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Jazz Notes With Judy Adams
April 20, 2017



Herbie Hancock’s 1983 “Future Shock” album.



Jazz artists have been reflecting political issues in their music from the beginning. These have included everything from human rights to the environment. With Earth Day being celebrated this week on April 22, I thought it would be fitting to do an updated “Earth Day” playlist featuring Jazz pieces with an environmental theme. I’ve had no trouble finding pieces to play for Earth Day on my radio shows over the years and some of those compositions are listed below.



This year marks the 47th anniversary of Earth Day, which started back in 1970 when ecological awareness was just beginning to take hold. Many events worldwide will be held, focusing of the environment. The Earth Day Network works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries.



Below is a diverse list of Jazz recordings I assembled that echo what Earth Day is all about. This music inspires us to think about the of natural world and the future of the planet.



List is in alphabetical order: Artist / Title / Album



Mose Allison / The Earth Wants You/ The Earth Wants You


Mulatu Astatke / Green Africa / Mulatu Steps Ahead


Kris Bowers / The Protester / Heroes and Misfits


Cinematic Orchestra / Ode to the Big Sea / Motion


John Coltrane / After the Rain / Impressions


Miles Davis / Gondwana / Pangaea





Pangaea is a double album recorded by Jazz trumpeter Miles Davis and released in 1976 in Japan. It was recorded live in Osaka, Japan in 1975. Personnel includes Miles Davis, trumpet and organ, Sonny Fortune, saxophones and flute, Pete Cosey, guitar, Michael Henderson, bass, Reggie Lucas, guitar, Al Foster, drums and Mtume on percussion.



Kenny Garrett / Welcome Earth Song / Seeds from the Underground


Cameron Graves / Satania Our Solar System / Plantetary Prince







Cameron Graves is the pianist for award-winning saxophonist Kamasi Washington and will be performing at the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival. Planetary Prince is the name of his new album on Detroit’s own Mack Avenue Records.




Herbie Hancock / Earthbeat / Future Shock





Released in 1983, Future Shock is pianist Herbie Hancock’s thirty-fifth album which was a million-selling Platinum disc that contained his hit “Rock It”.  It was the first release from his electro-funk era and an early example of instrumental hip hop.



Jamiroqai / Emergency on Planet Earth / Emergency on Planet Earth


Keith Jarrett / Solara March / Arbour Zena


Jarrett ArbourZena


Arbour Zena is an album composed by American pianist Keith Jarrett featuring saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Charlie Haden and the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mladen Gutesha which was released on the ECM label in 1975.



Les McCann / Burnin’ Coal / Much Les


Larry McCray / Delta Hurricane / Delta Hurricane


Jackie McLean / Rhythm of the Earth / Rhythm of the Earth


Pat Metheny / Rain River / Secret Story


Jim Pepper / Witchi Tai To / Comin’ and Goin’


Flora Purim / The Goddess of Thunder / Speed of Light


Pharoah Sanders / The Creator Has a Master Plan / Karma


Tribe featuring Phil Ranelin / Livin’ in a New Day/ Rebirth


McCoy Tyner / Atlantis / Atlantis


Nana Vasconcelos / Rain Dance / Rain Dance


Sarah Vaughn / On a Clear Day / Live in Japan


Elio Villafranca / Flowers by the Dry River / Caribbean Tinge


Eberhard Weber / Yellow Fields / Yellow Fields


Paul Winter Consort / Whole Earth Chant / Icarus




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 15, 2017

Jam Horizontal (1)




Let’s make every month Jazz Appreciation Month! One of the greatest things this country exports around the world is our music and culture. This includes the American art forms of Jazz and Blues.



As we’ve stated many times in our Jazz Notes blogs – Jazz and Blues have been some of the most important musical genres in the history of music. Their influence on music around the world has made its mark influencing everything from R&B, Rock, Classical, World, Country, to Gospel, Electronic, Hip Hop and everything in between.



