RESERVATIONS: (313) 882-5299
Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe Logo
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.
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
Archive for
Upbeats With John Osler
June 20, 2018


There must be a new way to look at this


Taking the usual and making it interesting is the artist’s task, adding  a dab of paint or a note in an unexpected place. That something that grabs our attention and makes us take a look is what we call art.


In the glorious month of June everything around us is getting into shape. This will be the form it will take for the summer. We get an explosion of color and eager growth. This is a good time to talk about the fourth stage of the creative process, interpreting.





In my thoughts on the four stages of the creative process the final stage is where the fun lies.




After artists (1) find a subject (2) use all their senses looking at or listening to all the possibilities, (3) edit to clarify, (4) they get to put their stamp on the creation and it becomes uniquely theirs. They can go wild and add dabs of color or twist a phrase. No one can come into a room and hear Louis Armstrong or Frank Sinatra and have to ask who it is.




A Woody Allen or Coen Brothers movie is pretty easy to spot, and a Van Gogh shouts Van Gogh, while a Mark Rothko is sublimely a Rothko.


This act of interpreting is when craft becomes art.


Artists don’t always set out to  insert their individual stamp on their creations. It is just that creating freely is generally allowed, usually encouraged and often liberating.  When you create for yourself you get to do anything you want. My greatest enjoyment comes during this time when I feel free to express my thoughts. I enjoy other folks’ art most when I see what the artist wanted to say in his/her work.






Detroit surrounds you with liberating examples of artists who feel comfortable about revealing themselves.


Detroiter Judy Bowman






Judy Bowman, is a Detroiter. She is as strong, gentle and kind as a person can get. She seldom seems uncomfortable with her life. I have never seen a photo of her when she isn’t smiling. Yet Judy understands all emotions and feels free to show them. She was principal of Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences at the same time she raised her family. All her life Judy has had something to say and on retirement she threw herself completely into her paintings. This was good for us. We get to see how Judy sees. All of Judy’s work has a force and energy that inspires those around her, including her friends in Detroit’s Fine Art Breakfast Club.




The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club is a place where artists gather to encourage and inspire other artists to let fly and show who they are. It works. This ad hoc seat of the pants organization started as a breakfast confab among a few friends who were artists and art patrons. There are now more than 100 friends who meet at a neighborhood restaurant. Everyone gets a chance to be seen and heard, and no two are alike.




France 07 Panosonic 020_edited-1 


When  I am in France I will always spend some time with a friend of many years, Pascal Balay.




Pascal has supported herself and successfully raised three children just with her skill as a potter. Pascal is more than a potter, she is an artist. Her work is uniquely hers and each piece stands on its own as a work of art. Her spirit is included with the purchase of anything she produces.


She was trained in England and thankfully for me can communicate in English about her art. She makes it clear that her art is always going to be her very own art. Even though the potter’s wheel goes round and round in exact circles it is her hands that will create a Pascal Balay piece. There will be no perfect circles nor repetitive color glazes. It will be easy to know whose hands did the work. For Pascal each pot, bowl, plate or platter is a new adventure.


Pascal, like many artists I know, will probably never be wealthy. They will be satisfied with rich lives, lives that they define. The decision not to produce products but to follow your vision has benefits. Among the benefits are the  respect of other artists, users, listeners and viewers. Pascal Balay has always willingly shared her passion with students. Watching her with eager young potters reminds me of Detroit’s master teachers working with up coming jazz artists.




I have spent some time rummaging around her workshop. She has any number of discarded pieces thrown into the bushes and along the studio wall. I would love to own most of her rejects. They are Pascal’s and they are unique, and they are special. Pascal has not had an easy life. Like many artists I know she is quick to smile and quick to show her disapproval when she falls short. I leave Pascal’s studio feeling that this is OK and is all part of the process.


KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA France Spring 2006 -3 071 


Being around highly skilled but wildly creative artists like Judy, the Breakfast Clubbers, Pascal and the jazz musicians at the Dirty Dog I am able to detect a playful attitude, a freedom to express themselves that borders on bravery. They lack a fear of failure. They are very fortunate. We are always very fortunate when we bring these creative people into our lives and get to see what is possible.


There are places where individual expression is not only accepted, but is expected. Fortunately Detroit is one of those places. Every artist who shows up at the Dirty Dog  comes with a style and an attitude that is his/her own. I usually leave the club inspired.


John Osler



JUNE 19 – JUNE 20





Here are the opening  notes from Esperanza’s website that say it all about hearing live jazz.


“Today’s world has a way of teaching us that who we are is not good enough as it is. It tells us that we’re better when we look our best. And that as artists, our work requires polish before it can be seen.


But the truth is, the creations that come from us are at their most powerful, at their most potent, the moment they surface.


Part of the theory comes from the idea that everything we’ve ever seen as people – anything we’ve ever seen, studied, heard, wished, read or thought – has been permanently captured by the mind.   Esperanza will aim to open this cache in her mind, allowing songs, lyrics, music and themes to develop spontaneously from the depths of her imagination and experience.”


Esperanza says, “I foresee that creating before a live audience will add excitement and extra inspiration energy.  Knowing someone is watching and listening to what you’re making seems to conjure up a sort of “can’t fail” energy, the necessity to keep going because it’s live draws up another depth of creative facility that can’t be reached when you know you can try again tomorrow.”

JUNE 21 – JUNE 23





Charles is a treasure that keeps being discovered. Each time we hear Charles play piano jazz, what comes through is a freshness and his joy at having a chance to do what he does.


What a treat to have three days with Charles and his friends.

Share This Article:

June 11, 2018




Separating the good stuff from the stuff that isn’t needed is the hardest task in the creative process, but editing makes things better. Therefore I will try to make this a concise and brief blog.


