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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
September 14, 2017



Miles Davis collaborating with composer and orchestral leader Gil Evans in the late 1950’s for his orchestral Jazz series that included such celebrated classics as “Miles Ahead” and “Sketches of Spain”.  Photo:



Vocals vs. Instrumentals?



Music can be divided into two distinct types: Vocal music and Instrumentals. Many music fans prefer one or the other. Jazz and Classical music have large amounts of both but are primarily instrumental over all.



Popular music is primarily vocal music and that is reflected in commercial Top40 radio, except for the rare instrumental that pops up now and then. How many remember Mason Williams’s 1968 hit “Classical Gas” or Motown’s Junior Walker’s “Cleo’s Mood” from 1962?  Even in Public Radio the singer/songwriter formatted stations feature almost all vocal music.



Was it always this way? Not really. Not since radio formats began dictating the tastes and music preferences of mass audiences in the 1950s and beyond to boost record sales. This started with the advent of rock, R&B and early country/western swing. This replaced music from the Jazz, big band/swing era that dominated radio in many cities from the 1930s and 40’s and included a lot of instrumental and vocal Jazz from live coast to coast performances from clubs around the country.




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Ella Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917-June 15, 1996), one of the most significant vocalists of the 20th century and was known as one as one of the most amazing scat singers of all time. Photo: New York Times



Vocal music goes back to prehistoric times as the voice was most likely the first instrument. Early humans started imitating each other as well as birds and other animals. They made primitive instruments used for amusement, dancing, communication, rituals and other activities. Over the years, traditional forms of music were somewhat balanced between being vocal or instrumental based. Vocal music quite often does have an instrumental accompaniment but some indigenous forms were acapella.



Vocal music’s message is more direct than the average instrumental piece which tends to be emotionally expressive with its tonal structure and harmonies that often subtly mimic human expressions (crying, laughter, etc.) and behavior to communicate the universal language of innate feelings and emotions. Listeners have said they find instrumental music to be more meditative and personal as it allows the mind to wander freely.



Most pop music is vocal based and dominant in our culture, except for Rap and Hip Hop and a few other exceptions. This means the average music listener has had little exposure to instrumental genres except in movie, TV and other soundtracks.



Los Angeles based bassist, composer, Thundercat fuses his brand of Jazz with elements of hip hop and other contemporary styles. Photo:



Jazz and classical listeners are usually comfortable with both types and are particularly comfortable with instrumental music mainly of their exposure to it from these genres.



Jazz instrumentals are well known with Big Band and Swing and orchestral Jazz in general such as the music Miles Davis mae with Gil Evans in the 1950’s and 1960’s.



Some of the most influential Blues and Jazz vocalists of the 20th century were responsible for defining vocal styles for several generations that followed. These include Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat Cole, Johnny Hartman, and many others.



Throughout history there have been many kinds of vocal music including non-verbal forms from most cultures. Many of these forms are centuries old, elaborate, untexted vocal improvisations from ancient cultures across the globe.



In Jazz we have scat singing, which is vocal improvisation with wordless sounds that often imitate instruments from low to high registers.  Hip Hop is a modern form that is fusing its way into Jazz by younger, newer artists who are showing its influence on their music. It is a genre that encourages vocal improvisation, with lyrics and rhythmic patterns.



Most instrumental fans have already been exposed to vocal music in our culture. But vocal fans haven’t always been exposed to Jazz, Blues, Classical and other instrumental genres.



Whatever the group you identify with, it’s time to open up and cross over to the other side. You might discover a whole new world of music to enjoy, especially Jazz, which is what the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is all about. Check out our calendar for upcoming shows featuring both instrumental and vocal music representing various styles within the Jazz repertoire.



There many other outlets for live Jazz in Detroit as well including the Paradise Jazz series produced by Detroit Symphony.





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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September 7, 2017





Shahida Nurullah performs at least twice each year at the Dirty Dog and will be there with her band next Wednesday and Thursday, September 13 and 14 for two sets each night. She has built quite a following at the club. Once people hear what she can do with a song with her comfortable style and velvety smooth voice, they’re hooked. This applies to both new fans and longtime devotees.