Jazz awareness has been steadily growing in the past couple of decades due to efforts by musicians, historians, journalists, educators and other cultural advocates. Jazz studies programs are growing on the high school and university level enabling young people to become acquainted with, and inspired by, the music early on.



Jazz Awareness Month (April) and International Jazz Day (April 30) are two relatively recent examples of America publicly recognizing their enormous contributions to world culture through it’s indigenous art forms of Blues and Jazz – both of which are rooted in African American musical traditions.



These commemorative months/days give us a chance to recognize and celebrate what this country has contributed to world culture. Our nation is still quite young compared to most others and yet we’ve created the most important contemporary musical art forms from the past century…that are celebrated all over the world.



The following text includes excerpts from the Smithsonian’s website which gives us some interesting background on the creation of Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) which is a music festival held every April in the United States, in honor of Jazz as an early American art form.



JAM was created in 2001 by John Edward Hasse, PhD, curator of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Initial funding was provided by the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation. Miss Fitzgerald’s archives are housed at the Smithsonian.



Schools, organizations, and even governments celebrate JAM with events ranging from free concerts to educational programs. JAM is intended to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz – to study the music, attend concerts, listen to jazz on radio and recordings, read books about jazz, and more.


Ella in 3's

Ella Fitzgerald


Jazz Appreciation Month 2017: Women in Jazz


2017 Featured musician: Ella Fitzgerald



This year, being the centennial of Jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald, JAM 2017 will celebrate women in Jazz. Beyond the traditional female vocalist, there are also many great composers, arrangers, orchestrators, and instrumentalists who have and continue to leave an indelible print on the history and future of jazz.



Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) was one of the greatest American singers in any genre of music. She had a warm and lovely voice, superb rhythmic sense, considerable versatility, a great range (three and a half octaves), meticulous intonation, and improvisatory gifts as a fine natural melodist.



With an unparalleled ability for mimicry and “scat” singing, Fitzgerald also produced melodic lines that put her in the category of great instrumental improvisers. Known as a singer’s singer, she recorded some two thousand songs in her lifetime.



The Ella Fitzgerald Collection, including the Ella Fitzgerald Papers, was donated in 1996 to the National Museum of American History, which has led to a rich amount of resources available for Jazz scholars, teachers, students and fans.



Celebrating 100 years of the First Lady of Song


In the 1930s, amateur contests were among the most popular attractions at theaters in Ella Fitzgerald’s neighborhood of Harlem, NY. At age 16, Ella Fitzgerald and two of her girlfriends wanted to get onstage. They made a bet and drew straws to see which one of them would go on the amateur hour at the Apollo Theater — Ella drew the short straw! Ella had studied dance and was planning to perform a dance number. Why did she end up singing instead? Because she was so thrown off guard by the success of the two teenaged dancing sisters that performed before she was supposed to go onstage.



Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz singer often referred to as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz and Lady Ella. She was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a “horn-like” improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.



After tumultuous teenage years, Fitzgerald found stability in musical success with the Chick Webb Orchestra, performing across the country, but most often associated with the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem. Fitzgerald’s rendition of the nursery rhyme “A-Tisket, A-Tasket” helped boost both her and Webb to national fame. Taking over the band after Webb died, Fitzgerald left it behind in 1942 to start a solo career that would last effectively the rest of her life.







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 6, 2017





The 38th annual Detroit Jazz Festival has recently announced that its artist-in-residence for 2017 is saxophonist/composer and Jazz Master, Wayne Shorter.




The residency program started in 2007 with Detroit based violinist Regina Carter, and has featured such extraordinary musicians as Joshua Redman, Danilo Perez, Terence Blanchard, Jeff “Tain” Watts, Christian McBride, Pat Metheny and Ron Carter among others.  The New York Times has described Shorter as “probably jazz’s greatest living small-group composer and a contender for greatest living improviser.”




