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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.
THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE BLOG
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
November 21, 2017

 

 

 

 

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, guaranteeing us a four day holiday. One smart cookie. 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. Two years later the Calvinists chose not share their food. 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 Friday.

 

 

 

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 are standing up to power and 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.

I am thankful to God for my life and purpose.

 

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THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

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 22, 24, 25

 

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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 20, 2017

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Detroit based Mack Avenue Records was nominated Jazz Label of the Year for 2017 by Jazz Week magazine. They were in good company as other nominees included Blue Note, Smoke Sessions High Note/Savant among others. Photo above features Mack Avenue’s Chair, Gretchen Valade and CEO, Tom Robinson at the Detroit Jazz Festival.

 

 

The “Label of the Year” category recognizes the overall quality of releases, production values, and artist support for the year’s outstanding record label.

 

 

Mack Avenue Records was founded in 1998 by entrepreneur and cultural philanthropist Gretchen Carhartt Valade, chair of Carhartt and lifelong Jazz fan and musician.  She and Carhartt have also been generous sponsors of the Detroit Jazz Festival, which was saved by a $15 million donation from Ms. Valade in 2006.

 

 

Detroit has had no shortage of successful and/or historically significant record labels over the years including Motown, the Blues based labels Fortune Records, Big Star, and Joe Von Battle’s JVB records and countless others including Jack White’s new Third Man records.

 

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There are also specialty labels under the Mack Avenue umbrella. Detroit Music Factory promotes Detroit’s fervent music scene with local artists such as Gayelynn McKinney with her acclaimed “McKinfolk” project, a tribute to her musical family. The label’s slogan is “Bringing Detroit Jazz to a World of New Fans”. Other major Detroit talent signed to the label includes Ralph Armstrong, Scott Gwinnell, Charles Boles, R.J. Spangler’s Planet D Nonet, Gary Schunk, Sean Dobbins, and De’Sean Jones.

 

 

The highly celebrated Mack Avenue label is committed to showcasing a diverse roster of Jazz and related styles performed by veteran artists and newer emerging artists as well. These include legendary, world-renowned, artists such as Oscar Peterson, Gary Burton, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Garrett, the Count Basie Orchestra, Gerald Wilson, Danilo Perez, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Rodney Whitaker and others.

 

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Grammy Award winning vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant

 

 

The label is equally dedicated to promoting newer artists creating new sounds in the idiom and who are receiving international recognition for keeping the Jazz idiom fresh and current. These include Cameron Graves, Julian Lage, Nels Cline, Dave Bennett, and Cyrille Aimee, and many others.

 

 

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A list of current new releases from the Mack Avenue family includes such albums as:

 

Cecile McLorin Salvant / “Dreams and Daggers”

Cameron Graves / “Planetary Prince”

Christian McBride / “Big Band Bringin’ It”

 

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John Beasley/ “Monk’Estra, Vol. 2”

Dave Bennett / “Blood Moon”

 

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Guitarist/Composer Julian Lage

 

Julian Lage / “Modern Lore” ( scheduled for release in February 2018)

 

For more information on Mack Avenue artists and new releases go to MackAvenueRecords.com

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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November 14, 2017

FAME AND GREATNESS

 

Getting a lot of attention and doing great things are different objectives. Greatness takes some time to be recognized and rewarded. It often remains hidden until we spend some time to uncover it.

 

TO WITNESS GREATNESS, TAKE A MOMENT AND WATCH THIS PREVIEW VIDEO OF JOHN SCHEINFELD’S BRILLIANT DOCUMENTARY, CHASING JOHN COLTRANE

 

 

 

THE GREAT JOHN COLTRANE

 

A documentary of John Coltrane’s life and music was shown this past week on PBS’s The Independent Lens. It was well made, and like most things worth watching it wasn’t shown until past my bedtime. Thankfully we can now record anything using the cable box that sits beside the TV. This week I have played it over and over while I painted in my garage. I have been listening to it more than I have been watching it. The documentary is well constructed and is a purposeful piece of work. It introduces us to the man and his unique but too short journey.  It has inspired me to one more time try to figure out why he is so special.