Ernest Hemingway said “If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them.”





Greening is what editing is often called when writing for a publication called. This phrase originated when editors used a green marker to indicated what copy needed to be cut to fit a column length. It took young writers a while to get used to having to have their beautiful words chopped out of their prose. John McPhee wrote about his experiences with the New Yorker magazine. Here are some of his thoughts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Choosing what to leave out.   By John McPhee


“Writing is selection. Just to start a piece of writing you have to choose one word and only one from more than a million in the language. Now keep going. What is your next word? Your next sentence, paragraph, section, chapter? Your next ball of fact. You select what goes in and you decide what stays out. At base you have only one criterion: If something interests you, it goes in—if not, it stays out. That’s a crude way to assess things, but it’s all you’ve got. Forget market research. Never market-research your writing. Write on subjects in which you have enough interest on your own to see you through all the stops, starts, hesitations, and other impediments along the way.”







Modeling in clay is mostly editing. Sometimes clay is added and then taken away. Sculpting in wood or stone is trickier in that all the editing decisions are final.




Michelangelo: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I’m just taking away what doesn’t belong there.”



One of the hardest tasks a musician, writer or artist has is to edit their ideas, feelings and discoveries. Sometimes this means you have to throw out some beautiful stuff in order to simplify and make your message more easily understood. We can be arrogant souls who believe all our experiences and ideas are important. We go on and on trying to prove  just how interesting we can be. Unfortunately this approach sometimes only shows just how boring we can be. We  can also have an idea that  is strong enough to stand on its own, but gets in the way of telling the story.


Shedding some stuff  will ask your listener or reader to fill in the blanks and will get them more involved. The longer an artist works at his/her craft the better they are at editing.





The great John Singer Sargent would wipe whole canvases away and then start over, away would go all the terrific stuff that was inappropriate to his subject. I would like to someday find his discarded pieces.




I am aware of the art of editing, especially when I hear a master of the piano like Charles Boles play a ballad. When I paint I sometimes get too close to the  canvas and create a great bit of painting but it is out of scale, and out it goes.


In Provence nature and man have seemingly combined to eliminate the ugly and include only things that are sublimely beautiful.




When I spend time in Provence I am barraged by exceptional images. This is a place where hundreds of memorable moments are thrown at you every day. It is a dry climate with a steady stream of cool air that is funneled down through the Rhone valley by the Mistral winds coming from the Alps. When you step out of the sun and into the shade, you feel this cool breeze. There are hills and mountains and flat fields of vines and crops. Villages sit atop high places and cling to sides of cliffs. They perch defiantly against the march of time and tourists.




Charles Mingus once said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity”.



In 1959 Miles Davis put together what is often considered one of the most influential albums ever recorded. Miles Davis did a pretty simple thing when he gathered his band members to record the world’s best selling jazz album, Kind of Blue.


He passed out pieces of paper with a minimum of information. He gave them an outline of each song without the chords spelled out. His goal was to edit out anything that stood in the way of this collection of artists to improvise. He was striving to get the music to its purest state. His pianist Bill Evans described Miles Davis’s schemes “exquisite in their simplicity”. Miles said he wanted  “fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them.”  Miles got his way, we got a brilliantly edited album.and today’s jazz giants continue to build on this legacy. Miles Davis understood the power of simplicity.


“I always listen to what I can leave out”. Miles Davis



Many of the people in my life have shown me the benefit of editing both in their art and their lives. I have come to realize that editing is just another word for choosing.
I have watched jazz artists edit on the fly and as a group. This is a skill that I don’t have. I have the luxury to edit at a later date once I realize how much unnecessary stuff I have cluttering my canvas.  Maybe I am going on a little long about this.
John Osler



June13 – June16






Gene Dunlap will edit out everything except his personal thoughts, his power and his compelling spirit.





Share This Article:

June 4, 2018




Jazz musicians, painters, writers and all artists have their own approach to creating.


Last week I described what my version of the creative process should look like. It starts with getting away from your comfort zone, getting up from the couch and entering the first stage of exploring. Then comes the important part of the process, taking careful note of the things around you, looking, listening and exploring.




We have just returned from a road trip which took us to the mountains of central Pennsylvania. This was once coal country and still looks like it. Like Detroit, the character of the town isn’t evident until you get to know the people.




One of our destinations was  the former coal and railroad town of Shamokin, PA, where my father’s mother and father grew up. When my grandparents  lived there, the town was prosperous and filled with thriving businesses. It is no longer thriving.


Today 7200 still fill the single family homes tucked into a valley that is now surrounded by forests. The coal fields have almost completely given way to nature. The town’s white houses are mostly grey and and show the signs of low cost repair. The front porches are  often used as storage space for neglected couches and tattered red, grey and blue American flags. The average selling price for the good housing stock in this high unemployment town is $38,000.  If you just pass through this community, only viewing the town from inside your car, you will  be left with a sense of hopelessness. A brief glance will leave you with a sense that there couldn’t possibly be much of a  future hanging Shamokin. Yet the place continues to be  occupied by folks pretty happy to be there and some genuinely nice people.






It would be easy to zip past a lot of good stories if you didn’t take the time to stop and spend some time talking to the good people of Shamokin. We had a recommendation to visit a small neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. We spent some time talking and grinning with customers and our waitress, non of whom reflected the grayness of the weather nor the grimness of the town. There was a lot of good nature banter and heaps of comfort food.  I sensed that these were people who knew how to handle hardship and I left with an image that they were going to be all right. That is what I observed, and maybe that is the reason so many residents are still around.