Wayne Shorter has won 10 Grammys awards and Sweden’s 2017 Polar Music Prize. In 2016, Shorter was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the field of music composition, the only Jazz artist to receive the honor that year.






Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis. Shorter was a member of Miles Davis Second Great Quintet (1964-68) with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams



He is one of the most prolific composers in contemporary Jazz and has written so many pieces that are now standards within the repertoire. These include “Footprints”, “Nefertiti”, “Infant Eyes” and others.



The residency program spotlights the chosen artist playing multiple sets spanning the four-day Jazz festival. Mr. Shorter, 83 will headline on the opening night with his internationally acclaimed quartet with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. He will also perform in a quintet with Geri Allen, Leo Genovese, Esperanza Spalding and Terri Lyne Carrington. Festival Artistic Director Chris Collins calls this grouping a “unique coming together of different artists of different generations”.



Shorter said in a recent press release that “performing at the Detroit Jazz Festival is something I’ve received the opportunity to do on several occasions, and each time it’s combined a phenomenal atmosphere with immeasurable talent, which is why I keep coming back. I am extremely honored to expand my Festival participation this year by becoming the Detroit Jazz Festival’s Artist-in-Residence.”



In the months leading up to the festival, the prestigious position also includes conducting master classes and educational activities with new and emerging Jazz talent from our community and an intimate duet performance with pianist Danilo Perez at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe on April 20th.  For tickets and information call 313-469-6564 ext. 202.







We will be devoting a future blog to discussing Mr. Shorter’s music and his significant contributions to the Jazz idiom including his work with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Weather Report and Joni Mitchell as well as his current projects. Stay tuned!





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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March 31, 2017







One of the most influential musicians in Jazz, Pontiac born drummer,  Elvin Jones (9/9/27-5/18/04)  is best known for his work with the John Coltrane Quartet 1960-1966.



Rhythm is inherent in all music containing two or more notes. And, generally speaking,  rhythm itself is a defining, essential ingredient in Jazz. Many times it’s the characteristic rhythmic patterns of the genre that tells we’re listening to Jazz. Quite often these patterns reflect various dance styles.



The patterns 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, Latin Jazz, Free and experimental Jazz, Fusion and all of the other styles Jazz has developed in the last 100+ years. Each style has its own rhythmic, and therefore, drumming and percussion style.



Of course there are other factors that define these styles such as instrumentation and compositional structure, but rhythms seems to top the list with their prominence and immediate and physical affect on the listener- especially in Jazz.



Some believe say it’s the visceral effect of rhythm we feel first, especially when it’s 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 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 the Caribbean, Africa and elsewhere.



Drums and percussion have been essential in Jazz instrumentation since the very beginning and continue to be part of most combos or three or more musicians to this day.



Detroit has had its share of legendary drummers, with a long list that covers many decades and includes such luminaries and style makers such as Elvin Jones, Roy Brooks, Louis Hayes, J.C. Heard, Don Moye, Ali Jackson, Pheeroan akLaff, Frank Isola, Art Mardigan,and others.






Detroit born drummer Roy Brooks (3/9/38-11/15/05) performing a tribute to Miles Davisat the 1991 Detroit Jazz Festival.  This powerful drummer played with everyone from Yusef Lateef and Barry Harris to Horace Silver and Max Roach.



Some current Detroit drummers who’ve made their mark include Nate Winn, Karriem Riggins, Gayelynn McKinney, Leonard King, Alex White, Djallo Djakate, Mahindi Masai, Renell Gonzalves, Jessie Kramer, Gerald Cleaver, Skeeto Valdez, and Sean Dobbins who performs with his band at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe from Wednesday April 5th through Saturday, April 8th.





Prolific, drummer, educator, and Kresge Arts Fellow,  Gayelynn McKinney, is part of the legendary Detroit musical  McKinney family and is the daughter of the late pianist and composer, Harold McKinney.  The above photo was taken at Bert’s Marketplace with pianist Bill Meyer and Ralph Armstrong on bass.




