jazz Café at the Music Hall. It was called the Jazz Café Discovery Series. Each week we’d feature local bands and artists from area high schools and universities. Their performances would be broadcast each Sunday night on WVMV 98.7 radio.



Since then, many of these young artists have gone on to become some of today’s best Jazz musicians in the Detroit area with many of them attracting national and international attention. These include Rafael Statin, DeSean Jones, Marcus Ellliot, Alex White, Jon Dixon and Ian Finkelstein to name a few.



As we mentioned in a previous blog article, Ian Finkelstein is known today as a pianist, producer, composer and educator.



IanFinkstein B+W Osler


Ian Finkelstein at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe / Photo by John Osler



During our Music Hall series, Ian really stood out as he played with technical precision and a good understanding of improvisational structure – making it hard to believe he and some of the others were still in high school.



Many of them have begun touring around the world and all have played the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. Ian and his band will be there again January 15-18. For more information go to our website at I’m looking forward to hearing his intuitive interpretations of Jazz standards as well as his own compositions.



Last time, he created a trance-like listening experience filled with personal intensity while flawlessly executing the music on the keyboard.


Ian graduated from the University of Michigan with two degrees: a BFA in Jazz Piano Performance and another in Performing Arts Technology. He’s also been mentored by many top musicians such as the late Marcus Belgrave, and Geri Allen and has shared the stage with many legendary Jazz artists including Benny Golson, Robert Hurst, and others.



Chick Corea, who was in town for the 2015 Jazz Festival was immediately impressed with his playing when he accidentally walked in on Ian (who was rehearsing) on his way to the Green Room at the Dirty Dog.



IanFinkstein B+W Osler


Detroit Jazz pianist, producer, composer, and educator, Ian Finkelstein.
Photo by John Osler



IanFink @WDET.orgStripeShirt

Ian Finkelstein  / Photo by WDET-FM



In 2014 he performed in Marcus Belgrave’s band at in New York with Marcus Elliot, Marion Hayden, Joan Belgrave, and Gayelynn McKinney. New York Times Jazz writer Ben Ratliff wrote, “the band also included two young Detroit musicians, the tenor saxophonist Marcus Elliott and the pianist Ian Finkelstein, convincing and confident, evolved in touch and tone, the kind of musicians New York would be lucky to have….”



A fan of many kinds of music, Finkelstein says some of his favorite pianists are Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Jaki Byard and Ramsey Lewis. He said he’s been enjoying a lot of house and techno music these days, and also been creating a lot of his own. Other favorites include Theo Parrish, Norm Talley, Rick Wilhite, Roy Ayers and many others. As mentioned earlier, he’s also been checking out the late pianist Ken Cox’s Contemporary Jazz Quintet, from the 1970s and beyond and also the masterful drummer, Max Roach.





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 30, 2019

40 Years of Jazz at Wayne State University



ValadeJazzCenter at WSU

Coming soon to Detroit’s Wayne State University!





Photo: Chris Collins, Valade Chair in Jazz Professor, Wayne State Department of Music




Wayne State’s faculty member, world renowned, Vincent Chandler has a reputation for being a uniquely expressive trombone soloist. He’s also a versatile sideman, innovative composer and arranger, a crowd pleasing scat singer, an experienced bandleader of various group sizes and a natural teacher of beginner to advanced students.



This past year not only marks the 40th anniversary of the Detroit Jazz Festival but also Wayne State University’s Jazz studies program which began in 1979.  As a music major at Wayne in 1967,  I was enrolled in their Classical studies program and remember thinking how great it would be if Wayne also had a Jazz program for those of us who were also interested in Jazz.



The late sixties was a very important period for Jazz and for modern music in general. Artists were discovering new styles from all over the world and different times periods. The music was blossoming all over with influences  from the 16th century to Jimi Hendrix.



Forty years later Detroit’s local Jazz scene music and Wayne State are now intertwined. Wayne’s applied music faculty are among the finest musicians in this region. They are presently part of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theater, and the Jazz musicians can be heard regularly at our world-famous Jazz clubs such as the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, Cliff Bells, Baker’s Keyboard lounge and many others.





Major donor for Detroit Jazz Festival and upcoming Wayne State Jazz Center, Gretchen Valade, who is also owner and music director of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, in Grosse Pointe Farms.



Universities began offering courses in Jazz in the early 1930’s. By the 1950’s, thirty colleges and universities were offering Jazz courses nationally and by the early 1970’s, 15 were offering degrees in Jazz. Wayne State’s Jazz Studies program began in 1979 with 102 students majoring in the artform.