 

 

I am probably the least qualified person to write about John Coltrane. From time to time I  have gone to the library and taken out his album, “A Love Supreme”. I have never bought the CD nor really understood the music. I have never learned to read music and can’t carry a tune. John Coltrane really knew music and explored all the possibilities. Not realizing the intricacies and freshness of his playing, I found myself wishing that he would end his solos and play something I recognized. Some critics also thought his selections were too long and thus boring, but his fellow jazz musicians knew that “you have to listen carefully to Trane, get involved with him”.  I was missing something and the film helped explain John Coltrane to me.

 

 

Over 200 people were interviewed for the documentary and no one had a negative thought about John Coltrane. He was universally well liked. As fierce as he was as a jazz man, John Coltrane was privately a rather quiet and humble man, He was always described as spiritual. He had no sense of self promotion. No one thought he was perfect. He did screw up, he would triumph, and then he would  abruptly change directions. He sometimes went too fast and left his friends and band mates behind, but he always identified his faults and self corrected. He was addicted to heroin and quit on his own. His friends described him as “almost introspective and deeply religious. “.  Coltrane studied all music and all religions and turned his research into art. He often studied Eastern music which is often apparent in his compositions. The one constant was that he wanted his music to be a force for good. He said: ” I know that there are bad forces, forces that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the opposite force. I want to be the force which is truly for good.” This I realize is what made him great.

 

  

 

 

I often listen to jazz musicians talking about other musicians like chefs talking about a favorite dessert, You would hear things like :”It has the right sweetness”, ” What was that in the middle that brought out the other flavors?” and “It was very complex.” As a serious cookie consumer I only know when the cookie  has chocolate or vanilla in it because I like chocolate and vanilla. I end up listening to a lot of chocolate and vanilla music.

 

Most musicians revere John Coltrane exactly because he was never vanilla. You had to try a second slice in order to savor all the delights that his music offered. I will never have the same appreciation for Coltrane’s music as a musician would. Part of his personal pilgrimage was to find new paths for future musicians to follow. When he  first heard Charlie Parker he felt freed from both technical and emotional restraints. He then used this freedom to expand the range that fellow musicians could roam. I will never share a jazz artist’s understanding of the complexities of his playing. I am learning to just close my eyes and go on an emotional journey with him.

 

Like most great artists John Coltrane dove deep into his art. This can be a lonely place. He often found a truth through his preoccupations with music and God. He would then rush to share his truths using his skills as a musician. He thought he was a rocket ship trying to break free of gravity. Not every one wanted to go with him to outer space. I am now ready to make the journey.

 

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

 

 

GETTING TO KNOW THE ARTIST MAKES A DIFFERENCE

 

John Coltrane’s music reflected what was going on in his life. He always had to know more about what he didn’t know. When he shared his process of discovery, critics were quick to reject his findings. They heard honking and bleating and angry barking. Later many discovered that his  process was worth listening to. Nat Hentoff the jazz critic said, “He was instrumental in freeing the concept of what a jazz performance is.”

 

There is so much that we don’t know. What some heard  as a scream of confusion was one of the greatest examples of an improviser extrapolating his passion on the fly. All my musician friends got John Coltrane. They knew he was important. They knew why he was important because they knew music and knew John Coltrane. I think I am getting to know John Coltrane, and I know that I will soon  purchase the CD “A Love Supreme,”

 

I always did hear his emotion and the force of his person. He seemed to have an urgency to tell me something, but I just didn’t have the skill to hear what he was saying, probably because I had never seen John Coltrane perform live. So get out and hear some live music and look at some real art.

