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A Perfectly Tuned Evening Every Time...
Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog is one of the premiere destinations in the United States for world class Jazz and cuisine. It combines the charm of an English-style pub with intimacy and meticulous attention to detail and hospitality.
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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.
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Upbeats With John Osler
December 10, 2018

DETROIT JAZZ, THE BOOK

JAZZ BOOK cover4

Cover photo of Will Austin at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café

 

One of Detroit’s greatest assets is her first class hard working musicians. Jazz drifted up the Mississippi River from New Orleans through St Louis and Chicago and spread to the bustling city of Detroit. The music found fertile ground and the city has played a key role in the development of the music from the early 30s until today. A tradition of discipline, good mentoring and living the stories has made Detroit the schoolhouse for jazz. Through good times and tough times the motor city has driven the world’s music machine. Hardship has only strengthened our jazz.  The music has always been passed on by respected and tough taskmasters to eager young musicians. From time to time there have been moments that have challenged keeping jazz alive in Detroit. A major threat happened about a decade ago.

 

Detroit’s defining music was at a crossroads following an exodus of businesses, jobs and people from our city. One of Detroit’s greatest assets, its jazz, was as powerful and robust as it had ever been, with many young artists ready to carry on. However, Detroit was reeling. Detroit is a city where even in tough times we keep showing up and showing up. Sure enough someone showed up, stood tall and helped save one the world’s great treasures.

 

 

GRETCHEN VALADE

 

Gretchen Valade’s love of the music carried the day . Mack Avenue Records was founded, The Detroit Jazz Festival was saved from extinction and The Dirty Dog Jazz Café opened its doors. The story will be told over and over by the musicians who have been touched by Detroit jazz’s angel.

 

It was my good fortune to have  been given access  to photograph the musicians who were playing at venues that had been made possible by the generous acts of Gretchen Valade.  A few years ago I assembled these photographs in a book,  DETROIT JAZZ  Documenting the legacy of Gretchen Valade. The book is a collection of my photographs of Detroit’s great jazz artists shot during the years when Detroit and jazz were recovering, thanks to Gretchen’s generous actions. It is my  attempt to document the results of one woman’s dream,  I wanted the world to know that Detroit’s jazz community has never faltered. This book is an attempt to document this time of renewal. I hope that the book respects and honors all of the artists, Detroit and Gretchen.

 

 

Documenting The Legacy Of Gretchen Valade

 

To help document what Gretchen has accomplished all of the photographs selected for this book were shot at the Dirty Dog and the Detroit Jazz Festival. Detroit has so many other musicians and venues which also deserve recognition. The rich lode of talent that play in Detroit has barely been touched in this book.

 

I would like to thank all of the local and national artists  who performed in these venues. Opening the door to this remarkable world were Gretchen’s right hand, Tom Robinson, Chef André Neimanis, Manager Willie Jones and all the staff of the Dirty Dog. Thanks also to the Detroit Jazz Festival and it’s director, Chris Collin. Of course, thanks to Gretchen, whose strength and foresight have provided the gentle push for both the music and this book. I hope that the book respects and honors all of the artists, Detroit and Gretchen.

 

If you ever want to be reminded of this great story of jazz and Detroit in photographs, you might consider picking up the book.

 

TO GET THE BOOK

 

When you come by the Dirty Dog ask to see the book. They will be pleased to show you the book and give you a chance to get a first edition copy. This book makes a great gift to anyone who likes jazz, Detroit or photography.

 

You can order the book online on Amazon or for a signed copy contact us at j.osler@att.net or call John at 313.886.4728 and we will get books out to you.

 

The book can also be purchased at the DIA.

 

Thank again to Gretchen and all those whose passion for jazz and Detroit helped me to produce the photographs that make up this book. I would also thank the citizens of Detroit who remind me every day that those things that seem out of reach are possible.

 

John Osler

 

Here are some pages from the book.

 

detroit Jazz 10 0458 detroit Jazz 10 0416 detroit Jazz 10 0413 _DSC1430 detroit Jazz 10 0431 detroit Jazz 10 0422 detroit Jazz 10 0432 detroit Jazz 10 0441 detroit Jazz 10 0445 detroit Jazz 10 0450 detroit Jazz 10 0429 detroit Jazz 10 0420 detroit Jazz 10 0426 detroit Jazz 10 0414 gretchen

 

 

COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG

 

December 12-15

 

 

DAVE McMURRAY

 

One of the jazz world’s greatest spirits will strip away any of your late winter blahs this week. Bring your most youthful attitude. David deserves and accepts applause

 

    

 

 

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December 3, 2018

 

WILLIES’ CORNER

 

TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK

 

“AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH THE RIGHT TEAM. I AM CONSTANTLY REMINDED OF THIS ON A DAILY BASIS AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ. SOMETIMES WHEN I RETURN FROM VACATION I AM REMINDED OF THE VALUE OF MY TEAM KEEPING THINGS CONSISTENT AND TOGETHER IN MY ABSENCE. WHAT A GREAT FEELING. IT’S THE SAME FEELING WE TRY TO ACHIEVE WITH OUR GUESTS ON A DAILY BASIS BY DELIVERING TO THEM GREAT SERVICE, GOOD COMFORT FOOD, A SUPER RELAXED AND INTIMATE ENVIRONMENT AND OF COURSE GREAT JAZZ.