By objective measures, Shamokin (pronounced shuh-MO-kin) is a dying town. The coal and textile industries folded up years ago, unemployment rose, and most of the young people fled. Shamokin started as a mining camp in the early 1800’s and reached its peak population of 21,200 in 1920. The coal mines gave out in the 1930’s, and the textile mills and shoe factories began losing out to foreign mills in the 1970’s. A quarter of the 9,200 residents here are over 65, a demographic fact apparent on any street on any weekday,

Their city is poor: the median household income is $14,500, and 21 percent of its residents live in poverty.This is a place that is now far removed from the prosperity it once enjoyed from the mines and mills.

To visit Shamokin is to be reminded of how the bonds of place and family can sustain a community as it grows old and stares into a bleak future. People dismiss the notion that their city could wither away. They talk about living in homes built by their grandparents and attending churches their families helped build.”


Michael created his piece by first getting off the big road and getting past the messiness of Shamokin. He visited the basements of churches, shared meals and learned that many of the long time residents were ” Doing pretty good here” and “Getting by.”




Everyone has an artist’s ability to see the beautiful and meaningful things around them. We don’t always see the same things when we look closely, and some things are better off being seen at a distance. It is important to see what is in front of you and not what you hoped to see. An artist gets a chance to create what he wants to say later in the process.  At times an artist sees things that are overlooked in a busy life, they get the habit of seeing, listening and discovering. It will all be used. Come and listen to the results at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.

John Osler




June 6 – June 9






Walt Szymanski will bring his artist friends into the Dirty Dog and tell us what he has been observing of late. Don’t be surprised to be surprised.


Share This Article:

May 29, 2018


For a very long time I have been fascinated by the ability of jazz musicians to create new music on the fly and make it look easy.

We all watch as another guy steps up and adds to the first guy’s thoughts. Soon they are joined by others who move the music in a new direction.  Each time I hear Happy Birthday played at the Dirty Dog it is in a new form. No one plays it straight. Every time I have heard it played it is approached like we have never heard it before. Bands that play a club like the Dirty Dog know that they will be free to wander from the conventional play list. They will have a chance to try out a new tune. Last year Ian Finklestein wrote a new tune each night and played it in the very same evening. The bands somehow play each new song as if it were a familiar Cole Porter song.  At times like this the musician’s creative juices are on full display. This is why we chose to listen to live music.




Sometimes it is magical. I think, however, that it is more a result of preparation, and from that preparation comes the confidence to joyfully go down new paths. They have mastered the creative process.



They first found a story they wanted to tell. They then worked to understand the depth of the story. They then constructed the story so that it was clear to them and could be shared.  Then they told it in their own unique voices.


All creative artists suffer through a creative process.

I have observed that poets, writers, musicians, actors, painters and all other artists are seldom conscious of their deliberate creative process. I do think there are definite stages most artists follow.  Over the next few weeks I will try to explore them.





I feel the creative process can be broken down into five stages. We will be constantly exploring, observing, editing our observations, then we will be putting our observations into our own words and finally we will be sharing our creations.




This is where the subject is found. We have to make an effort to get out and experience the things around us.




It is important to clearly see those things that we have found and soak them in.




This is the process when we eliminate and include pieces of information.




This is where we put our personal stamp on our creation.




We bring others into the process to share the results with us.








When I am writing this I will be thinking about the South of France. It has always been a great place to find inspiration, good food, good wine and sometimes a lot of wind.


For twenty some years I have escaped to the South of France in the spring to paint. This is a place that entices you to look around you.


The beginning of a creative act comes from the artist’s personal journey. Everything in ones life prepares that person to make something out of it. We  accumulate piles of subject matter as we go along living our lives. Some people can create from looking out the window of their favorite room if they have a passion for that view. I tend to search outside the familiar.


Detroit is a vibrant town with a vibrant cast of occupants ready to explore, but at the moment I am thinking about the French region, Provence


Through the years we have been lucky to spend time in other artists homes where I have found plenty of inspiration and a base from which to explore





Jacques Shapiro’s magical home.




Jean Castan’s home in le Beaucet



The first stage of exploring is the getting out of your chair stage. This will be the time that I stumble on the the subject or the direction that I will be taking. When I first went to France to paint I had the idea that I would be painting large canvases filled with movement and color.


I hoped to capture the motion of the trees, fields and vines as the strong clear winds of the mistral swept through them. This is something that has always captured my imagination.. The wind turns the leaves over and over as the sunlight comes through them. When we take time to explore our surroundings, the pace of our lives becomes slower. We give more of our time to seeing, smelling and hearing nature all around us.When I start to paint I often stand back and spend a lot of time looking at an empty canvas. I will often stop and wipe out an ugly start. Sometimes I find myself staring out into space. Is this staring at my empty canvas part of my creative process?  I think so.




I don’t imagine that when jazz musicians play that they are finding their inspiration from their immediate surroundings.  They may notice a whiff of the good food on the trays passing in front of the stage or get a glance of the art on the walls. I think it is a good bet that the music reflects their rich life experiences.



Some jazz artists explore their thoughts and some jazz musicians depend on outside stimulus, but the music requires them to be in a  constant stage of exploration. The music is a result of the artists getting out of their comfort zone and discovering the joy of exploration. To fully understand jazz and exploration you just have to listen and explore the possibilities.

John Osler




May 30 – May 31




Why  are there three y’s in Yancyy?  That I don’t know. I do know that he plays with a passion that comes from a common source in Detroit. He got hooked on the saxophone when a preacher in church picked up a saxophone and got his and the congregation’s attention. He thought, “Man, I want some of that.” He has had a chance to get some attention playing with many big name musicians and will get yours when he brings his band into the Dirty Dog’s intimate setting.