 

I am taking to heart what Coltrane replied when asked why he played so long,  “Because I can’t find a good place to stop”.

 

The End

 

John Osler

 

 

THERE WILL BE LIVE MUSIC AT THE DIRTY DOG THIS WEEK

 

November 15 – November 16

 

 

EMMA LEE ABOUKASM

 

Emma will be bringing her perspectives on where jazz is going to the Dirty Dog this week. Her solid grounding in the music has brought her international attention and awards. She will gather a great band around her for this not to be missed two day appearance.

 

November 17 – November 18

 

 

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 13, 2017

DizBirdMilesDiscogs:com

 

 

Jazz Notes’s on-going centennial series celebrates the 100th birthday of some of the most significant musicians and style makers in Jazz. It was approximately 100 years ago that Jazz was starting to come into its own with new artists being born who went on to make their mark on the Jazz idiom. Earlier this year we paid tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, Mongo Santamaria, and Thelonious Monk who were all born in 1917.

 

 

This week we honor the many talents of trumpeter, composer, style-maker, and bandleader, John Birks Gillespie, otherwise known as Dizzy Gillespie, (October 21, 1917- January 6, 1993). I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview Dizzy twice during my years on Detroit Public Radio.

 

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Mr. Gillespie’s contributions were numerous. He is not only known as one of the greatest Jazz trumpeters of all time, he is also credited with being a progenitor of modern Jazz. This includes being one of the creators of Bebop and Latin Jazz – two very popular and influential subgenres that are still defining the Jazz sound to this day.

 

 

Dizzy ushered in the modern Jazz era the sounds of Bebop in the 1940’s with the likes of Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Kenny Clarke and others. The style was very sophisticated “art music” that encouraged musicians to play outside the mainstream by using non-traditional rhythmic and harmonic elements – considered avant-garde in nature.

 

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Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie and Gerald Wilson at the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival

 

 

Bebop was very challenging to play with its breakneck tempos and chord progressions pushing artists into virtuosic territory. Bebop was designed for improvisation and Gillespie was considered one of the best improvisers in Jazz. He embodied the bebop style not only in his intricate improvisations on trumpet and as an amazing scat singer but also in his personal style that included his signature beret and horn-rimmed glasses.

 

 

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Dizzy is also recognized as playing a major role in the founding and development of Latin or Afro-Cuban Jazz in the late 1940’s. This new movement infused traditional Afro-Cuban musical elements such as rhythms and instrumentation into Jazz, including Bebop. Dizzy met Cuban-Jazz percussionist Chano Pozo in 1947 through trumpeter Mario Bauza.

 

 

Pozo soon became the conga player in Dizzy’s band bringing authenticity to the new Afro-Cuban Jazz sounds that were becoming very popular.  As a bandleader and mentor Dizzy Gillespie nurtured musicians who were attracted to Bebop and Afro-Cuban Jazz, but needed direction and playing opportunities.

 

 

Dizzy Gillespie was a great teacher and had a major influence on the careers of other musicians who he took under his wing. This was a common trait of band leaders who took their jobs seriously. They led the band in more ways that just conducting. Dizzy is also known for writing charts that are have become standard arrangements still being used by bands all over the world.

 

 

Artists he mentored and influenced include some of Jazz’s most admired musicians such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Arturo Sandoval and countless others including major contemporary artists such as Danilo Perez, Chucho Valdez, Roy Hargrove and David Sanchez.

 

 

 

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2Tt6W-TxXs

 

Dizzy Gillespie and His Big Band featuring Chano Pozo 1947

 

 

 

 

 

 

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November 2, 2017

YJP-DJF Excnange Project

 

The Detroit Festival Allstars, Rising Stars and Detroit Legends performing in Japan this fall.