 

THE MUSICIANS ARE ALSO PART OF OUR STAFF SO YOU CAN EXPECT TO BE TREATED WITH GREAT ENTERTAINMENT BY GREAT ENTERTAINERS. THE MUSICIANS ARE JUST AS ACCESSIBLE TO YOU AS YOUR SERVER. THEY LOVE TAKING CARE OF THE DIRTY DOG AUDIENCE, NOT JUST MUSICALLY.  YOU CAN ALSO EXPECT TO SEE THE ALREADY BEAUTIFULLY APPOINTED CAFE GET TRANSFORMED INTO AN EVEN MORE GORGEOUS AND HOLIDAY GRACED DECOR THIS DECEMBER.

 

DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, COME ON OUT AND SPEND AN EVENING WITH US AT THE DIRTY DOG.”

 

WILLIE JONES

 

 

Willie has put together a great team, because Willie is a really good team leader. The staff at the Dirty Dog work with the kind of teamwork that makes tasks smaller, lessens risk of failure and gives us one of the best jazz clubs in the world. Some of the traits that Willie infuses in his staff could possibly come from the proximity to the jazz artists.

TEAMWORK AND JAZZ

 

Jazz is a unique genre because it is the unpredictable result of a group of musicians with varying ideas and skills making the decision to work together. Jazz artists are dependent on teamwork and I think that we can all learn by looking at a few things that jazz musicians know to do.

 

 

Jazz artists trust and respect their bandmates

 

Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and great teams know how to balance these differences. Jazz greats often collaborated with other greats and welcomed newcomers. Jazz artists inspire each other to do their best.  Jazz artists have each other’s backs.

 

 

Jazz artists listen and communicate

 

Jazz is mostly about listening, as improvisation requires a great deal of communication. Musicians communicate with each other using a variety of cues, either musical  or visual (a nod, wink or smile ). These cue systems may be specific to  musicians, but we can imagine a different set of cues for a team project that would work just as well.

 

 

Jazz artists share goals

 

All musicians want to share their personal visions and use their unique skill to move the story to a new place. They also know enough to get out of each others way. They work together and are committed to doing their best.

 

  

 

Jazz artists think it should be fun

 

Having fun is contagious and it starts at the top. A joyous workplace happens when we know that hard work and a good time are both possible, when there is respect, when there is communication and when there is a shared goal of

excellence.

John Osler

 

 

Willie Jones, Chef Andre and all the Dirty Dog team have learned to listen to and respect each other. Maybe that is why musicians and customers have so much fun being around the place.

 

 

THIS DECEMBER AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

This month the Dirty Dog Jazz Café will present four of Detroit’s most emblematic jazz artists. Four good people who have special gifts,  big hearts, and stories to tell. They will provide us with four weeks of hot jazz for our cold December days.

As the great Fats Waller said back in 1937:   The piano’s thumpin’

The dancers are bumpin’…The joint is jumpin’.

 

December 3-8

 

 

 

THORNETTA DAVIS

 

Tis the season to be jolly,

 

Thornetta knows that Detroit knows that the blues are all right. She will take all our concerns on her shoulders and and replace them with some upbeat blues and a few seasonal tunes.

 

 

 

 

 

December 12-15

 

 

 

DAVE McMURRAY

 

One of the jazz world’s greatest spirits will strip away any of your late winter blahs this week. Bring your most youthful attitude. David deserves and accepts applause

 

    

 

 

December 19-22

 

 

SHAHIDA NURULLA

 

Put your snow shovel aside and  discover what Shahida Nurullah is up to. Sometimes we overuse the word resilient . Whatever, resilient is the first word that comes to mind that best describes Shahida. Hers has been a life of bouncing back and then being asked to bounce back again. The bumps in her life included a serious accident that left her challenged to speak. Well, her beautiful voice is a testimony to the recuperative power of music. Don’t miss Shahida. We are blessed

to be able to hear her inspirational voice which will be on display Wednesday through Saturday.

 

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December 26-29 + New Years Eve

 

 

GENE DUNLAP

 

Gene Dunlap will edit out everything except his personal thoughts, his power and his compelling spirit. Gene is one of the most respected jazz artists in Detroit. He will bring power and grace to the Dirty Dog on New Years Eve to finish out  a grand year of jazz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 29, 2018

 

 

GROWING UP WITH ART

“You were born an original.  Don’t die a copy.”  – John Mason

 

 

My Dad’s drawings filled his studio.

 

I have never been without art. I have been surrounded by beautiful designs and sounds. Everything I touch and buy has been designed to please me. Most of my life will be lived within an environment designed by others. How my sight lines are broken and varied has been thought out by someone that I don’t know. I can only hope that they have had some art  in their background. I was lucky to grow up in Detroit. Detroit has had a rich history of good  design. It was to be one half of a spoke wheel. It has a center and it has ways to get to the center. It also has a large part of its boundary on a constantly changing river. I have lived in a city that has great art institutions and until recently it has had a good arts program for its children.