This Detroit based chanteuse has brought her vocal gifts to audiences all over the world including Paris, Amsterdam, and New York. Listeners are lured into the music by her intimate, engaging style. Her lovely alto voice brings the lyrics and melody to life as she personalizes each piece as if it were her own.



She chooses songs from a diverse roster of composers and songwriters. You’ll hear everything from Jazz, Blues, Broadway show tunes, Sambas and Bossa Nova, even well known popular songs such as Moon River and Everybody’s Talkin’ which she beautifully reinterprets – creating her own rendition of each song she sings in her own inimitable style. Song writers range from George Gershwin and Antonio Carlos Jobim to Stephen Sondheim Vernon Duke, and The Beatles.




Photo: John Osler



It’s not surprising that she has received praise from audiences all over the globe with raving reviews in such publications as The New York Times, The Detroit Free Press, DownBeat magazine among many others including the foreign press.



Here are some excerpts of an on-air review from a public broadcaster in Sacramento who, along with his radio audience was obviously very impressed with Ms. Nurallah’s work. “She handles standards in a way that remains true to the music as written, yet refreshingly her own. It’s a joy in radio to find a voice the does not sound like someone else. Her phrasing is subtle, just lovely.”




These are the types of comments Ms. Nurallah’s voice conjures up wherever and whenever she sings. She’s one of a kind and a true artist of the “song”. Whether you’re already a fan or are interested in hearing her for the first time…’ll walk away having had a beautiful listening experience.


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





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





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August 31, 2017



Gayelynn McKinney performing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe / Photo by John Osler



With more than 5 years in the making, the McKinFolk band led by Gayelynn McKinney makes its worldwide debut this month both on record with a new release and at the Detroit Jazz Festival all in tribute to Detroit’s musical McKinney family.



One of Detroit’s most admired drummers, Ms. McKinney celebrates her family’s musical legacy with the new album, McKinFolk: The New Beginning – scheduled to be released mid-September on the Detroit Music Factory label, a subsidiary of Mack Avenue Records.



The multi-generational McKinFolk group is also making its debut at the Detroit Jazz Festival Saturday, September 2 from 2-3:15pm on the J.P. Morgan Chase stage. Performers include Dwight Adams, trumpet, Vincent Chandler, trombone, Marcus Elliot, tenor saxophone, Glenn Tucker, piano. Marion Hayden, bass and Gayelynn McKinney on drums.



In a recent article in Jazz Line News, Ms. McKinney talked about what inspired her to take on the McKinfolk project in the first place:


“My father (Harold McKinney) may not have died a wealthy man but, he was rich with people who loved him and his music. He left plenty of music that has not been heard by the masses…. I’m planning to go into the studio with some great musicians. At that time, I will begin the continuation of my father’s legacy, that was left to my family and I….. As I dive into his many compositions, I will be able to add some of my own interpretations to the music. I will also give some of my colleagues a chance to breathe life into some of his unfinished works. This is exciting for me! I will have a chance to hear how some of his music will be interrpreted by others! I believe my father would have liked that.”




Harold McKinney




Gayelynn’s late father, Harold McKinney was highly respected around Metro Detroit as a pianist, composer, producer, musical patriarch and teacher who inspired many musicians to persevere with their musical calling and contribute to the cultural community at large.



He combined a deep knowledge of classical music, with life long passion for Jazz, especially hard Bop. McKinney toured and played with many of the biggest names in Jazz including Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Yusef Lateef and Kenny Burrell. Along with Wendell Harrison, and others, McKinney began the Tribe collective, an artist run label, magazine and a creative outlook on urban self-determination. He was also heavily involved with the Detroit Artist’s Workshop collective founded in 1964.



I first met Mr. McKinney in the mid-1970s as I was a huge fan of the band Tribe and him in particular. During the 70’s and 80’s he regularly visited WDET 101.FM (where I worked from 1973-2005)  when we had many diverse Jazz offerings. We became “music” friends and had many inspiring conversations over the years.