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Drummer Alex White with James Carter






Drummer and educator, Sean Dobbins, at the Dirty Dog with Diego Rivera, saxophone, Michael Dease, trombone,Corey Kendrick, piano, Marion Hayden, bass.



Detroit Music Factory recording artist, Sean Dobbins, is one of the most sought after drummers of choice performing today. He’s performed with such Jazz notables as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Johnny O’Neal, Cyrus Chestnut, James “Blood” Ulmer, and many others.



He’s also one of the top Jazz educators in this region and is on the faculties at the University of Michigan, Oakland University and Wayne State University. He also serves as the Artistic Director of Jazz Ensembles for the Detroit Symphony and is the Executive Artistic Director of the South Eastern Music Academy.





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

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March 23, 2017




Latin Jazz comes to the Dirty Dog with the return of  Alberto Nacif’s Aguanko septet March 29 thru April 1. The band which draws on Afro-Cuban musical traditions is one of the premiere Latin groups in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and has been internationally recognized as well.



Latin Jazz is always a favorite for most Jazz and world music fans, and music fans in general. The centuries old rhythms are so infectious especially in a live setting when it’s interesting to watch the percussion-based music being created right before your eyes and ears. Latin music is also primarily a dance-based idiom.



It’s so interesting to read about the history and role Latin music played during Jazz’s formative years with the influence of the Cuban based habanera or tango rhythm into Jazz’s basic syncopated rhythmic structure. As with most musical art forms, Latin Jazz was/is a hybrid of various styles that were fused to create a new sound.



Latin music brought together musical elements from African, Moorish, and European traditions and music from the indigenous peoples of the Americas. This art form started when Europeans began migrating to the Americas in the 16th century.



The forms contained rhythmic figures with roots in the middle east that were brought to Spain and North Africa by the Moors centuries earlier. This also included folk-loric singing styles and instrumentation that is still synonymous with Latin music today. These cultural elements were then brought into the formation of Latin Jazz.



What makes Aguanko great is the authenticity of the music under the direction of Alberto Nacif who was born in Quaxaca on the west coast of Mexico where the local music was filled with Cuban influences.





Band leader/composer Alberto Nacif and Aguanko performing at the Detroit Jazz Festival




Starting to play conga and bongos early on he moved to Detroit while in his mid-teens and immediately got involved in our city’s fervent music scene that included everything from Disco to Latin Jazz.



Soon after, he started taking lessons from and/or performing with major Latin Jazz artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Arturo Sandoval, Santana’s Armando Peraza, Danilo Perez, Manuel “Anga Diaz” from Irakere, Tomas “Panga” Ramos of Cubanismo and Jose “Pepe” Espinosa of the Afro-Cuban All-stars among others.



Here in Detroit, he led the Latin Jazz groups “Cubop”, Tumbao Bravo, and now Aguanko. This band features many of Alberto Nacif’s original compositions played by an impressive array of Detroit based talent which includes Jose “Pepe” Espinosa on percussion, Javier Barrios on timbales, pianists Wesley Reynoso and/or Rick Roe, and percussionist Nacif who round out the Latin core of the band that also features Pat Prouty on bass, Russ Miller, sax and flute, Anthony Stanco trumpet, Chris Smith trombone and others. They definitely create a percussive Latin big band sound.



This multi-award winning band will have a new album out this Spring featuring lots of Alberto Nacif’s original music performed by the core group and many guest artists from Ann Arbor and Detroit. I wouldn’t be surprised if they played some of this new music for us during their 4-night stint at the Dirty Dog.  Join us and find out!







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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March 16, 2017



Photo by John Osler






The super-talented pianist, composer, producer and educator, Ian Finkelstein, returns to the Dirty Dog for four nights, from Wednesday March 22 to Saturday March 25. He’ll be with his trio, playing a mix of Jazz standards and his own compositions.