 

ANTOINE DE LA MOTHE CADILLAC

 

Antoine had Paris in mind when he made his plan for Detroit, which was our good luck.

 

Cadillac was in many ways a scoundrel. He made up his name to conceal his past. He was best known for selling booze to the Indians. On the plus side he did have an adventurous spirit and a sense of art which seems to have lasted in our imperfect city. He was so Detroit.

 

woodward_plan_blog

 

For the last few years creative types have been streaming into a vibrant Detroit.  At the very same time we have been shedding music and art programs in Detroit schools. This does not bode well for Detroit. Detroit is a city that still has a lot of planning to do. We will need art/design. It will all start with our children having more paintbrushes, musical instruments, paid instructors and exposure to the arts in their lives.

 

“Creativity takes courage.”  Henri Matisse

 

 

Having art in our lives is often undervalued. The beauty, tranquility, excitement, color, sounds, design and accessibility of the world around us is a result of the sensibilities of those who we put in charge. As we walk through our town we travel in a sea of good design or uninspiring sameness. For some of us this doesn’t matter as we are just passing through.  For those who wake up every day in the same place, design of the place is important.

 

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.”  – Mary Lou Cook

 

 

Music and art will always be hanging around, waiting to pick up the pieces when everything else starts to crumble. Jazz rose to life out of the voices of those who were unheard. When everything else is taken away from us, we will still have jazz. Jazz like all arts is the free expression of possibilities. It gives us a chance to succeed without asking us to change. A lot of children could sure use some of this.

 

  

 

The importance of art and jazz in our community.

 

I have always been interested in the influence of the arts on society and the influence of society on the arts. Intertwined in all of this is how education is often affected by the arts and how the arts are dependent on education. The children who most could benefit from arts programs in their schools are often the first to lose art and music programs.

 

I became an advocate for continuing arts programs in the schools when four young teenagers appeared at my open studio door at Detroit’s Scarab Club. It turned out that they were killing time before reading their poetry at a Harlem Renaissance celebration at the Wright Museum just down the street. I asked them to come in, and for the next half hour they talked to me and to each other about how the writing arts changed the direction of their lives.

 

Somewhere in the middle of our discussion they discovered that they shared the same feeling of hopelessness in their young lives. Most days they had seen  little chance of success and had gotten little encouragement. They began starting each morning writing. They found that they could create their own world as they saw fit, control the endings to their stories, and no one could tell them that they were wrong. In art success is only defined by the artist. That is what makes it art.

 

They all have gone on to share their writing and seemed to have confidence in their futures. I sat and listened and was deeply affected by their spontaneous revelations. Since then I have thought of how many young lives could be changed with the introduction of a positive art moment in their lives.

 

  

 

From time to time, sitting surrounded by art at the at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, Tom Robinson has expressed his concerns to me about keeping young people aware of jazz. He wondered out loud how we can preserve this art form in a time when there is so much competition for our attention. His conversations were reinforced after listening to mentors in jazz and the arts talk about the difficulty of teaching young artists following the decline of art and music programs in Detroit schools.

 

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING

 

We know it when we see a place designed and built during a time when the arts were under serviced, a community built by someone who probably chose austerity over posterity. Today with so much of the public investment in arts programs being taken off the table, most of the money necessary to sustain our cultural environment will be coming from those who are able and generous.

 

Often these generous and well meaning individuals, corporations  or foundations miss an opportunity to include those who would most benefit from programs in the arts, those children who don’t have a chance to get even a whiff of the arts.

 

In Detroit we are fortunate to have many well run art and music programs available.

 

Unfortunately these programs don’t touch everyone.

 

 

HITTING THE TARGET

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation just announced $20 million in new funding to strengthen the arts in Detroit. The foundation has already invested $52 million in the arts since 2012. Knight further committed $30 million to the so-called Grand Bargain, which helped Detroit emerge from bankruptcy in 2014 while meeting its obligations to pensioners and preserving the permanent collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts.These investments underscore Knight’s commitment to Detroit. Their generous investment will assure us that our anchor arts institutions will be secure. This is well worth doing.

 

BUT MAYBE WE COULD START AIMING AT A DIFFERENT TARGET

 

I would like some generosity aimed at:

 

Those kids that will never get to the symphony or the DIA. The kids who can’t get a ride to try out with The Mosaic Theatre. Those kids that do go to school on time and deserve to have their creative juices kickstarted by an arts program and an enthusiastic teacher. Those kids who need to learn that it OK to fail as long as you get up and try again. Those kids that should be able to remember that first thing they created and shared.

 

SONY DSC

 

Jazz pianist and mentor Buddy Budson with piano student at the Carr Center

 

LET ME KNOW HOW YOU FEEL

 

I would like to start a conversation to see if I am right to be concerned. Together we can seek out paths to assure that one of Detroit’s biggest assets, its creativity, is secure.

I know a lot of jazz artists are spending time with young musicians and many more would jump at the opportunity to teach the next generation. On this blog we can talk about what programs work and what still needs to be done. Let’s share good stories and pass them on. Join the conversation by leaving a comment or email me at j.osler@att.net.