Award-winning drummer, Gayelynn McKinney is musically active member of the legendary McKinney family and is promoting its legacy with her McKinfolk album and band. 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 advantageous for Gayelynn. She started taking lessons at age 8 and went on to receive a music degree from Oakland University. She then began performing professionally both nationally and internationally. In the 1980’s McKinney co-founded the Grammy nominated, ground breaking, Jazz group Straight Ahead, who are currently still active.



Today, Ms. McKinney is one of Detroit’s most accomplished instrumentalists and teachers. She was listed in DownBeat magazine this past August as one of top five favorite drummers of Carl Williams, musically astute bartender at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. She has traveled extensively, and has accompanied major artists from Chaka Khan to Roy Hargrove, Ralph Armstrong, Larry Coryell and Steve Turre.



Besides performing, teaching music is another one of her passions. She is currently in-residence at Martin Luther King High School.



She was also honored with a highly prestigious Kresge Foundation fellowship a new years backs which enabled her to complete her McKinfolk Project, She says she wants to “re-do his stuff for a new generation”.






Friends, family and dignitaries pose for a photo at the street renaming ceremony for the late Harold McKinney at Harmonie Park on September 4, 2009.  Photo: Metro Times



Besides performing, teaching music is another one of her passions. She is currently in-residence at Martin Luther King High School.



She was also honored with a highly prestigious Kresge Foundation fellowship a few years backs which enabled her to complete her McKinfolk Project, which pays tribute to her father’s legacy by releasing some of his unheard compositions. She says she wants to “re-do his stuff for a new generation”.




Gayelynn and her dad, the late Harold McKinney (1928-2001), a highly revered composer, educator, and pianist who played with such Jazz greats as Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Gene Krupa, Sarah Vaughn and many others. He was also a musical patriarch who inspired countless Detroit area musicians with his positive vision and approach.






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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August 22, 2017

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The legendary blues artist,  John Lee Hooker, who lived in Detroit for nearly 30 years, is being celebrated this year as it marks the centennial of his birth. He was born near Clarksdale in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi on August 22, 1917 and died in Los Altos, California on June 21 2001. The son of a sharecropper he began playing guitar at a young age and soon fashioned his own distinct guitar style which incorporated elements of Delta Blues as well as Boogie Woogie piano among other influences to create a “sound like no other”.



This highly influential guitarist, composer and singer spent many important musical years living in Detroit after moving here to work at the Ford Motor Co. in 1943. He soon became a regular in the blues clubs on Hastings street in the heart of the Black Bottom neighborhood on the east side. He eventually found the electric guitar to be more compatible with the fuller sound he was looking for and began recording on a regular basis. Detroit is where he made a name for himself and where his career really took off as he became known as the “King of the Boogie”.



His 1948 single “Boogie Chillun”, which mentions Hastings Street in the lyrics, sold a million copies and made him a regular recording star who produced countless recordings and performances that led to him being recognized the world over.




“Boogie Chillun” original 1948 version


He had a huge influence on the rock revolution and British Invasion of the 1960’s and worked side by side with such blues influenced groups as Eric Clapton and Cream, The Rolling Stones, Canned Heat, Los Lobos, Van Morrison, Santana, Jeff Beck and so many others who idolized him and his signature sound, characterized by a repetitive hard driving syncopated motif which is also the basis for “funk” rhythms used by James Brown early in his career and others. This was also extremely popular with rock audiences around the world. He soon moved to California where he lived for the remainder of his life.





John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana  /  Photo:





John Lee Hooker performing “Boogie Chillun” with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton in 1989


Hooker is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame, Memphis Music Hall of Fame, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and won four Grammy’s.







I was lucky enough to witness his extraordinary talents first hand and got to see him perform live a number of times including bringing him in to play at WDET’s annual music festival in 1991 at Meadow Brook. I also had the opportunity in 2000 to do a lengthy radio interview with him about Jimi Hendrix who was heavily influenced by his singing and guitar stylings.





John Lee Hooker and I backstage at the WDET 101.9FM music festival in 1991.


Here’s more amazing biographical information about John Lee Hooker from his official website:


When the young bohemian artists of the 1960s “discovered” Hooker, among other notable blues originators, he found his career taking on a new direction. With the folk movement in high gear, Hooker returned to his solo, acoustic roots, and was in strong demand to perform at colleges and folk festivals around the country. Across the Atlantic, emerging British bands were idolizing Hooker’s work. Artists like the Rolling Stones, the Animals and the Yardbirds introduced Hooker’s sound to new and eager audiences, whose admiration and influence helped build Hooker up to superstar status.