 

L-R: Michael Malis, Chris Collins, Marion Hayden, Rafael Statin, Vincent Chandler, and David Taylor

 

 

 

The highly acclaimed Detroit Jazz Festival All-Stars, Rising Stars and Detroit Legends have a new multi-generational lineup of artists who will be making their debut Nov. 8-11 at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe.  They’re all warmed up as they’re coming off their recent performances in Japan at the Yokohama Jazz Festival and several club dates there as well.

 

 

 

YJP-DJF Excnange Project

 

Rafael Statin

 

 

Led by woodwinds player/composer Chris Collins, who’s also President and Artistic Director of the Detroit Jazz Festival, the band now consists of such impressive Detroit artists as Rafael Statin, powerful saxophonist/multi-woodwinds playing throughout the world, Vincent Chandler, a dynamic, in-demand player on trombone, Michael Malis, talented composer and pianist, Marion Hayden, internationally renowned Detroit Jazz bassist, and David Taylor, prolific and multi-talented Detroit artist on drums.

 

 

YJP-DJF Excnange Project

 

David Taylor

 

These artists are no strangers to the Detroit Jazz community as they represent a diverse blend of generations, musical backgrounds and styles. This mix of legendary Detroit luminaries and rising stars will be on stage performing original works reflecting the mentor-disciple relationships that are an integral part the Detroit Jazz Festival’s tradition.

 

 

YJP-DJF Excnange Project

 

Marion Hayden

 

 

 

Each October, as part of an ongoing cultural exchange, the Detroit Jazz Festival assembles an all-star ensemble to perform Detroit based Jazz at the Yokohama Jazz Festival and at various Jazz clubs in Japan.  This cultural exchange brings musicians together from both countries.

 

 

YJP-DJF Excnange Project

 

Chris Collins

 

While in Japan, Chris Collins, who also directs the Jazz Studies program at Wayne State University, selects a Japanese Jazz ensemble from the finalists of the Grand Prix of Yokohama Jazz Competition to travel to Detroit the following year and perform at the Detroit Jazz Festival.

 

 

YJP-DJF Excnange Project

 

Vincent Chandler

 

 

In 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival’s audience will experience the traditional swing style of Grand Prix winners: The Asaba Trio. Yokohama is one of Japan’s most important Jazz cities and its Jazz Promenade is one of the country’s largest Jazz festivals. Sound familiar? The city of Detroit and our Jazz Festival share the same reputation!

 

 

YJP-DJF Excnange Project

 

Michael Malis

 

 

Check out the newest band line-up in the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars, Rising Stars and Detroit Legends as they make their homecoming debut at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe this coming week on November 8-11.  For information and reservations go to DirtyDogJazz.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 31, 2017

 

TWO CLASS ACTS ARE COMING TO A PLACE WITH CLASS

 

 

This week two jazz artists with class will be coming to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.

 

I have always been uncomfortable with the word classy which implies something stylish, superior, high -toned and and exclusive.  Some people wrongfully define class as based only on outward appearance. Long ago when I was growing up it was often used to describe something sophisticated, shallow and aloof. The classy restaurant that was special to my parents felt stuffy and served strange food. My best friends were never referred to as being classy. With time I have come across both places and people that had a lot of class without trying. Living in Detroit I have learned what a class act is. It comes effortlessly to the many hard working and thoughtful people. Class that is found  in Detroit has less to do with wealth or material assets and more to do with having moral values, having a good work ethic, having empathy for others, sharing with others, being  considerate of others, making do with what you have and appreciating what you do have

 

Having class means having a willingness to help others who truly need your help, being respectful of others, being  discreet, being honest, being reliable, being trustworthy, being sincere, and being respectful.