 

John Osler

 

THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG

 

November 28 – December 1

 

 

An explosion of spirit will be heard this week at the Dirty Dog. Aquanko, an assembly of some of Detroit’s very best musicians, will celebrate Latin jazz in this intimate club. You are invited to come by, lean back and enjoy some powerful music.

 

  

     

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November 19, 2018

GIVING THANKS

 

NORMAN ROCKWELL

 

THE HARVEST

 

The blessing of the harvest happens around the world signaling that the growing season is over, and one should start thinking about hunkering down for the winter. I always start the holiday season by thanking whoever it was that decided to have us celebrate Thanksgiving on a Thursday, thus guaranteeing us a four day holiday. This gives us three days to recover, to visit with family and to renew old friendships.

 

Thanksgiving  is a straightforward name for a holiday.  It is a command and an opportunity. We are given this day to be with our family or friends and to express our appreciation for our good fortune. I am always comforted, and I am truly thankful when I look around after dinner and see a well fed family warmed by good feelings for one another. I am also often thankful for a quiet moment alone after overeating once again.

 

Thanksgiving, in colonial times was a harvest holiday in which the colonists offered thanks for a good harvest, in 1621, when the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts celebrated their first successful harvest with some Native American tribesmen. Thanksgiving became a regularly celebrated national holiday only during the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of national Thanksgiving in 1863. The holiday later became fixed to the fourth Thursday in November by an act of the United States Congress in 1941.

 

Thanksgiving is a holiday when we do not shop because we are being thankful for the things we have and are saving our energy for Black Friday. Thanksgiving is a time to relax, tell well worn family jokes, watch the Lions and then recover from watching the Lions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Gathering, a Thanksgiving Poem by Billy Collins

 

Outside, the scene was right for the season,

heavy gray clouds and just enough wind
to blow down the last of the yellow leaves.

 

But the house was different that day,
so distant from the other houses,
like a planet inhabited by only a dozen people

 

with the same last name and the same nose
rotating slowly on its invisible axis.
Too bad you couldn’t be there

 

but you were flying through space on your own asteroid
with your arm around an uncle.
You would have unwrapped your scarf

 

and thrown your coat on top of the pile
then lifted a glass of wine
as a tiny man ran across a screen with a ball.

 

You would have heard me
saying grace with my elbows on the tablecloth
as one of the twins threw a dinner roll across the room at the other.

 

GRANDMA MOSES

 

GIVING THANKS

 

Giving thanks is very personal. Ordinary things happen in our lives that we take for granted until Thanksgiving. On this day we give thanks that there will be someone to stand up and give us a hand or a nudge when we need it. We remember all the unbelievably beautiful moments that have filled our hearts with pure joy or made us lose control with uncontrollable laughter with a friend. We remind ourselves of the good feeling when we can bring some comfort to someone by our actions. We recognize all the good people who have resisted and who are standing up to power. We are especially thankful for all those who listen and care. These are extraordinary gifts.

 

 

CURRIER & IVES

 

MY SHORT LIST

 

I am thankful for family and friends.

I am thankful to those who saved my life last year.

I am thankful to God for my life and purpose.

 

THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

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I give thanks for the polite and respectful folks who will come out to the Dirty Dog for three evenings of Detroit jazz this week. The Dog will be filled with Alvin Waddles’ positive energy spurred on by a room full of appreciative faces and clapping hands, all performed at the appropriate moments. There will be plenty of jazz, good food  and appreciation for it all.

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THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG

 

 

November 21, 23, 24

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ALVIN WADDLES

 

The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will be closed and the music muted on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t  despair, on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Alvin Waddles will bring his magic to the club. Alvin knows how to bring the holiday spirit into a room. Take a break, leave the dishes and leftovers for a moment and come with  friends and family to a warm place where large helpings of smiles come with the music, food and drinks.

 

Everyone at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café wishes all their friends and musical family the warmest of Thanksgivings.

 

John Osler

 

 

   

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November 12, 2018

Fall, Autumn, Winter, Snow, Leaf, Fall Leaves, November

 

GETTING ALONG TOGETHER IN NOVEMBER

 

On these cold November evenings the Dirty Dog must assemble a staff that has rid themselves of any winter blahs. These are the folks who will welcome the guests into  a serene and uplifting experience. This process happens long before any patrons show up. What I have observed is that the management sets the tone, Their good natured work ethic is contagious.

 

I have watched the Dirty Dog Jazz Café staff prepare for an evening’s upbeat event. Tables were prepared while the kitchen started to hum. All went about their tasks with a great deal of independence and purpose. The service at the Dirty Dog is a team effort and so was the preparation. This kind of service is not an easy task, and success is not an  accident.  Gretchen, Tom. André, Willy and all the staff seem to like being around each other. The Dirty Dog is a warm place even before the guests arrive. 

 

 

Here is someone who can say this better than I can. I asked Alexander Zonjic if the staff made any difference in the clubs where  he plays. Here is Alexander’s answer.