I first met him ten years ago while producing the Discovery series at the Music Hall, which featured new and emerging Jazz talent from local high schools and universities.



Ian really stood out as he played with well-honed technical skills and a good understanding of improvisational structure, especially since he was just in his mid-teens. Other young stand outs in our series included pianists, Michael Malis, Jon Dixon, and Michael Jellick, drummers Jesse Kramer and Alex White, saxophonists Marcus Elliot, Rafael Statin, and De’Sean Jones among others.



Now in their mid to late twenties, they’re taking their place among the Jazz professionals that are part of Detroit’s serious current Jazz scene. Many of them have begun touring around the world and all have played the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe which has a reputation for supporting new and emerging local talent.



Ian’s certainly been busy paying his dues, these past ten years, graduating 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, Marcus Belgrave and others. In fact, he’ll be performing again with Hurst in Germany this April.



In 2014 he performed in Marcus Belgrave’s band at Dizzy’s Club Coco-Cola 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. But they were practicing restraint, too, playing in service to the song, and the bandleader”.



A fan of many kinds of music, Finkelstein says some of his favorites are Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Jaki Byard, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Cox, Roy Ayers, Theo Parrish, Scott Grooves and others. He also enjoys composing electronic music and has a new album that expresses his electronic side coming out next month, on Discovery Records.









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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March 8, 2017





Renowned Jazz bassist and Mack Avenue recording artist, Rodney Whitaker was born in Detroit on February 22, 1968. He first studied violin at age eight and, at age thirteen, took up the acoustic bass. He studied the instrument without much interest until he had a “lightning bolt style” realization when a neighbor played him music from John Coltrane’s 1958 album Soultrane, featuring the iconic bassist from Detroit, Paul Chambers. That was definitely a career defining moment for young Mr. Whitaker.



While attending Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School, Whitaker studied with influential music instructor, Herbie Williams. He also met saxophonist/educator Donald Washington, leader and founder of the ensemble Bird/Trane/Sco/Now! and soon joined the band where he studied and performed the music of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and others.



He attended Wayne State University and studied with Marcus Belgrave, bassists Stephen Molina, Ralphe Armstrong, and Robert Gladstone, principal bassist with the Detroit Symphony. Marcus Belgrave said “Rodney is the most energetic bass player I’ve encountered,” he expressed in the Metro Times. “When he was in school, I knew he was going to be a great player.”



Rodney first received international attention while performing with the Donald Harrison/ Terence Blanchard Quintet. He also spent several years with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, and toured internationally with trumpeter Roy Hargrove.



Besides being respected as an award-winning world-class musician, Whitaker is also a highly committed and respected educator and is currently Professor of Jazz Bass and Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University, a position he has had for more than 15 years.





Other prestigious positions include being Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Jazz Orchestra and a member of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He is also on the faculty at the University of Michigan and the Julliard School of Music in New York.



As an accomplished virtuoso Jazz bassist, Whitaker has played with many of the top performers and style-makers in Jazz. These include such legendary performers as Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Burrell, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett, Donald Byrd, The Count Basie Orchestra with Stefon Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Betty Carter and countless others.



Rodney Whitaker has been mentoring younger musicians throughout his career and I’m sure it’s very gratifying for him to perform with many of his former students who have pursued music careers – many of whom have followed in his footsteps and have gone on to become educators and mentors themselves.



He is very proud of the mentoring program he oversees as Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State. He proudly boasts “we probably have the best mentoring system in the country. People leave here feeling empowered, feeling they have a mentor, someone who is there for them. Our motto in this program is, ‘Each one, teach one’. As soon as you get mentored, it’s your obligation to find a younger person and mentor them. We see grad students mentoring undergrads, older students mentoring freshmen. It’s part of the jazz tradition, and it’s what I grew up with in the African American community”.




Rodney Whitaker performing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe




The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is proud to present Rodney Whitaker and his group this week, March 8-11, 2017. His band is made up of star players including Corey Kendrick, piano, Ben Stocker, tenor saxophone, Sean Dobbins drums, Rockelle Fortin vocals and leader, Rodney Whitaker on bass.