June 1 – June 2





One look at Steve Turre’s album covers suggests that he travels in pretty good company.


He toured Ray Charles’ touring band in the early 1970s, then met and played with a long list of legendary jazz artists including Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Woody Shaw, Pharoah Sanders, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Cassandra Wilson, J.J. Johnson, Jon Faddis, Tito Puente, Van Morrison, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Lester Bowie and McCoy Tyner. Steve was also the longtime trombonist in the “Saturday Night Live” band.


He describes his style as, “I like to swing and I like to play the blues. I’m not ashamed to swing and I’m not afraid to swing. I think it’s the foundation of the music and I’m proud of it.”  He will play his original compositions and give hishis own take on jazz standards.





Share This Article:

May 21, 2018



Springtime is like childhood, It takes an empty winter canvas and adds color bit by bit  until we are ready for summer. It is a time of discovery and wonder. Everything around us can seem fresh and new, but seems to pass too quickly.  We are reluctant to see the gently refreshing spring showers end and a little fearful of the summer storms that will follow.


Springtime is the ultimate elixir for our creative souls. Everything gets a fresh start. We have had a long winter to mull things over, and now the longer days will help us get things done. It is also that moment when we have only balmy weather in front of us. Spring is like a jazz set about to take off and soar. It is a chance to be a child again, if only we can remember how that felt. This is probably why we should check up on what our children and jazz artist have to say, and savor the season


Children are our true angels and can teach us a lot about how we can better our life.





Every day is a fresh start”.  – Pablo Picasso


Being Childish


Not all children get a chance to have a carefree childhood. Unfortunately some children are asked to grow up too fast, and some never get a chance to be a child. We need someone to be there to allow a child to explore the world around them. When things go as they are supposed to childhood should be cherished, remembered and when possible replicated.


.A lot of the gifts of childhood are neglected and lost as we grow up. It is never too late to include some springtime in your Autumn years.


Start each day as if it were the first day of spring.




Children seldom carry yesterday’s baggage into a new day. When you are young, every day feels like an eternity and a new day means new opportunities to make new friends, explore new adventures, learn new things.


“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” – L.M. Montgomery.


Live your day with some courage/ Open up to things




Children don’t know enough worry. They see possibilities not dangers. They play, sing, shout and take chances because they are not confined by fears of failure or humiliation.


Children are filled with hope and determination. They haven’t been beaten down,   As adults, we sometimes fear the unknown. We stay safely ensconced in our comfort zone and rarely venture out. Adventure can exhilarate and awakens

our spirit.

Include laughter and joy.





“A day without laughter is a day wasted.” – Charlie Chaplin


Children have the wonderful ability to find joy all around them. They see silliness everywhere.


Stay active



Kids keep moving when they aren’t sleeping, and they sleep well because they keep moving. I can get tired just watching kids. We all know we should join in, if only we could get up from our chairs.


Be open to friendships




Children like the company of other kids. They share a language. Kids haven’t developed filters and disappointments that get in the way of making new friends.


Be proud to be you.




“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron


Sometimes we wallow in our perceived mediocrity. Children accomplish something every day and feel pretty good about it. Left alone they can be a hero in the space they happen to occupy.


Remember that everything around you is worth a look.




“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault


When I walked with my wife  in spring she would point out to me the different flowers growing up through the cracks in the sidewalks, My kids were closer to the cracks and would spend time with all the little things all around them. We unfortunately neglect these joyful discoveries. We need to include these tiny miracles in our days.


Keep creating.



The creative process should remain part of all one’s life. When do we stop seeing creative activities as worthwhile?  When did play and fun become a luxury? I think that adults should take more time for some finger painting. Or take a moment for deep thoughts.




Childlike jazz artists


No one has to tell a jazz musician any of the stuff above. Their seldom forget the fun that childhood and jazz can be.


Jazz is extremely complex, yet when people can’t figure out how jazz works they often use the word “childlike” to describe it. “Blossom Dearie had a unique childlike voice” or when Sting tried to sing jazz he was said to “have adapted to a childlike voice”.  Theolonius Monk was said to use childlike pauses. This is more about editing out the unnecessary, sort of the way children do.


Last week Dave Bennett had his usual lineup of brilliant musicians with him. No one had sheet music in front of them. They were free wheeling, inventive and flawless. After the gig I asked bassist Jeff Pedras my standard question, “If reading music is important and if not, how do they do it?” He explained by pointing at his head and adding, “It is just the way jazz musicians think”.


Austin Hill Shaw of Creativity Matters wrote:


“According to science, humans are born with a brain that isn’t fully formed until well into so-called early adulthood. That means during childhood, especially early childhood, there are parts of our adult brains that aren’t even there yet, specifically the executive functioning parts of the brain. And, through the work of researchers such as Charles Limb, there is a particular part of the executive function, known as the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), a region responsible for impulse control, that doesn’t form until children are nine or ten years old. In Limb’s research of putting jazz musicians into fMRI machines, he has noted that when the musician begins to improvise, the DLPFC turns off, allowing the musician to enter into a flow state, a state of creative outpouring.”




Children below the age of 9 or 10 don’t edit themselves the way adults do, which, as we all know, can have its pluses and minuses. It can be amazing, funny, and inspiring or it can be messy, annoying, and even dangerous. That is why parents get to join in on the fun.




We spend a lot of time making sure our kids get a chance to be kids. We should do the same for ourselves. Jazz musicians have the secret that allows them to let the child inside  take over and finish the tune.


John Osler




May 23 – May 24





duane-parham  walter-duane-parham-ii-264x300


Mid week you will have a chance to be up close with the soulful saxophonist  Duane Parham. He is recognized as an innovator and top performer in Smooth Jazz, R&B and Gospel Music.