 

I HAVE FOUND CLASS ALL AROUND ME

 

 

 

I find class in watching an older artist applaud the efforts of a young artist at the Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club and in the crowds that sometimes overflow the venues at Detroit’s Jazz Festival, even when they have to stand out of view of the stage they remain uncomplaining out of respect for the music. I find it in watching a young woman standing in line at Kroger give her place to an older customer and in friends who remain friends through the years. I find it in the Eastern Market farmer who lets you know when you have overpaid and in photographers who don’t use flash. Class can be found when a stranger  wishes you a good day, when an executive’s purpose is to retain workers rather than profits, when  leaders  respect their critics as well as their followers, and when teachers  learn from their students while they teach.  We see a lot of class when winners and losers get a beer together at the local bar after the game.

 

“Classy” didn’t always leap to mind when I thought of jazz artists or jazz clubs.  That was true until I started to hang out at places where I could  hear musicians with  good manners, upright bearing, deportment, ease with strangers, self depreciation, talent, effortless grace, tact and humility play the highest class of jazz, surrounded by a respectful audience.

 

 

CLASS ACTS at the Dirty Dog

 

“Classy” didn’t always leap to mind when I thought of jazz artists or jazz clubs.  That was true until I started to hang out at places where I could  hear musicians with  good manners, upright bearing, deportment, ease with strangers, talent, effortless grace, tact and humility play the highest class of jazz, surrounded by a respectful audience.

 

This included all the musicians, staff and management who make an honest effort with good cheer. Examples seen at the Dirty Dog include any Detroit bassist laying down a pocket for another artist / everything about Marion Hayden has class, even her hair that dances when she nods her head to the beat, Dirty Dog manager Willie Jones’ gently nudging a glass to a better place on a table and his hand on one of the staff’s shoulder as he listens with a slight smile, Ralphe Armstrong when he talks with pride about Detroit,  Gayelynn McKinney listening to Ralphe one more time,  Chef Andre remaining unseen,  smiling at the diners,  Gretchen Valade taking accolades with grace and humility, Freddie Cole’s warm soul and voice,  Carl being Carl, which means being alert to the needs of those around him,  all the other jazz artists who show up in  support of other artists, all the Detroit master artists who like  Rodney Whitaker for no matter how important they  become they don’t  forget how they got there and all the artists that bring with them their high quality of talent, good cheer and selfless high character.

 

                                        

          

        

 

 

John Osler

 

Coming To The Dirty Dog Jazz Café

 

TWO ARTISTS WHO DEFINE CLASS

 

 

November 1 – 2

 

 

IAN FINKELSTEIN

 

Ian is a Detroit based pianist, composer, producer and educator. He’ll be playing a mix of Jazz standards and his own compositions. In past gigs at the Dirty Dog Ian has created and played an original piece for the occasion. Ian is a class act.

 

November 3-4

 

 

NICOLE HENRY

 

Nicole Henry has established herself as one of the jazz world’s most acclaimed vocalists, possessing a potent combination of dynamic vocal abilities, impeccable phrasing, and powerful emotional resonance.

Nicole Henry tells her stories through repertoire from the American Songbook, classic and contemporary jazz, contemporary standards, blues and originals.

 She will add even more class to the weekend at the Dirty Dog.

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October 27, 2017

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Jazz Notes Goes Halloween for 2017

 

Jazz-up your Halloween with our “Jazz Notes” Halloween-themed playlist full of rare “other-worldly” sounds from some of the top names in Jazz from Miles Davis to Albert Ayler!

 

Here’s Ella Fitzgerald’s rare gem on You Tube of  “Two Little Men in a Flying Saucer” from the 1951 Decca release “The Hot Canary”.

 

 

 

“Old Devil Moon”: Sonny Rollins, Night at the Village Vanguard, 1957

 

“Frankenstein”, Jackie McLean, One Step Beyond, 1964

 

“Skeleton in the Closet”, Louis Armstrong, from the film Pennies from Heaven, 1936

 

 

 

“Thriller”, Lester Bowie, Twilight Dreams, 1987

 

“Stalking Monster”, Duke Ellington, Night Creature 1963

 

“Ghost of a Chance”, Lennie Tristano, Original Jazz Sound, 1947

 

“Ghost of Smokey Joe”, Cab Calloway, 1939

 

“It Sounds Like It’s Coming from Somewhere Else”, Albert Ayler, Spirits, 1964

 

“‘Round Midnight”, Miles Davis, Round About Midnight (album) 1957

 

 

 

Miles Davis Quintet featuring Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. Recorded at Berlin, West Germany, on November 4, 1967. Listen for the unbelievable improvisation on this version of the Thelonious Monk classic…performed by a group of masters, no less.