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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March 2, 2017


Bassist, Educator,and Kresge Fellow, Marion Hayden


With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, it’s a good time to revisit the topic of women’s role in Jazz. The good news is there are definitely more women performing Jazz today than a few decades ago. The steady rise of female Jazz instrumentalists, in particular, is very encouraging.



However, it doesn’t mean we’re even close to achieving gender parity on the bandstand. Until recently, roughly 8% of Jazz musicians were women. And today it’s grown to 15%.






Internationally renowned Jazz Violinist, Regina Carter



Since the debut of the Grammys in 1959, out of the 262 awards in various Jazz categories, 216 went to male performers and only 46 were given to female musicians. But because an artist can receive several awards, in reality only 26 women in Jazz have been honored in the past 68 years!





Highly influential Jazz Vocalist, Betty “Bebop” Carter




The National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship has honored 132 Jazz masters in 32 years with only 16 women among them.



Needless to say, Jazz has remained a male dominated field. Women have been primarily singers but rarely instrumentalists. Historically speaking, the “band” was male territory and some felt women would jinx the group – that they were bad luck or couldn’t cut it. Luckily, these attitudes have started to fade.



Things began to change in the 1960’s. It was the dawn of the women’s movement – empowering women to take on new roles. With more women attending college, coupled with the increase of Jazz studies programs on the high school and college levels, there has been a relatively small but steady increase of women in Jazz. These women have become role models for the generations that follow.



ACS Jazz


The multi-generational super group, ACS, featuring Geri Allen, piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums performing at the 2013 Portland Jazz Festival.  Photo:  Brent Wojahn, The Oregonian



Leading pianist, and Cass Tech graduate, Geri Allen told Jazzwise magazine, “I remember hearing Terry Pollard – the great pianist from Detroit – when I was a teenager, and that moment changed my life.”



In the same article, multi-award winning bassist, Esperanza Spalding said, “women have made a profound contribution to Jazz, one that can sometimes be overlooked. Seeing an all-female trio playing at the highest level and headlining major festivals will offer huge inspiration and encouragement to younger female players.”



Over the years, Detroit has been blessed with many other significant female Jazz artists who are respected world wide including pianist/harpist Alice Coltrane, harpist Dorothy Ashby, vocalist Betty “Bebop” Carter, violinist Regina Carter, bassist Marion Hayden, drummer Gayelynn McKinney, and many more.





Detroit’s Jazz Impressaria, Gretchen Valade  /  Photo: Crain’s Detroit Business



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.



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



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.”



She also started her own Jazz record labels, Mack Avenue Records, which features an array of internationally acclaimed artists such as Gary Burton and Joey DeFrancesco and now considered one of the most successful Jazz labels in the world. She also started the Detroit Music Factory label, which promotes top Detroit based artists such as Ralphe Armstrong, 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, Pat Metheny, Barry Harris, Roy Hargrove, and many others.



The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe regularly showcases women artists from Tia Fuller and Grace Kelly to Shahida Nurullah, Ursula Walker, Thornetta Davis, Kimmie Horn, Marion Hayden, Freda Payne, Gayelynn McKinney, Vanessa Rubin. Check “Upcoming Shows” at for more information.





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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February 24, 2017

DJF poster






DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE, FEBRUARY 27, 2017 at 6:30 &


Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe 313.882.5299 97 Kercheval in Grosse Pointe Farms



All photos by JOHN OSLER





Detroit Jazz Festival Allstar leader, saxophonist and educator, Chris Collins, performing with students during last month’s Jam session



You’re are invited to sit in with the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars or join us in the audience to hear amazing Jazz from a wide range of Detroit Jazz artists.


The Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation team will be there to collect demos and performance proposals for the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival. Artists are also encouraged to submit materials on their website: The Dirty Dog will be serving from a special discounted menu, including $5 sliders.