 

 

 

HOLDING ON AS WINTER APPROACHES

 

It is good to keep things in our lives. Often I am informed by my wife that there will come a day that we will have to clear out some of the stuff that I have been holding on to. Most of the stuff  has been in the same place for years, waiting quietly for me to either fix and then use them or paint and sell them. This is stuff that isn’t harming anyone and just needs a little love. My basement, attic and garage are a testimony for my love of old friends. Unfortunately they aren’t surviving neglect and time very well. The outdated electronic gear, darkroom equipment, carousel projectors, and flooded basement damaged furniture are destined to soon be by the curb. We will be consolidating our belongings, but some things will be kept, like my wife, good canvases and other familiar, still beautiful and still working stuff.

 

We all do move on eventually for a myriad of reasons. Many of us are looking for a better place. We chase the shiny apple, the romance of travel or a better place to work. Sometimes we make changes to accommodate others or improve our situation. It is  difficult to move on from friendly things and places, and it is even harder to leave friends.

 

 

But it happens even at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. I have watched as indispensable staff members are suddenly missing. Some come back with pictures of their new baby or pictures of their new house in Georgia. Most come back to say hello and express their appreciation for being part of a cohesive team at the Dirty Dog. Seldom does a door slam behind those who leave the place. Fortunately when someone leaves a new face appears  that is just as competent and good natured as the predecessor.How is this possible? I think it is  because of the quality of the Dirty Dog team. There has been a solid group that has been around since this jazz club first opened. They have lurched and stumbled. They have worked hard and laughed a lot. But most importantly they continue to create an atmosphere that is relaxed and welcoming.

 

SOMETIMES MISTAKES HAPPEN

 

Sometimes at the Dirty Dog the enthusiasm for the music and the place leads to unforeseen circumstances. One night when I was photographing  the band from the entryway, I was taken by the smiles and good natured banter going on in a group at the large window table. Unfortunately, in the middle of the set there was an accidental spill. A disaster? Well, no. The music continued, the table cleared, a new tablecloth was placed and then recovered with silverware, glasses and napkins. The music continued and the celebrants never stopped smiling and applauding. This was all done with efficiency and courtesy.

 

service

 

I watched this play out as if it where a non-event. The staff seemed pleased to be of help. No fuss. This isn’t an easy gig, serving food in a small space with grace.

 

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I think I was the only one that noticed the resetting of the table, thanks to the  staff that provides the remarkable service at the Dirty dog Jazz Café.

 

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The Dirty Dog Café has become home for some of the country’s finest jazz artists. Musicians love to play a gig at the club because they get respect. They are surrounded by people who listen and understand. When they play the Dog they generally have the audience’s attention, an audience that is also sometimes being served in the middle of a set with a warm smile.

 

  The Dirty Dog remains a good place to work and to visit. When you visit, let the staff know you value their contribution. Smile back.

 

John Osler

 

COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

November 14, 15

 

CHRIS CODISH

 

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Detroit’s Chris Codish will always be true to the music, which makes him a busy guy. When Chris sits down at a keyboard he will never sacrifice emotion, feeling, expression and interaction. He believes in  making  music that moves people and gives them something they probably didn’t know they needed.“need”

November 16,17

 

ALEXANDER ZONJIC

 

 

Make your reservations early as Alexander has earned a loyal following eager to find out what he is up to. There will be music guaranteed to lift your spirits.

 

 

 

 

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November 6, 2018

american-flag-images-12

 

JAZZ AND DEMOCRACY

 

America’s music, jazz reflects the best principles of our political system when it is working.

 

 

 

PLEASE VOTE!

 

This Tuesday Americans will go to the polls. For those who are hesitating, here is a non partisan reason to vote.

 

Politicians will make an appeal for you to vote in your immediate best interest and probably his/hers. But whenever you are given the chance, vote for those who would make life better for our children, grandchildren and all the future generations. Vote for someone who asks for your help to help your neighbor and community.

Vote for those who will invest in a community that believes it is important to work together to make a safe place where children can thrive, prosper and concentrate on being children. Vote for those who work to protect our children’s futures rather than their own political future.

 

MY TAKE ON JAZZ AND DEMOCRACY

 

I wrote this earlier, but it is still true.

I grew up without television which left our family with a lot of time to sit and stare at each other. We seldom did. We chose to listen to the news as dinner was prepared after which we sat down for our meal and discussed what we heard.

Following dinner we sat around the radio and listened to music. These were the best times. This is maybe why I prefer to listen to music than to the cacophony of the candidates talking about themselves.

 

I have a personal appeal. Vote for those who you think would like jazz music. They recognize democracy when they see it. Vote for a jazz musician.

 

2018 ELECTIONS

Jazz musicians will be missing on the ballot this year. If they were, I do have a long list of candidates who possess all the qualities I would be looking for in a candidate. Some that come immediately to mind are bassist Marion Hayden, Rodney Whitaker, Ralphe Armstrong, Jeff Pedras, Ibrahimm Jones, etc. etc. along with drummers Sean Dobbins, David Taylor, Jeff Canady, Gayelynn McKinney etc., etc.

These are jazz musicians who are the heart of a jazz band. Their role it is to provide a solid base while pushing for better things. A lot of men and women who play jazz  have the character traits that are necessary to bring a community together to produce  glorious results. This isn’t all that easy. Keeping a group focused on a common goal requires hard work, commitment, passion, compassion, the acknowledgement of mistakes and the ability to change course. All of these traits are essential to playing jazz and to maintaining a democracy.