By 1970, Hooker had relocated to California and was busy collaborating on several projects with rock acts. One such collaboration was with Canned Heat, which resulted in 1971’s hit record Hooker ’n’ Heat. The double LP became John Lee Hooker’s first charting album.
Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, John Lee toured the U.S. and Europe steadily.



His appearance in the legendary Blues Brothers movie resulted in a heightened profile once again. Then, at the age of 72, John Lee Hooker released the biggest album of his career, The Healer. The GRAMMY® Award-winning 1989 LP paired contemporary artists (Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Los Lobos and George Thorogood, among others) with Hooker on some of his most famous tracks. The Healer was released to critical acclaim and sold over one million copies. The Hook rounded out the decade as a guest performer with the Rolling Stones, during the national broadcast of their 1989 Steel Wheels tour.



With his recent successes, John Lee entered the 1990s with a sense of renewed inspiration. Not only was the decade a time of celebration and recognition for the legendary artist, but it was also a highly productive era.



He released five studio albums over the next few years, including Mr. Lucky, which once again teamed up Hooker with an array of artists; Boom Boom, which aimed to introduce new fans to his classic material; the GRAMMY® Award-winning Chill Out; and a collaboration with Van Morrison, Don’t Look Back, which also garnered two awards at the 1997 GRAMMYs®.



Throughout the decade, Hooker’s great body of work and contributions to modern music were being recognized not only by his peers, but also by a younger generation. He became a familiar face in popular culture, with appearances on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman.



In 2000, shortly before his death, John Lee Hooker was recognized with a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award, and just one week before his passing, ever true to form, the bluesman spent his final Saturday night playing a now-legendary show to a packed house at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, CA.



The Hook continues to live on: His music can regularly be heard in TV shows, commercials and films, and many of his tracks have also found a second life sampled in new songs – by the likes of R&B star Brandi, hip-hop legend Chuck D and French electronic musician St Germain, among many others. Most recently, his iconic recording, the 1962 Vee-Jay Records single “Boom Boom,” was inducted into the 2016
GRAMMY® Hall of Fame.





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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August 11, 2017





Detroit has definitely produced many important and influential drummers in the world of Jazz. These include everyone from Elvin Jones, known for his 6 year stint with John Coltrane’s Quartet in the 1960s to J.C. Heard who worked during the big band, be bop and post-bop era with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon and other big name style-makers. The powerful Roy Brooks was very prolific during the 1960’s-1980’s working with Max Roach, Yusef Lateef, Charles Mingus and several years with Horace Silver’s band.



More recently Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver has made a name for himself backing up such highly acclaimed creative artists as Matthew Shipp, Wadada Leo Smith, Chris Taborn and others.



Another Detroit born drummer who’s been getting a lot of attention while playing with a multitude of genres is Karriem Riggins who was just named “Featured Artist” of the Detroit Jazz Festival’s newly created “Untitled Series” which promises to deliver an inclusive, eclectic style of Jazz to attract a broader, more diverse audience.


This well-rounded musician is also a hip hop producer, DJ and much more. His latest album is “Headnod Suite” which came out earlier this year on Stones Throw records and was reviewed and recommended on our Jazz Notes blog.






Karriem Riggins’s 2017 release “Headnod Suite”




Born on August 25, 1975, Riggins began learning a lot about music at a young age from his father Emmanuel Riggins who was also a musician.



He soon began producing hip hop in middle school and at Southfield High where he also studied music. At 17 he joined bebop vocalist Betty Carter’s band and two years later moved to New York to play with the Ray Brown Trio in 1988.



These are some impressive folks for a young artist, such as Karriem, to perform with. It showed early on just how much talent he had to offer and it also showed how adaptable he was with playing so many different kinds of music and artiists. This paved the way for him to continue playing with a diverse list of artists to this day.