 

 

“There are Other Worlds They Have Not Told You Of”,  Sun Ra, Languidity, 1978

 

 

 

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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October 26, 2017

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Straight Ahead at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

 

The band Straight Ahead returns to the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe for four nights: Wednesday October 25 through Saturday October 28th.

 

 

One of Detroit’s favorite ensembles, Straight Ahead, has been around since 1989 with most of their original band members still intact with pianist Aleena Orr, bassist Marion Hayden and drummer Gayelynn McKinney. Their newest members include trumpeter Dwight Adams and Yancii on saxophone.

 

 

What has enabled this band to last nearly thirty years is that they’ve cultivated a loyal following due to a combination of their overall musical ability, their reputation and professional approach to the music. Currently they are at the top of their “game” and as individuals perform with some of the top musicians in the world.

 

 

Ms.McKinney is a member of Detroit’s highly respected McKinney music family and is the daughter of the late composer/pianist/cultural activist, Harold McKinney. She currently performs and tours regularly with Aretha Franklin and Ralphe Armstrong.

 

 

A recipient of the prestigious Kresge fellowship grant in 2016, Marion Hayden performs with a variety of artists both locally and internationally. These include Steve Turre, James Carter, and many more. Early in her career she was mentored by such Detroit stalwarts as Roy Brooks, Donald Walden and others. She is also on the music faculty at the University of Michigan School of Music.

 

 

Powerful pianist Aleena Orr has been playing consistently in Detroit and around the world for several decades and specializes in Jazz and Latin American music. Dwight Adams brings his various  talents to the group and does an excellent job fronting the band.

 

 

Straight Ahead made their international debut in 1989 when they opened for the legendary Nina Simone at the Montreux-Switzerland Jazz Festival.

 

 

The following year they were signed to Atlantic records with their debut release “Look Straight Ahead” which made the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Chart “Top 20”. “Body and Soul” was next and in 1995 they released their third album “Dance Of the Forest Rain” which caught the attention of Branford Marsalis who said the group was “a monster outfit that truly swings”!

 

 

Since then, this Grammy nominated group has performed regularly in the United States, Central America, and Europe. They also recently performed a concert at the prestigious Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.

 

 

For reservations and information contact the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe at 313-882-5299.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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October 23, 2017

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Photo courtesy of Straight Ahead

 

STRAIGHT AHEAD

 

Straight Ahead  is a Detroit jazz ensemble with a name that rings true for them. They are a remarkable group of jazz musicians that has stayed on course and together for the long haul. The band’s not so straight path has taken them around the world and straight on back to Detroit and to the Dirty Dog. Straight Ahead doesn’t always follow a narrow path in their music. They have a lot of fun getting to their destination and their audiences will usually be joyfully caught up in their journey.

 

This week the band, starting Wednesday, will be at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for eight shows over four days. They will make some new friends with each appearance. They have a way of making a fan feel like a friend.

 

They are such a good story. This group was formed 30 years ago by assembling some of Detroit’s best musicians who also happened to be women and early on they earned some breaks because they were just so good. They have stuck together because they have become  a family.

 

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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”. This could apply to many jazz groups but Straight Ahead comes immediately to mind. Maybe it is the band members’ quick-to-smile demeanor when in each other’s company that makes one think that they are family.