 

IN ADDITION

 

“Jazz is like a musical democracy; when you get on the bandstand to play, it doesn’t matter what color you are; what matters is if you can play—and anyone can speak that language.”  RODNEY WHITAKER

 

LESSONS THAT JAZZ MUSICIANS CAN TEACH POLITICIANS

 

All the candidates could learn something from listening to more jazz and less of the advice from their handlers. What they would hear in their local jazz joint would be a group dedicated to making joyous sounds together. Together they make the group sound its very best. What politicians would find would be that each artist will be  listening to the other and making everyone better. This is democracy at work.

Successful jazz musicians listen.

Jazz musicians lead by example.

They give everybody a chance to shine.

They respect each other.

They judge people only by their ability.

They care about preserving the best parts.

Jazz musicians welcome the new guy.

Jazz musicians have something to say, and it is seldom about themselves.

 

 

RODNEY WHITAKER                                                         DIEGO RIVERA

SEAN DOBBINS

 

WE ALL CAN LEARN FROM THE JAZZ COMMUNITY ABOUT TEACHING DEMOCRACY

I have had the opportunity to be in the room when some of Detroit’s jazz musicians discussed the roles that the different instruments play in a jazz band. They were surrounded by wide eyed young people who listened intently to these important musical heroes as they demonstrated how important democracy was to allow these different elements to coexist with and actually enhance one another.

Sandra Day O’Connor, a Republican and retired Supreme Court Justice, and Wynton Marsalis, an avowed Musician, joined together to create a children’s program called Let Freedom Swing. The program informs the kids about the structure and purpose of our political institutions and how a jazz band relies on the same principles.

Children in the program are asked to see the push and pull between individual rights and, the “greater good” in both democratic society and jazz performance. Activities and discussion questions center on the system of checks and balances in the Constitution, the importance of listening, and the importance of staying  involved in society and music.

One group included Diego Rivera, Sean Dobbins and was led by Rodney Whitaker.  Wynton Marsalis had given Rodney the opportunity to bring the remarkable program LET FREEDOM SWING  to Michigan and to Detroit’s school children where I saw them in action.

 

LET FREEDOM SWING

This week will bring a pause to electioneering. Go to a jazz club and enjoy some democracy in action.

 

John Osler

 

COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE´

 

November 5 – 10

 

 

MICHAEL JELLICK

 

Michael is so gifted. He is also another example of Detroit jazz artists who continue to learn and grow. Each time he comes to the Dirty Dog he brings something new, which he will be sharing with his band mates. Come on out.

 

   

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November 1, 2018

REMEMBERING NOVEMBER

 

 

We used to rake the leaves into a pile, then we jumped into the pile, and then we burned them. The smell of burning leaves was the defining moment that meant frosty short days were coming, and we would be spending more time indoors getting warm. Going to a warm place makes me think of the Dirty Dog and all the good people who help us forget that we will be having plenty of grey and cold days ahead of us. The guy who by example makes life tolerable is Willie Jones, Director of Food, Beverage and All That Jazz at the Dirty Dog. Willy never seems to get down on life, and his upbeat spirit will help us get through Michigan’s fall and winter blues.

 

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Normally we would be reading Willie Jones’ Corner where he tells us tales of the good old days at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, and the plans for the good days coming up at the Dirty Dog. However, Willie is on a deserved vacation. He will be back next week, and with his return we will once again get his take on what is happening. Stay tuned.

 

He has assembled a team ready to follow his example of providing excellent service with grace, and Willie has already put in place a schedule of great jazz artists.

 

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Before Skeeto Valdez sits down at his drums, Willie will be back in his role as announcer with his familiar call ” WELCOME TO THE DIRTY DOG”.

 

John Osler

 

To help you fight the November blahs here is Willie’s lineup for November

 

COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG IN NOVEMBER

 

October 31 – November 1

 

SKEETO VALDEZ

 

 

THE LOVABLE SKEETO VALDEZ WILL BE COMING BACK TO THE DIRTY DOG

 

Skeeto Valdez will return this week leading one of his Fun House Bands. He will bring his unabashed good nature and solid drumming.  Get ready to call the roof repair guys!

 

 

 

November 2,3

 

CAMERON GRAVES

 

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Following Skeeto will be Cameron Graves, who  is part of the genre-blurring Los Angeles collective West Coast Get Down who blend elements of Jazz, Classical, Rock and Hip-Hop. Cameron has recently released his first album for Mack Avenue Records. Planetary Prince. 

