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Opened in 2008, The Dirty Dog is one of the premiere destinations in the United States for world class Jazz and cuisine. It combines the charm of an English-style pub with intimacy and meticulous attention to detail and hospitality.
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
April 6, 2018




As we mentioned in last week’s Jazz Notes, drummers and their bands are taking the Dirty Dog stage from March 28 to April 28. This includes Jeff Canady leading his own group and also accompanying Kimmie Horn April 4-8. Gayelynn McKinney presents her “McKinfolk” project April 18-21 and Sean Dobbins brings in his trio April 25-28.



With our focus on drummers this month, I thought it would be a good idea to write about drums and percussion in general this week and the important role they have played in Jazz.



Rhythm is inherent in music containing two or more notes because music is “sound in motion”.  It is not stationary. It’s always moving. Drums and percussion are rhythmic instruments that provide the pulse in the music. They have been an important element in Jazz and the use of syncopated “off beat” rhythms helped Jazz to “swing” and  distinguishing it from other genres early on.



Rhythmic patterns, both simple and elaborate are essential defining element in Jazz.  Cornetist Charles “Buddy” Bolden (1877-1931) was one of the early progenitors of Jazz and a major figure in the development of Ragtime and other early Jazz forms. He is said to be one of the first musicians to introduce “off-beat” syncopated rhythms in Jazz around 1900 which deviated from the standard on-the-beat march patterns. He also introduced the Latin habanera rhythm which was also a departure from the straight march-type figures.






Over the years, Jazz has incorporated lots of rhythmic influences from both ancient and modern cultures all over the world. This is not only evident in the drum patterns but the use of drums and percussion instruments from these cultures as well. Quite often these patterns are derived from centuries-old dance forms.



They follow Jazz’s evolution through its use of drums and percussion in corresponding rhythmic styles in everything from Ragtime and Dixieland of the early 20th century up through the Swing, Bebop, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Bossa Nova, Free and experimental Jazz, Fusion/Funk,  and all of the other styles Jazz has developed in the last 100+ years. Each style had its own rhythmic, and therefore, drumming and percussion style and corresponding instrumentation.


Pontiac’s own Elvin Jones (1927-2004) is considered one of the most original and influential Jazz drummers. He played with some of the most significant artists in modern Jazz including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell and many others. Photo:



Other factors also define these styles such as compositional structure, but rhythms seem to top the list with their prominence and immediate and physical effect on the listener- especially in Jazz.



Some believe say it’s the visceral effect of rhythm we feel first especially when its prominent and played on percussive instruments.Rhythms in other genres, such as some Classical and American folk music, support the melodic or harmonic elements but are less prominent and not be heard “up front” as they can be in Jazz.



In the beginning Jazz drumming reflected the early places the music got it start such as New Orleans and other American cities, as well as influences from Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, elsewhere.



Drums and percussion have been essential in Jazz instrumentation since the very beginning and continue to play an important role in the music as Jazz continues to absorb new stylistic trends such as Hip Hop, electronic and World Music to name a few of the current influences.






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





Some believe say it’s the visceral effect of rhythm we feel first especially when its prominent and played on percussive instruments.



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