In 2012, Duane was nominated and voted “Best Horn Player of the Year,” by the Detroit Black Music Award. Also, in the same month Duane received a testimonial resolution and the Spirit of Detroit Award for his documentary DVD production, “The Unsung Musicians of the Motown Empire.”  It’s all about the legendary horn players that played for Motown and their names were never mentioned


May 25 – May 26






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.





Share This Article:

May 18, 2018




Dave Bennett will bring his band to The Dirty Dog this week.


Before the lights are turned down and the music begins, the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is a beehive of activity. Unseen by those who are settling in at their tables in anticipation of an evening of jazz,food and drink, the restaurant’s back hallway is busy acting as an efficient conduit for all the good things that the guests will be experienced that night.


The amazing thing is that it exists at all. When the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe opened, this part of the Dog was not in the plan. But when this space next door to the club became available, it made possible the vision that the club’s proprietor, Gretchen Valade, had of creating a truly great jazz club. This additional space created enough room to add some of the things that she had envisioned, including comfortable rooms for the musicians, room for a sound engineer, a place for groups seeking privacy, and a special corridor filled with photos of  artists who have played the Dirty Dog.





On the way from the green room to the stage is a narrow hallway that has just enough room for a musician carrying an instrument or a server with a tray.


A lot of the jazz club’s unseen magic happens along this corridor. All the good stuff, except for the customers, comes into the club through the back door and down this hallway. Generally the staff, musicians, food, wine and supplies show up in this hall.



Everyone entering has to get past work tables set up by the kitchen staff and pass by tempting food waiting to be prepared.






A left turn will take you into the kitchen which is a lot more crowded than those open concept kitchens seen on TV.



Fortunately the kitchen size doesn’t mean too much to this stalwart band of cooks as out of this kitchen comes their award winning cuisine.





The door across from the kitchen will take you into the green room which is strictly reserved for the guest musicians. The green room is Gretchen’s tribute to her fellow musicians. it is prove of her deep respect for the artists who play the Dirty Dog. The green room could also be the difference between the Dirty dog and other good jazz clubs. It is one of the best places in town to eat.







Further down the hall you will find a room just for storage of excellent wines and other beverages.

Carl Williams has the key.






All the jazz that you hear so clearly goes from the stage into a small room where it is balanced by the sound engineer and then is sent back to the room.



Jeff sets up the band and then is invisible unless there is a problem. This happened last week when Carmen Lundy brought her bass player and his stand up bass with her from LA. As he was warming up his bass fell apart.



This happened one hour before they were to start their first set. Jeff came to the rescue. He secured a bass , it was tested, played, and kept the musical bottom from falling out all of the weekend. He has a small room, but Jeff has a big role.




Photos of artists who have graced the Dirty Dog are placed along the hallway just in view but out of reach of trays and stand up basses that pass through the corridor.






The board room is open to private parties and groups, and of course it is loaded with art.



This hallway reveals some of what makes the Dirty Dog Jazz Café stand out as a special place to work and a place to play. There is art everywhere in keeping with the character of the place. The Dirty Dog is a good place to work,



and for the the musicians they have provided a place to pause and to be inspired.



There are a lot of good things that happen in this back hallway. Most of us have to be satisfied with the results that emerge into the jazz club. it is all part of a wonderful grand scheme.


John Osler




MAY 16 – MAY 20




Dave has so much talent that he probably could play anywhere in the world, playing any kind of music. Fortunately for his myriad of fans he will return to the Dirty Dog and show his appreciation for the support they have given him. Dave also has a lot of energy which maybe we can bottle and pass out to fans as they leave.





Share This Article:

May 7, 2018




We can be deeply but quietly affected by passion, or get carried away.

but it sure helps to have a little in your life.



If you look around and see a lot of  people going place to place in your neighborhood without smiles on their faces, you probably haven’t had a good arts program in your schools for a while. To test this, go to a place where folks live in a environment where art and good design is all around them. It turns out that being surrounded by beauty is a good catalyst for contentment and being in the company of grinning neighbors.




We are in a time when we are drifting away from the arts in our education, in our lives and in our environment. The results can be seen in my neighborhood. Lovely traditional homes are regularly torn down and replaced by large structures that will later be torn down at the whim of a new owner. Large hunks of the city of Detroit are being purchased and then designed by hedge funds. What is happening now is a result of something that happened years ago. Too many of those who are in charge of our future weren’t influenced by a passionate arts teacher.


To find out how we can create a more vibrant community I think that we must look at what we think is important. Right now it is to get through the day. We are only developing  the skills to survive in a fast moving environment. It is too easy to think that there will be time for beauty and excellence at the end of our day. We are losing the ability to plan ahead.




Most educators agree that having more arts programs in our schools is a bargain. Arts programs are popular with all teachers because they increase the enthusiasm for learning which carries over to other studies.


We can learn a lot about teaching art by looking at how jazz has been taught in Detroit. It all starts by having teachers who are passionate about jazz, and then transfer that passion to the next generation. Learning to play jazz isn’t easy, yet excellence is achieved in part by including the following elements in the process.


Passion / Personal ownership / Getting along / Discipline, hard work, and excellence / Reward





Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible. Passion can best be heard, seen or felt. You know it when you see it.


Passion is that something more than just being interested in something. It can last a lifetime. Passion is hard to quantify, and we don’t have tests to measure it. We can look around and see the results when a passion for the arts is missing and when apathy sets in.




“A great teacher stimulates his student’s creativity enough so that they go out & find the answers themselves.”  Herbie Hancock


Passion in a teacher spreads to their students who in turn get passionate about learning. It ignites their inner curiosity, generates enthusiasm,and it gives students confidence in their own capacity to learn. It brings out the best in students and allows their performances to soar.