 

“Cameron Graves is a musical genius. He has an innovative approach to the piano
that is completely unique. Cameron’s new album ‘Planetary Prince’ is an amazing and
almost unbelievable combination of modal jazz, romantic era European classical music,
and mathematical death metal. A style so cool that it deserves it’s own genre.
Cameron’s music has been inspiring me since I was thirteen years old and it still
does today! I’m so glad he’s sharing it with the world!” – Kamasi Washington

November 7 – November 10

 

 

DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL ALL STARS

 

 

Chris Collins will bring some of Detroit’s best players for four nights. The DJF All Stars will once be again declared winners by the last show on Saturday night along with those lucky enough to in the club

 

 

November 14, 15

 

CHRIS CODISH

 

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Detroit’s Chris Codish will always be true to the music, which makes him a busy guy. When Chris sits down at a keyboard he will never sacrifice emotion, feeling, expression and interaction. He believes in  making  music that moves people and gives them something they probably didn’t know they needed.“need”

 

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November 16,17

 

ALEXANDER ZONJIC

 

 

Make your reservations early as Alexander has earned a loyal following eager to find out what he is up to. There will be music guaranteed to lift your spirits.

 

   

 

November 21, 23, 24

 

ALVIN WADDLES

 

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The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will be closed and the music muted on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t  despair, on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Alvin Waddles will bring his magic to the club. Alvin knows how to bring the holiday spirit into a room. Take a break, leave the dishes and leftovers for a moment and come with  friends and family to a warm place where large helpings of smiles come with the music, food and drinks.

 

 

 

 

 November 28 – December 1

 

AQUANKO

 

 

 

An explosion of spirit will be heard this week at the Dirty Dog. Aquanko, an assembly of some of Detroit’s very best musicians, will celebrate Latin jazz in this intimate club. You are invited to come by, lean back and enjoy some powerful music.

 

     

 

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October 22, 2018

 

FRIENDS

 

The Charles Boles Quartet is a band that has a healthy accumulation of experiences and stories from life and from being jazz musicians. All the members have the perspectives of jazz where one learns from each other’s experiences and enjoy sharing their stories. These are jazz brothers, pals, amigos, cronies and certainly friends. Charles seems to go through life as an active friend collector.

 

Bassist John Dana always arrived on time every Tuesday for the band’s weekly gig at the Dirty Dog. He would haul his bass in his strong hands through the back door, past the green room and leave it on the band stand. He then returned to the green room to join Charles Boles who usually had his head in  his music.  Charles likes to arrive early to the Dirty Dog to organize his music for that evening,  before his band mates arrive. Guitarist Ron English is usually the first to join Charles in the green room at the Dirty dog. Many of the new tunes the group plays will be Ron’s compositions. Ron English would peruse his music and strum some key parts while staying respectfully quiet. That’s what friends do. When he arrived drummer Renell Gonsalves would scan the menu and announce the specials. Before going on they would exchange some familiar banter including some news and political opinions. It was a standard musician ritual, with a little  humor at each other’s expense. But it seemed to me that it was more than that. The four piece jazz band was a band of close friends happy to see each other after a week apart, happy to see they all made it one more time. Happy to get one more gig together.

 

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JOHN DANA   1947-2018

 

The past week brought with it some difficult news. Our friend John Dana passed away leaving a huge hole in our lives.

 

John’s smile will be missing this week in the green room, a smile that assured us that everything was going to be alright. We will miss this sturdy man who was the rock of the Charles Boles Quintet. Bassist John Dana created the solid pocket that his mates depended on. He was the floor that held them up and when they needed it his bass line would lift them up to soar. John was the solid one, the supporting member of the cast until his solos. We then got a taste of his spirit. He sometimes hunched over his bass and became one with it. We knew he was on to something. These were great moments and will not be forgotten.

 

  

JEFF PEDRAZ

 

This week the Charles Boles Quartet gathered in the Dirty Dog green room for their Tuesday night gig. The banter was muted but smiles slowly returned. A new bass was hauled into the club and carried to the band stand by a good friend of the band, Jeff Pedraz.  Jeff  would not be replacing John but simply carrying on his spirit. Throughout the night John’s positive presence could be felt.

 

It has probably always been this way with musicians. They are able to escape into the music and for a moment escape their sorrow.

 

On Tuesday night music once again salved some of the hurt. There is something about playing jazz that is healing. So many times its effects have been studied and documented, but when it happens in front of you like that evening you become a believer.

 

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Jeff Pedraz was a friend of John’s and said this of him: “Rest easy John. I feel fortunate to have known you, your beat, and your truly beautiful soul.”

 

That goes from all of us at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.

 

John Osler

 

THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

The music goes on.

 

October 23-25

 

 

CHARLS BOLES pianist

 

I have often been a bit intimidated by Charles Boles. He towers over me when I am in his presence. He is not imposing physically, but he has an assurance that comes from a lifetime of  experiences and hard work. He is a product of Detroit’s black bottom neighborhood, which was a cauldron of creative jazz artists. Charles has faced down hardships, racism, personal losses and has persevered. He has a powerful inter-strength and has has benefited from a lifetime of playing with great musicians. It shows in his piano playing. He has earned the respect of other musicians and those lucky enough to hear him live in a small club.

 

October 26-27

 

 

RODNEY WHITAKER bassist

 

I have known Rodney Whitaker since he was a young man earnestly starting out on his storied career. There is little that Rodney has set out to do that he hasn’t achieved.  He is someone whose personal fortitude has made all around him better, just ask his students that come out of his program at Michigan State, or better yet ask his band mates when you catch him at the Dirty Dog this week.

 

 

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October 19, 2018

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October 10, 2018

 

IS THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ THE BEST JAZZ CLUB IN THE WORLD?

