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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.
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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.
November 12, 2019

JAZZ NOTES: JAZZ AND MOTOWN

 

The Detroit Free Press wrote last year that “Motown celebrated its diamond anniversary, marking 60 years since Berry Gordy Jr. founded the company that became a musical, cultural and commercial force inextricably linked to the city, right down to the name”.

BerryGordy:DetroitFreePress

As we continue to celebrate Motown’s anniversary we reflect upon the close relationship between Motown and Jazz, which included everything from it’s musical elements and structure to some of the actual musicians themselves.

 

Detroit was ready for the Motown sound because of the nature of our music community at that time which was steeped in the blues, gospel R&B and Jazz.

 

It coincided with the post-war baby boom genres developing in late 40’s to late 60’s.  These  provided a perfect creative platform for the Motown sound.

 

So many of the backing or session musicians on the Motown hits were also Jazz musicians with some very active in Detroit’s Jazz community.   Many others also came from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – especially the string sections.

 

As for Jazz, Motown drew on Detroit’s thriving Jazz scene and hired some of our most well-known and respected artists to play as studio musicians including with the famous Motown back-up group the “The Funk Brothers”.  This partnership included other live and studio performance opportunities including those who were touring with Motown artists worldwide.

 

Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were two major Jazz fans and players who were known for infusing their music with lots of Jazz elements, and artists.   Marvin Gaye also considered being a full-time Jazz artist as he was known for being an excellent Jazz composer and arranger who also wrote film soundtracks filled with Jazz such as for the early 1970’s award-winning film “Trouble Man”.

 

MarvinGayeTroubleMan

 

Most of the artists in the famous Motown back-up group, “The Funk Brothers” were well known Jazz artists.

 

These included such Detroit Jazz luminaries as:

 

Trumpeters Marcus Belgrave and Michael Henderson

 

Drummers William “Benny” Benjamin and Richard “Pistol” Allen

 

Pianists Johnny Griffith and Earl Van Dyke

 

Vibraphonists Jack Brokensha and Johnny Trudell (who also played trumpet)

 

Trombonists George Bohanon and Jimmy Wilkins

 

Saxophonists Ernie Rodgers, Larry Nozero, Thomas “Beans” Bowles

 

Guitarists Dennis Coffey, Joe Messina, and Ron English

 

Percussionist Eddie “Bongo” Brown and countless others over the years.

 

 

Other successful Detroit record labels drew on our Jazz, Blues and Soul heritage. One such label was the world renowned  STRATA records  which was an artist run label, publisher and performance space from the late 1960’s and 1970’s. It included the band Tribe (1976) with members of Griot Galaxy, Marcus Belgrave, Phil Ranelin, Kenny Cox, Ron English, George Davidson and others.  We will write about Strata Records in a future “Jazz Notes” so please stay tuned.

 

 

Detroit’s legendary MOTOWN RECORDS  became one of the most successful genres and sounds in contemporary music worldwide and  sold more records than the Beatles!

 

 

 

Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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