“As long as musicians have passion for spontaneity & creating something that’s never been before, Jazz will flourish.”  Charlie Haden


The time I have spent around jazz musicians convinces me that they have a quality and an advantage that we need to inject into all teachers. Fun is injected into the lessons, as jazz is fun to play and learn. Jazz musicians seem to be able to work hard and have fun at the same time. Students see this, and they figure that hard  work and fun just seem to go together. They are likely to carry this thought for the rest of their learning lives.


Passion helps a teacher to persist and not give up when things get tough. Teaching can have setbacks, and teachers do get feisty. The kids know this, but students will also see the passion and stay on track.


A passion for teaching is contagious and now research shows that passionate teachers do get better results.




“I cannot play a lie. I have to believe in what I play or it won’t come out.”  Stan Getz


An honest passion for jazz has kept Detroit one of music’s great citadels of learning. Share the word about Detroit’s joy in teaching and learning art and music.


John Osler




May 9 – May 10






Michael will merge his understanding of the rhythms of West Africa from his travels with the  State Department with his knowledge of jazz he has learned playing with Art Blakey, Pharaoh Sanders and Donald Byrd. A learning experience.


May11 – May12




The Dirty Dog welcomes one of jazz’s treasures, who has been positively compared with Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. This world-renowned vocalist is a noted and prolific composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, and educator.





Share This Article:

May 1, 2018





This past week Sean Dobbins brought some of his jazz students to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café where his Trio was featured. These young musicians from the Spartan Youth Band had a chance to play in one of the best jazz clubs in America. Last week’s blog was a tribute to Sean’s dedication to keeping jazz going forward in Detroit. Wednesday night was the proof. We had a chance to listen and see these accomplished young musicians. What struck me was that they had acquired the same passion, manners and assurance that Sean possesses. They spoke to each other as equals.


Hearing such wonderful music coming from young people raised a nagging question. What can we learn from jazz teachers to help kids master other complicated courses such as science, math, language arts, or whatever?


Maybe it is that jazz-band teachers do one thing right in teaching that other teachers should think more about. They talk to the students as if they will soon be playing in a band with them.


Herbie Hancock – “A great teacher stimulates his student’s creativity enough so that they go out & find the answers themselves.





We all have been asked “who is your favorite teacher?”. We automatically think back to our school days for an answer. Did we stop learning after we left school? Had we learned everything we needed to know? Probably not, we are all students every day of our lives and we go through life surrounded by teachers. Every day I meet people whose lives are both inspiring and instructive, There is so much to be learned, if only I weren’t always in such a hurry. We owe so much to those generous folks who take some time to share their gifts with us, those friends who include the kind act of teaching in their day.  Include these mentors in your list of favorite teachers.





We are all capable of learning and teaching, but some people are better at teaching than others. It is a gift. It is hard work. It takes purpose, patience and sometimes humility.  We forget that this is exactly what we want in a teacher. Someone who is OK with letting us feel that we are capable of surpassing them. That is exactly what I see when I think back to those good teachers who were so patient with me. I see this gift today when I am around artists and musicians.


If we look at a jazz band we will witness teachers learning and learners teaching, all on the fly. Jazz musicians are always ready to learn from each other, probably because they have had teachers and band mates who genuinely have deserved respect. No one can teach  jazz except some one who can play the music. All jazz musicians and most artists, whether they know it or not, are in a continuous learning mode. Every note, brushstroke or word can be a little different and worth thinking about. I remain in awe of both jazz musicians and teachers. They have skills that I lack, but I am learning.






The greatest teacher we have is life itself. Daily we are barraged by sights, sounds, suggestions, silences and urges that give us something to think about. If we are lucky we will have had an art or music teacher in our lives, someone who encouraged us to see and listen to the ordinary stuff around us. They told us that it is OK to be unique. They gave us the assurance that failure is just part of the process.


Jazz and art are individual and personal. It requires time, focus, listening, preparation, repetition, and sometimes a teacher.


This past week I was reminded what a great place Detroit is for learning There were so many remarkably nice people both teaching and learning.







I have an artist friend, Michael Horner who has been pretty good at everything he has tried including being a jazz drummer, boxer and professional golfer. Right now, Michael is on the search for the next best thing in art. He is hard working and open minded and just might find it. Along the way he also was good enough to instruct others as well. He still finds time to help someone just starting out. This week I watched him give a young artist encouragement at the Detroit Artist’s Breakfast Club, which is a casual gathering of all kinds of Detroit artists. Everyone gets a chance to show and discuss their art for a few minutes. It is really is a large support group for artists, a great place to get encouragement and a chance to chat and learn. Earnest artists fill the place every Monday. Friendly hands are helping Detroit to rise one student at a time.




Passion / Personal ownership and accountability / Getting along / High expectations and excellence / Reward


Meanwhile, any chance we get we should honor our teachers. One way is to come out and enjoy the music coming out of the classroom at your local jazz club like the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. Don’t forget to smile at the teacher.


John Osler




May 2 – May 5





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








Share This Article:

April 24, 2018




It always seemed to me that drummers were having all the fun and so had to be hidden.


Behind or to the side of the band we can usually find the drummer. They will be sitting down next to the stand up bass. They can be seen occasionally when the band steps aside, signifying a drum solo is coming, usually to wake up the audience. Drummers deserve some recognition for being really good musicians. In the last couple of months Detroit drummers Jeff Canady, RJ Spangler, Gayelynn McKinney and Sean Dobbins will have gotten some love at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café .  They are gifted musicians, arrangers and band leaders, and as band leaders they will have to stand up and accept our appreciation.