This includes Paul McCartney, Donald Byrd, Hank Jones, Roy Hargrove, Theo Croker, Diana Krall, Common, Robert Glasper, Esperanza Spalding, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, Elvis Costello, Detroit poet/performance artist Jessica Care Moore and many others.






As the “Untitled Series” Featured Artist, Riggins will participate in two “Music with a Purpose” performances over Labor Day Weekend – one with Common and a special guest and the other with Esperanza Spalding in a unique duo performance.



2017 “Untitled Series” Featured Artist: Karriem Riggins Live featuring Common and Special Guest – Music with a Purpose will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3, on the JPMorgan Chase Main Stage. This musical journey will take fans on a ride through music from Common’s repertoire with heavy elements of freestyle.






Photo: Stones


2017 Untitled Featured Artist: Karriem Riggins Live with Special Guest Esperanza Spalding – Music with a Purpose is the final act in “The Untitled Series” and takes place at 5:45 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 4, on the Absopure Water Front Stage. This collaboration will be fused with loops and soulful interludes and is an improvisational experiment that only can be seen live at the Detroit Jazz Festival.



The rest of “The Untitled Series” and their performances are as follows:
• Miles Mosley + The West Coast Get Down; 8:30 p.m. on Friday and 8 p.m. on Saturday on the JPMorgan Chase Main Stage
• Theo Croker Escape Velocity; 3:45 p.m. on Saturday on the Absopure Water Front Stage
• Donny McCaslin Group; 4 p.m. on Saturday on the JPMorgan Chase Main Stage
• Cameron Graves; 3:15 p.m. on Sunday on the Carhartt Amphitheater Stage
• Kamasi Washington; 8 p.m. on Sunday on the JPMorgan Chase Main Stage
• 2017 Artist-in-Residence Quintet: Wayne Shorter, Leo Genovese, Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington; 9:15 p.m. on Sunday on the Carhartt Amphitheater Stage



“Being from Detroit, I’ve always been an admirer of the Jazz Festival and its support of the music in the city,” said Riggins. “I am extremely honored to be a part of such an incredible Series that I feel adds diversity to what is already the most amazing jazz festival in the world.”



For more information on the Festival, including the performance schedule 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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August 3, 2017



Detroit Jazz Festival (Photo John Osler)



There are some very exciting special events and competitions this week and next that are showcasing young Jazz talent in advance of the Detroit Jazz Festival, September 1-4 in downtown Detroit.


Making Jazz accessible to listeners and musicians,  of all ages, and especially young people, has been a longstanding tradition of the Festival since the beginning.


The 38th Detroit Jazz Festival, in association with the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe and Cliff Bells are presenting these competitions designed to showcase some of the best talent from high schools and universities from metro-Detroit and  around the country.




These provide a chance for serious young musicians to collaborate with their peers from other schools, plus learn from noted professionals involved in the music both locally and internationally.


These include some of our most esteemed and established artists and educators. They include Sean Dobbins, Marion Hayden, John Douglas, Ralphe Armstrong, Gayelynn McKinney, Tad Weed, Chris Collins and others offering excellent playing opportunities in small combos and big band settings to help these emerging artists develop professional musical, improvisational and performance skills.





Drummer/Educator Sean Dobbins



The Detroit Jazz Festival has had a lengthy history of working with metro-Detroit’s educational community in particular, and have featured some of our area’s top High School and College bands in the line up each years.


This year we have the Michigan State University Jazz Orchestra, Detroit Public Schools Community District Showcase All-City Jazz Combo, and the University of Michigan Combo Showcase to name a few. Check the Festival’s performance schedule at


Here’s the schedule for the exciting pre-Festival competitions and performances this week and next:


AUG. 3 – 4


Three impressive drummers from around the U.S. will go head-to-head during the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival J.C. Heard National Jazz Drums Competition, which recognizes drummers whose artistry reflects the commitment to tradition and search for originality that are tenants of J.C. Heard’s virtuosity.


Of the three finalists, a winner will be named on Friday, receiving a cash prize and a performance slot at this year’s Labor Day weekend Festival. Drum Competition finalists are Nolan Byrd, Zach Adleman, and John Sturino.