I will keep asking this question until someone tells me that maybe it isn’t, and why.

I haven’t heard any jazz artists say that this club isn’t one of the very best venues in the world. I think it would be hard to beat the gang at the Dirty Dog and the jazz club they have built.

 

 

I get around Detroit listening to music, and Detroit has good choices of places to hear some jazz. Most of the time I am at the Dirty Dog taking pictures. This has given me a chance to listen to out of town artists like Freda Payne and well traveled local artists like Ralphe Armstrong. Sometimes world travelers like Freda and Ralphe talk about their favorite places. They talk about how they are treated, the respect of the audience, the sound in the room and the prestige of playing a first class club. When all is said and done, they often end up saying one club that makes the effort to accommodate the musician as well as the customer is the place they are both playing this week, the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. At the Dirty Dog they also get a respectful audience and some of the best food in town in their own green room.

 

   

 

The Dirty Dog Jazz Café is an intimate jazz club that serves really good food. It has been promoted mainly through word of mouth and the proclamations of others. The word is out that this place makes an honest effort to give jazz artists and their fans a great place to come together. Friends tell friends, and Detroit has a way of finding out about anything that is a cut above.

 

PRAISE FOR A REALLY GOOD LOCAL JAZZ CLUB

 

Every time Ralphe Armstrong comes to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café he reminds us that we can have something really good in our backyard. Sometimes you have to go away and come back to appreciate what you have.

 

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THE WORLDLY RALPHE ARMSTRONG

I never thought about this idea until one night the well traveled Ralphe Armstrong offhandedly asked the question, “Has anyone been in a better jazz club in their life?”

No one stood up and challenged him. Truthfully, there are few people who would stand up and challenge Ralphe.  Since then, Ralphe rarely appears at the Dirty Dog without making this claim. He is not alone. many artists pause to remind us how remarkable this venue is, and when they do they don’t hold back. I started listening to these artists when they praised the club.

 

 

SOME REASONS THAT THE DIRTY DOG IS SO ADMIRED:

 

RESPECT FOR THE MUSIC

The club is a place that is run almost entirely to honor the music and the musicians.. The Dog has paid attention to those things that allow the music to live. There is a great sound system with a sound engineer on staff. The Dog is a place with an openness to new ideas and encourages musicians to stretch their craft. Jazz is respected at the Dog.

RESPECT FOR THE ARTISTS

What I have heard from visiting artists is that the Dirty Dog is an oasis of respect. Respect pours over musicians from the moment they enter the club. The Dirty Dog is a place where jazz thrives because Gretchen, the management and the audience think that the music deserves to be heard. Finally, where else do artists get four day gigs?

RESPECT FOR THE AUDIENCE

It is an intimate space small enough to offer proximity to the action. Jazz is often a spontaneous, evolving relationship that is sometimes sublimely harmonious, often gleeful and sometimes raucous. Patrons can witness the fleeting glance and the startled smile between players.  Jazz can be at its most engaging when you can experience that process unfolding with your eyes as well as your ears.

 

AND A FEW MORE REASONS THAT CLINCH IT FOR THE DIRTY DOG

 

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SOME REALLY GOOD FOOD AND  A GREAT BAR

The Dog has some really good food and a great bar for the customers

 

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THE GREEN ROOM AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

The same great food and drink is served in a beautiful green room reserved for the artists.

 

BONUS POINTS FOR:

 

Chef Andre Neimanus, Manager / Director of jazz Willie Jones, the world’s most lovable bartender Carl and the amazing staff with all their good cheer and  smiles.

 

EXTRA BONUS POINTS:

 

The classiest proprietor in all of jazzdom, Gretchen Valade.

 

 

THIS WEEK GET OUT AND LISTEN TO SOME LIVE MUSIC

 

Visit the Dirty Dog and see for yourselves how the the artists are treated, the respect of the audience, the sound in the room and the prestige of being in a first class club. When all is said and done, you may add your voice in saying that the one club that makes the effort to accommodate the musician as well as the customer is the Dirty Dog.

 

ALL THIS LEAVES ME WITH THE BURNING QUESTION, COULD THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ POSSIBLY BE “THE BEST JAZZ CLUB IN THE WORLD?” AND WHY NOT?

 

We will need more information to really know the answer, so, please think about it and after you have spent some at the Dog, let us know.

 

John Osler

 

THIS WEEK THE DIRTY DOG WILL PRESENT A PRETTY GOOD CASE THAT IT IS A TRULY GREAT JAZZ CLUB

 

 

October 10, October 11

 

 

RALPHE ARMSTRONG

 

A wondrous spirit, Ralphe Armstrong will bring a good argument that Detroit’s  jazz is on  the rise. Ralphe is a true champion of Detroit and of its greatest export, its music.

 October 12 – October 13

 

 

FREDA PAYNE

 

The multi-talented Freda Payne is best known for her singing career, yet she has also performed in musicals and acted in movies over the years. Freda was born in Detroit, Michigan, Payne developed an appreciation of music at an early age (due to such sultry jazz singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and Billie Holiday). She will bring much needed heat to a Michigan fall.

 

   

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