Trumpeter and Jazz Educator, John Douglas





Bassist and Jazz Educator, Ralph Armstrong



This Monday, Detroit Jazz Festival Jam Session Band includes:


Chris Collins / Saxophonist and Band leader of Detroit Jazz Festival All-stars, and Detroit Jazz Festival Artistic Director, and Director of the Jazz Studies program at Wayne State University


John Douglas / Trumpet

Buddy Budson / Piano

Ralph Armstrong / Bass

Sean Dobbins / Drums




Drummer and Educator, Sean Dobbins



Witnessing the wealth of new and emerging Jazz talent from the metro-Detroit area is so inspiring. These “kids” can really play! There’s so much talent in the room, it’s amazing and the participants get to play with the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars who are some of the top Jazz artists around.


The All-stars’ musicians are also Jazz educators who on the faculties of many of the high schools and universities these the students come from.  These Jam session /Detroit Jazz Festival auditions will occur on the fourth Monday of each month through June 26. The dates are March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26.


Do you or someone you know have aspirations of playing at the Detroit Jazz Festival held each Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit? Then join us for these special Monday night Jam sessions. For more 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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February 15, 2017

Schunk B&W at keyboard_DSC5387 (1)



Pianist Gary Schunk / Photo by John Osler



Award-winning pianist and composer, Gary Schunk, has been one of Detroit’s premiere Jazz artists for more than four decades. He brings his talents to the Dirty Dog this week from Wednesday 2/15 thru Saturday, 2/18.



What Schunk brings to the music is a complete package of skills and abilities that come together to make a flawless and enriching performance. These include his playing ability that allows him to have the tools to express his creative, musical ideas in interesting and artful ways. He is able to communicate the emotional and structural aspects of the music to the audience – thus enhancing their live musical experience. That’s what seasoned, true artists can do.



He is a creative improviser due partly to his Classical and Jazz music theory training and his composition talents. He is also equally proficient in many different styles of music from Blues and Bebop to Soul, Fusion and Electronic. He performs and records with his Electric Jazz Trio as well as an acoustic one and plays both electric and acoustic keyboards as well as organ, and synthesizers.



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The Gary Schunk Trio at the Dirty Dog / Photo by John Osler



Based primarily in his hometown of Detroit, the Classically trained Schunk received his B.A. in Piano Performance from Michigan State University in 1975. He then studied privately with the celebrated European classical pianist, Gyorgy Sandor. He also studied organ, piano, and choral music at the Palestrina Institute of Ecclesiastical Music, in Detroit, from 1965 to 1970.



Well versed in many genres, he has not only been featured with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, but has played at every Detroit Jazz Festival since its inception in 1980!



In an interview conducted by broadcaster Nkenge Zola, the late Detroit trumpet master, Marcus Belgrave, said that “Gary Schunk is probably one of the greatest pianists around, because he can do it all. He’s really studied the music, and every aspect of it; he doesn’t shirk any responsibilities of the music….he keeps me on my toes”.


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Gary Schunk performing on the Dirty Dog’s Steinway Grand / photo by John Osler



Schunk has several Jazz recordings out that feature many of his own compositions. His latest album, Kayak, is on Detroit Music Factory records, and features bassist, Ray Parker, and acclaimed drummer/composer Peter Erskine.



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Over the course of his career, Gary has toured, played and/or recorded with a diverse list of top name artists including Joe Williams, Earl Klugh, Kenny Burrell, Anita O’Day, Sonny Stitt, Donna Summer, The Temptations, Gladys Knight, George Clinton and the Funkadelic and many more. As an in-demand studio musician he’s plays a multitude of genres from Gospel, Country, Funk and Motown to Broadway Theater, Classical, Film music and more.



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Treat yourself to a musically rich evening of piano Jazz with the Gary Schunk Trio, performing through Saturday, February 18 at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. For more information and reservations, 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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