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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.
September 18, 2019



An appreciative audience at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe  /  Photo by John Osler


Welcome to part six of our continuing series on the “art of listening to Jazz”.    Jazz is attracting new fans every day. It’s one of the few genres that keeps growing and  has stayed in “style”  for several decades,  since the late 19th century!



Listening to Jazz can be quite different than most other styles of music. The music is usually more complex. There’s so much to listen for and like other art forms, the more you understand its history, content and structure, the more there is to appreciate. On the other hand, all that really matters is if you like it or not – if it “inspires” you in some way, or you feel emotionally moved by it.



Over the years, many people have told me they’d like to listen to more Jazz but they don’t “understand it”.  Others said they feel awkward in live Jazz situations because they don’t know “how to act” or when to applaud a musicians’ solos.




AppreciativeDetroitJazzFestivalAudience for StanleyClarek2019: DetoitNews


An attentive audience enjoying the music of  bassist Stanley Clarke  and his band at the 2019 Detroit Jazz Festival

photo: Detroit News



As we listen to Jazz it’s helpful to listen carefully to its compositional elements such as its complex harmonies, intricate rhythms, creative arrangements and other elements. And, we also become aware of its spontaneous nature, and use of improvisation by skilled musicians, which is why Jazz is so exciting, especially when performed live.



This is because live Jazz really encourages the audience to be attentive and concentrate on what they’re hearing to fully appreciate what’s being created in the moment. It’s the spontaneity that keeps Jazz fresh and why no two performances of the same piece are alike.



Although Jazz is very “free” and encourages individual interpretation, the music for the most part is built upon the following basic structure. Most pieces start with an introduction, followed by the theme or “head”. Then each musician will take turns with their solos, reinterpreting the melody, harmonies and rhythms of the theme.



Sometimes just the “melodic” instruments, such as the saxophone, trumpet, flute, etc., will solo. Other times they’ll include the rhythm section, comprised of the piano/keyboards, bass and drums/percussion. After this “developmental” section of solos, the theme or “head” returns to close out the piece.



Saxophonist Diego Rivera and bassist Rodney Whitaker trading solos at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. Mr. Rivera is performing with his group at the Dirty Dog October 30-November 2. For more information go to the website or call 313-882-5299.






Photo by John Osler



It is in the solos where we hear the most significant artistry in Jazz and that is the use of improvisation. No two solos are identical because the musicians are composing “on the spot”, usually staying true to and playing off of the basic melodic, harmonic and rhythmic structure of the piece.



This is why it’s important to be an attentive listener. If not, you miss the true essence of the music. This is also why there is a certain code of listening behavior with live Jazz.



As we mentioned earlier, listeners show appreciation and feel free to applaud after each solo within the piece itself. They generally keep their conversations to a minimum out of respect for other audience members and for the musicians themselves who are spontaneously playing, composing and communicating with each other and with the audience.



Musicians have often said how much they love playing at the Dirty Dog. They say it’s because it’s “all about the music”. It respects the art of listening to Jazz by creating the perfect listening environment. Listeners keep their conversations to a minimum much like they would in a Classical music setting. It’s all about concentrating on the music itself, while appreciating the art of the performance.




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.






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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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Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.