Dennis Tini and James Hartway were co-founders of the program. Jazz Pianist Matt Michaels joined them soon after. Jazz history and theory became key aspects of the curriculum along with composition, arranging and other elements. Newly formed ensembles included Jazz big bands, guitar ensembles, and several Jazz combos.



Wayne’s connection to the Detroit Jazz community continues to grow these days partly because professor Chris Collins is not only Chairman of the Jazz department but is also President and Artistic Director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation, bringing together Wayne’s Jazz students and faculty with the international array of world class musicians from the festival.





Chris says he is “very proud to have been able to bring Gretchen Valade into the WSU world and help shape the future Gretchen Valade Jazz Center as we pass the 40th anniversary of the Detroit Jazz Festival and the 40th anniversary of the Wayne State University Jazz Program.”




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.











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December 18, 2019



Sean Dobbins Organ Quintette / Photo by



The Dirty Dog Jazz Café welcomes back Sean Dobbins with nine performances to close out the year. This includes special performances on New Year’s Eve., 12/31/19, with two seatings and a full four course dinner, champagne toast, party favors and complimentary valet. For reservations and information call 313-882-5299 or go to



Sean Dobbins is not only one of the most respected and revered drummers from Detroit’s current Jazz scene, he’s also one of the top Jazz educators in Michigan and is a faculty member at the University of Michigan, Oakland University and Wayne State University. He is also Artistic Director of Jazz Ensembles for the Detroit Symphony and is also the Executive Artistic Director of the South Eastern Music Academy.





Sean Dobbins / Photo by Dept. of Music at Wayne State University


Sean performs with his band “The Modern Jazz Messengers” (named after Art Blakey’s band which had a major influence on Dobbins) from Thursday, December 26 through Saturday, December 28th, and 31st.


The band members include:

Peyton Miller on Vibraphone

Cory Allen on Guitar

Gerard Gibbs on Organ (26th, 28th and 31st)

Jim Alfredson on Organ (27th only)


Dobbins has an international reputation as being a very powerful, dynamic, and passionate performer who ranks alongside other great drummers from Detroit who are also getting accolades world-wide. These include Nate Winn, Alex White, Djallo Djakate, Mahindi Masai, Gayelynn McKinney, Karriem Riggins and others.



Sean Dobbins lists artists such as Art Blakey, Elvin Jones and Jeff “Tain Watts” as having a major influence on his playing. Over the years, Dobbins has been invited to perform with top Jazz artists such as Dr. Lonnie Smith, James “Blood” Ulmer, Cyrus Chestnut and many others.


Sean Dobbins / Photo by War



For more information on Dobbin’s performances at the Dirty Dog, call 313-882-5299 or go to





Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.





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December 13, 2019

Rayce Bills, DirtyDogJazzCom.


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



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



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


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



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


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



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



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



Since then his talents and musical travels have taken him far and wide to such distant places as Senegal and elsewhere around the globe, performing a diverse blend of modern and classic styles with the likes of Kem, Was Not Was, The Dramatics, Kidd Rock, Bob Dylan, Matthew Chicoine and Recloose and many others. Rayse’s live performances reflect these exciting career experiences that add to the depth and breath of his music that he shares with us while he’s on stage.





Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM (NPR), where she was Director of Programming and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.

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December 6, 2019

Ali Jackson


Drummer,  Ali Jackson



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



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



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



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



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



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



Ali Jackson (plaid vest)


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



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



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






Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.  She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.


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December 2, 2019




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



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



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



DaveMcMurrayAtDirtyDog Jazz Cafe...

Dave McMurray at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

Photo: John Osler



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



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



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



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



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



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




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


JamesCarter and Baritone Sax




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




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




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November 21, 2019



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Duke Ellington / Photo from “”




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



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



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



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



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



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

John Coltrane

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



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



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



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



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



miles davis

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



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



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





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November 12, 2019



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


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


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


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


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


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


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




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


These included such Detroit Jazz luminaries as:


Trumpeters Marcus Belgrave and Michael Henderson


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


Pianists Johnny Griffith and Earl Van Dyke


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


Trombonists George Bohanon and Jimmy Wilkins


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


Guitarists Dennis Coffey, Joe Messina, and Ron English


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



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



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




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.











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October 31, 2019

Jazz Notes Profiles Gretchen Valade and Detroit Women In Jazz


Gretchen Valade  / Photo: Crain’s Detroit Business



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




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



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



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





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


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



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



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


Michigan Today, John Lofy


The late pianist/composer Geri Allen /photo by


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

Bassist Esperanza Spalding/ photo



Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.

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The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
      Ralph Armstrong performing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe/ photo by John Osler  [..]
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JAZZ PROFILE: IAN FINKELSTEIN     Pianist Ian Finkelstein at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe / Pho [..]
Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.