Henry David Thoreau







My father needed a quiet space to concentrate on his work. He was a commercial illustrator and was under pressure to meet deadlines. This need for silence was in conflict with his son who really liked making noise, My heroes were big band drummers, Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.


In an act of kindness I was given a pair of sticks and a rubber covered drum pad. It made as much noise as hitting my pillow. The sticks didn’t bounce like they do when you pound on a drum head. The sticks made a lot more noise when I used the furniture as a drum surface. That was the end of my career as a drummer.


When I had a basement of my own I bought a used drum set. I played the drums but my left hand never knew what my right hand was thinking. My son Bill figured it out. He is a really good drummer, and he continues to get better and better. I still have the drum set and retreat to the basement from time to time for some drum therapy. I will happily remain hidden.


“I’ve wanted to be a drummer since I was about five years old. I used to play on a bath salt container with wires on the bottom, and on a round coffee tin with a loose wire fixed to it to give a snare drum effect. Plus there were always my Mum’s pots and pans. When I was ten, my Mum bought me a snare drum. My Dad bought me my first full drum kit when I was 15. It was almost prehistoric. Most of it was rust.” Billy Cobhan




“A good groove releases adrenaline in your body. You feel uplifted, you feel centered, you feel calm, you feel powerful. You feel that energy. That’s what good drumming is all about”.  Mickey Hart




“I think that any young drummer starting out today should get himself a great teacher and learn all there is to know about the instrument that he wants to play.”  Buddy Rich






Sean Dobbin’s public face is behind his drum kit. Sean is unquestionably a first call drummer when he isn’t leading his own band. He is a powerful figure who visually seems always to just barely restrain himself from beating his drum set into submission. That is not who he is. Sean exemplifies what a jazz player and a great drummer should be. Jazz artists like Sean in the past were portrayed as talented souls hanging out in smoky jazz joints until the sun comes up. Well, times have changed.




When the sun comes up, you would often find Sean involved with getting his three kids organized for school. He and his wife have shared the responsibility of bringing up three bright kids. His oldest daughter is in Sean’s words, “a brainiac”.  She took courses at Eastern Michigan University while still in high school. His youngest daughter is a serious soccer player and pianist..  His son began his days with a lesson from his dad on his drum set. Remember his son’s name, Matthew Dobbins. He is already a great drummer and is a good basketball player.




I have watched Sean Dobbins teach a class. He knows how to keep young minds focused and his lessons interesting. He continues to spread his knowledge of and his passion for jazz throughout  the community


Sean sees need and responds. This is Detroit, and this is what many musicians do.


Sean is on the faculty at the University Of Michigan, Oakland University and Wayne State University. He is also MSU’s Community Music School Director


Sean Dobbins is working with young students in two youth programs. He is Executive Director of the South East Music Academy and Director of Michigan State’s youth jazz program in Detroit.


Sean’s concern about the musicians coming out of our schools has led him to initiate a series of events that he calls THE RISING STARS SERIES. This program will allow the young talent that is coming  out of Detroit to be able to perform at multiple venues around the city.






Sean has for some time led three of Detroit’s most authentic jazz groups. All the bands have been formed out of his deep regard for jazz history. Sean follows his calling to keep jazz alive by honoring Detroit’s rich heritage.


The Modern Jazz Messengers


The Modern Jazz Messengers have been a mainstay in Detroit’s jazz world for over ten years. Like the band’s inspiration Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Dobbins is big on rotating the members and keeping the band’s front line youthful and hard swinging. The Modern Jazz Messengers songbook is heavy on hard-bop and post-bop staples. Art Blakey, the original Sean Dobbins, who led the original Messengers would be proud to see where Sean has taken the music.


Sean Dobbins Organ Quartet


The Sean Dobbins Organ Quartet is a

homage to an instrument that came out of the churches when the Hammond Corp. made organs portable. It became jazz’s most used keyboard instrument after the piano.


The Sean Dobbins Trio


This week he will bring the Sean Dobbins Trio to the Dirty Dog. He will be joined by Corey Kendirck on piano and Bob Bickly on Bass.





“The drummer is the key—the heartbeat of jazz”


Jo Jones


“Jazz is a heartbeat—­its heartbeat is yours. You will tell me about its perspectives when you get ready.”


Langston Hughes


You have to have a heart before you can have a heartbeat. Sean Dobbins has a big heart and a big beat. Sean is the whole package.


John Osler










Share This Article:

April 16, 2018




Last week Rodney Whitaker played bass with Sasha Vasandani at the Dirty dog. Rodney’s wife Cookie was also in the house. I spent some time talking to both of them. They talked proudly of their seven children. This is not the image of a jazz musician that I remember seeing in the movies. It is, however, a pretty common approach to life with Detroit jazz musicians, especially artists who could be successful anywhere in the world but choose to stay put in Detroit. Detroit is known to be a place where you can hang with other great players and also comfortably raise a family.




This week Gayelynn McKinney’s family and friends will gather at  the Dirty Dog Jazz Café to demonstrate an amazing musical feat. A bunch of family members will get along for eight shows and show us what a good time a family of musicians can have. It must be the music. Some evening see how long you can keep a subject going around the dinner table without any texting. Gayelynn will gather McKinfolk together to honor a family tradition of encouraging one another. They will  play great music and demonstrate  good family behavior. In the history of jazz, there have been a number of prominent musical families and near the top would be the McKinney family.





My favorite definition of the word family goes like thisA group of people, usually of the same blood (but they do not have to be), who genuinely love, trust, care about, and look out for each other”. They can be easily spotted by their quick-to-smile demeanor when in each other’s company.