Thursday Aug. 3 will be the Tad Weed Trio (Tad Weed, Kurt Krahnke and Sean Dobbins) and Aug. 4 is the Jeff Pedraz Duo.


These take place:

6:30 & 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3, at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe; no cover
9 p.m. – 1 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, at Cliff Bell’s; cover: $10


August 9-12: Detroit Jazz Festival All-stars at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe


Two sets each night 6:30pm and 9:30pm with Chris Collins, Michael Deese, Rob Pipho, Cliff Monear, Marion Hayden and Gayelynn McKinney.





Drummer/Educator  Gayelynn McKinney and Bassist/Educator  Marion Hayden (Photo:



AUG. 10


Young musicians from the metro Detroit region will compete on stage to be named the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival Youth Jazz Vocal Competition winner and secure a performance spot at the world’s largest free jazz festival. Each of the competing finalists will perform two jazz standards with the Detroit Jazz Festival All-Stars (see line-up above).


Set Times:


6:30 & 8:30 p.m. at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe; no cover


Competition winners will have the opportunity to perform live at the Festival, Sept. 1-4 in downtown Detroit.


For more information go to or







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


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July 28, 2017

ShannonPowell w: JA




Blogger Judy Adams with “The King of Treme”, Shannon Powell,  iconic New Orleans virtuoso drummer, who’s toured internationally and played with top such artists as Marcus Roberts, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, and more.  He sat in this past Thursday with Alvin Waddles and his band with bassist Marion Hayden and Djallo Djakate but hinted that he’ll probably be back soon at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. What a musical treat that will be!



Three years ago my fellow blogger, John Osler, and I were invited to write weekly blogs on Jazz for the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe’s website  John’s blog, UpBeat, is very inspiring as he reflects on the art of Jazz and our environs, both local and international. This celebrated artist has been the creator of the last four Detroit Jazz Festival posters based on his amazing paintings and has published the book, Detroit Jazz, that showcases his stunning photographs of Detroit Jazz artists.



The purpose of my blog “Jazz Notes” is to get closer to the music and the artists who create it – both past, present and future. We aim to increase awareness and appreciation for a genre that continues to be vibrant and growing in new directions since its inception, which was approximately 150 years ago.



There’s no shortage of topics to write about  from this longstanding influential genre known as Jazz. It’s been on a continuum since the beginning – ever changing, ever growing but maintaining its foundation. Many music genres and art forms are trends that come and go with no staying power while Jazz is constantly absorbing and reflecting the world around us.



“Jazz Notes” is basically a listening companion. It’s a useful guide for people who are both new to Jazz as well as longtime fans and aficionados as we reflect current and historical Jazz from Detroit’s vibrant Jazz community as well as Jazz around the world. We discuss Jazz form and content and explain common characteristics of Jazz such as the use of improvisation, syncopation, blues scales, and other defining elements that artists draw on. We also emphasize that Jazz is all about individual expression and creative freedom giving artists the permission to break the rules and create outside of the mainstream.



Over the past three years we’ve brought you closer to the music with blogs on:


New Releases in Jazz


Detroit Jazz Birthday Profiles


Jazz History


The Many Styles and Subgenres of Jazz


Key figures and Style Makers


International Jazz


The Origins of Jazz


The Instruments in Jazz (common and uncommon)


We write about the legends of Jazz as well as new and emerging artists who are poised to take this genre into the future.


and much more…



Whether you’ve just found us or have been with us since our inception, we’re glad you’re here to enhance your listening pleasure and broaden your experience with the music as we explore the multi-faceted world of Jazz, one of the most influential genres in music.






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

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July 21, 2017

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




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TK Blue / Amour / Dot Time



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



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



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



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



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







Roscoe Mitchell / Bells for the South Side / ECM


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



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







Songhoy Blues / Bamako / Fat Possum Records


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



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



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



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





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





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July 15, 2017







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


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



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



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



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






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



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



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



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






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





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





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


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


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



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


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


For complete information go to






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




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July 7, 2017






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



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



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










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



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



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



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


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




The ACS Trio performing at the 2013 Portland Jazz Festival.

Photo: Brent Wojahn, The Oregonian


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



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



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


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





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



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





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





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