 

“Family” is used metaphorically to include a social unit of any size that shares common values. A family of musicians accurately describes the this band.  They are such a good story.  They have always remained friends. They certainly have shared many common experiences and values. They are also equally talented individuals. Like any family they have, at times, gone their separate ways,  but they always come back to the nest to play some great jazz together. What pulls them back is fellowship.

 

 

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MARION HAYDEN       GAYELYNN MCKINNEY                ALEENA ORR

 

FELLOWSHIP

 

Fellowship is a friendly feeling that exists between people who have a shared interest or who do something as a group:

 

Becoming a group was singer and pianist Miche Baden’s idea. She wanted to show the world the strength and inventiveness of Detroit’s female artists. It was, however their power, skill and their adventurous spirit  that propelled them into the world’s spotlight. Each member brought world class resumes and a willingness to share their gifts.

 

A short time after Miche Baden left for a career in NYC, violinist Regina Carter joined the group which included Alina Morr, piano, Marion Hayden, bass, and drummer Gayelyne McKinney. The quartet got noticed playing venues in Detroit and were tapped to play the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland leading off for Nina Simone. Later Regina took her fiddle to NYC and started what has been a remarkable career as a soloist. They added vocalist Cynthia Dewherst  before they signed with Atlantic Records where they cut three albums. Straight Ahead toured the country and abroad playing with musical greats including Nancy Wilson, Jean Luc Ponty, Roy Ayers, Tony Bennett, Dianne Reeves, Max Roach, Stanley Clarke and the Yellowjackets. Today Straight Ahead remains anchored by Marion, Gayelynn and Aleena. The fellowship of these three musicians has now become legend.

 

 

 

New Straight Ahead family members are vocalist Kymberli Wright and saxophonist Yancyy.

 

 

 

DETROIT’S CREATIVE FAMILY  HAS HONORED TWO OF STRAIGHT AHEAD’S FAMILY

 

 

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private national foundation. Wow! We can sure use their help, and Detroit is getting their help in many ways.

 

The Kresge Foundation’s steadfast commitment to Detroit is embodied in varied  programs. The foundation was established in Detroit in 1924 and has consistently invested in Detroit for more than 90 years.

 

The Kresge Detroit Program works through six integrated focus areas to advance opportunity and quality of life. One of their stated goals is to support a thriving arts and culture community that enriches residents’ quality of life and connections to one another. They believe that arts and creativity enhance Detroit’s identity and have the ability to attract visitors and increase economic activity.

 

KRESGE ARTIST’S FELLOWSHIPS

 

The Foundation works toward this goal through their support for the Kresge Arts in Detroit Artist Fellows Program, I can testify that the Kresge Foundation doesn’t pass out the arts fellowships willy nilly. They are earned by deserving artists. It is, therefore, remarkable to me that in one band there are two worthy Kresge Artists Fellows. The Straight Ahead family and friends are all proud and extend kudos to the wise judges.

 

 KRESGE FELLOW MARION HAYDEN

 

KRESGE FELLOW GAYELYNN MCKINNEY

 

IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY

 

Our family became regulars when Straight Ahead played locally to an audience comprised mostly of their friends and family members. Like most musicians and musical groups who succeed, they found an abundance of family support. Family and mentors filled the small clubs they played while they were finding their wings.

 

Our son, Bill, then a young musician dragged us to a lot of Straight Ahead’s earliest gigs.  There he got a chance to hear and talk to one of his jazz heroes, the drummer Gayelynn McKinney.  I have a vivid memory of seeing both of their smiling faces as they talked about drumming . They both were smiling. So were we. We were all family. It is catching.

 

John Osler

 

 

THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG

October 25- 28

 

 

 

STRAIGHT AHEAD

 

This week the band Straight Ahead, starting Wednesday, will be at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café among friends. For four nights we have a chance to scrap all our responsibilities and spend some time with family at the Dirty Dog.

 

Come on out and witness a family of musicians that believes in not looking back, bringing others on the journey, staying on course and showing up and bringing it every night.

 

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