With the McKinFolk Project, which pays tribute to her father Harold McKinney’s legacy, Gayelynn is completing an idea that Harold started. This week it will be an extended family that will be continuing to honor the spirit of this remarkable man. Gayelynn will be bringing out a  new record soon on the Detroit Music Factory label called McKinFolk: The New Beginning

Harold was an important pianist, mentor, educator, composer, publisher and friend to Detroit jazz. Harold has been heralded aplenty. Probably his greatest legacy will be as a friend and father.

Gayelynn’s mother Gwendolyn was the perfect compliment to Harold. She also was  a teacher and mentor. She was a renowned opera singer and vocal teacher who gave Gayelynn her first drumsticks at the age of 2. All in all this was a magical environment to have been exposed to and how wonderful it is that we can still hear the music that was churning in that home.

Gayelynn’s childhood experience was revealed in this interview with Ana Gavrilovska in the Metro Times.


MT: Your father was heavily involved in Tribe, for one, and music all his life. What was it like growing up in that environment?




McKinney: I feel really blessed, because both of my parents were musicians. My mother was a part of Tribe, too. Every morning I woke up to music. It was a mixture of music too, because my father would be wailing away, working on a composition, so I’d hear him playing this beautiful jazz piano, and my mother, who had started out as an opera singer, would be in the kitchen singing songs from Carmen. I would wake up to this every morning, and after breakfast, Dad and I would have what we called philosophical conversations. He did this with me from the time I was at least 9.


Growing up in that environment, Wendell Harrison and Marcus Belgrave and George Davidson, all those guys, were rehearsing at Dad’s house almost every day, so my house was filled with music from sunup to sundown. They would come over and rehearse, and they were very passionate about the music. Especially Dad and Marcus, they would get into some heated conversations about the music, and then after they would get all of that out of their systems, they would play, and it would just be fantastic.


It was a musical playground for me, running from one place to the other, looking at music and playing drums. Ed Gooch used to bring his trombone over to the house so I could play with it while they rehearsed, so I was in the basement playing his trombone. I got the chance to play a lot of different instruments growing up. It was great, a wonderful experience.


‘As soon as I can remember I was tapping and beating on things. My mother bought me a drum set and said, “Here honey, beat on these.”’

Dad had all these drummers coming through the house, but one in particular had a big influence on my playing, along with George. He came into the house one day, and I didn’t recognize him. I knew all the drummers that came through the house and this guy I didn’t know. He was tall and had this wonderful stick bag in his hand. I thought, ‘Oh, he’s a drummer.’ I went over and followed behind him. He sat down, threw the stick bag on the table, opened it up, and laid it out. He had a pair of red drumsticks, like a natural wood reddish color, that fascinated me. I was looking at those sticks, and I looked at him, and I sat really close next to him. I tapped him on his shoulder and I said, “Hi.” He looked at me but didn’t say anything, he just smiled. I said, “Can I have those sticks?” [Laughs.] He said, “You want my sticks?” I said, “Yes. Can I have those?” He said, “What are you gonna do with my sticks?” I said, “I’m going to play with them.” He said, “Hm. Alright. I’ll tell you what, I want you to listen to me first.” I said, “OK.” So he said to me, “I want you to remember the melodies of every song.”




I looked at him, my face scrunched up, and I said, “Why?” He said, “Because if you remember the melodies, people will know where you are when you solo.” I was mulling that over in my head, and there was a moment of silence, and then I tapped him on the shoulder and said, “Hey, can I have those sticks?” [Laughs.] And he said, “Go on, girl — take these sticks and go!”


Fast forward 10 years later, I’m starting to check out the players and who’s doing what. My friend and I are sitting there looking through this jazz book, and we get to this page and I stop and say, “Oh wow, that’s the guy!” My friend said, “What guy?” I said, “That’s the guy that gave me those drumsticks!” My friend said, “Get out of here, that’s not the guy.” I said, “Seriously. When I was 10 years old, he gave me some drumsticks.” It turned out that that guy was Max Roach.




Max Roach gave me a pair of sticks and told me the most valuable information I could have ever received to shape my playing. When Straight Ahead got signed to Atlantic Records, we ended up opening for him at the Fillmore, when it used to be the State Theater. At the sound check, I walked over to him, and by now it must have been 12 or 13 years later, but I walked up to him and said, “I don’t know if you’ll remember me,” and he said, “Oh, I know who you are.” I said, “Really?” He said, “Oh yeah. You’re that little girl that took my drumsticks.”


I met people and didn’t realize who they were until much later. Herbie Hancock [is another person] I met and didn’t realize [who he was] until I was older. It was quite an environment to grow up in.




It seems appropriate that the family at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café will be the site for this special family gathering. Welcome to the family.


John Osler



April 18 – April 21





Share This Article:

Visit the Dirty Dog Jazz Channel on YouTube to view our collection of videos. Watch Now
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
      This is part one of our profile of great new summer albums that may be of inter [..]
  There must be a new way to look at this   Taking the usual and making it interesting is [..]
  The 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival’s Resident Ensemble featuring Bassist Esperanza Spalding [..]
Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.
Randy Napoleon
STARTS: Wed, June 27 2018
ENDS: Sat, June 30 2018
Closed For The 4th of July
STARTS: Tue, July 03 2018
ENDS: Sat, July 07 2018
Dwight Adams
STARTS: Wed, July 11 2018
ENDS: Sat, July 14 2018
Alvin Waddles
STARTS: Wed, July 18 2018
ENDS: Sat, July 21 2018
The Four Freshmen
STARTS: Wed, July 25 2018
ENDS: Sat, July 28 2018
Tad Weed Trio
STARTS: Wed, August 01 2018
ENDS: Sat, August 04 2018