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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.
August 16, 2019

 

This week we celebrate the music artistry of Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.

 

Harpists are quite rare in most musical circles, much less, Jazz. And yet, two Detroit-born musicians not only became known as the top harpists in Jazz, they received world-wide attention as virtuosos in their field.

 

 

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Dorothy Ashby / Photo Last.FM

 

 

Jazz harpist, Dorothy Jeanne Thompson, known as Dorothy Ashby (August 6, 1930-April 13, 1986) both popularized and legitimized the use of the harp in Jazz. She was quite an innovator in several ways.

 

 

She had a sound all her own and as early as the 1950’s and 1960’s, was one of the first Jazz artists to blend traditional Jazz with R&B, world and other music.

 

 

She not only used compositional elements from these genres, but utilized instruments from various cultures such as the ancient Japanese harp-type instrument, the Koto.  This could be heard on her commercially successful 1970 release “The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby”.

 

 

Born in Detroit, she attended the world renowned Cass Technical High School along side other emerging Detroit Jazz giants such as Donald Byrd, Gerald Wilson, Alice McLeod Coltrane and Kenny Burrell.

 

 

She went on to study at Detroit’s Wayne State University where she studied piano and music education. After graduating, she began playing the piano, as well as the harp, in Detroit’s vibrant Jazz scene, though by 1952 she had made the harp her main instrument.

 

 

At first her fellow jazz musicians were resistant to the idea of adding the harp, which they perceived as an instrument of classical music and somewhat ethereal in sound for Jazz performances. So Ashby overcame their initial resistance and built support for the harp as a Jazz instrument by organizing free shows and playing at dances and weddings with her trio.

 

 

She recorded with Ed Thigpen, Richard Davis, Frank Wess and others in the late 1950s and early 1960s. During the 1960s, she also had her own radio show in Detroit.

 

 

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Dorothy Ashby’s Afro-Harping album on Cadet records / Wikipedia.org

 

 

She definitely paved the way for Alice Coltrane (second wife of innovative Jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane) who also went to Cass Tech and played harp, piano, harmonium and other instruments as she also fused music from various cultures, especially Indian folk themes and other Asian elements.   Ashby died on April 13, 1986 in Santa Monica, California.

 

 

 

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Alice Coltrane, “Silk Potrait”,  photo: Word Press.com

 

 

Alice Coltrane, (August 27, 1937 – January 12, 2007) was a Detroit born pianist, organist, harpist, and composer, and was married to the iconic Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. Her first husband was Detroit Jazz vocalist Kenny “Poncho” Hagood. In the 1960’s she studied Jazz with the great Bud Powell in Paris.

 

 

AliceColtrane UniversalConsciousness.blogspot.com

 

Alice Coltrane / Universal Consciousness (Improvised Solo)  album / blogspot.com

 

Like so many other great Jazz artists from Detroit, she also attended Cass Tech High School and became one of the few harpists in Jazz. Her knowledge and love for music from many cultures had a major influence on John Coltrane who learned a lot about music from her during their marriage.

 

 

She recorded many albums as a bandleader, beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many of her works were very spiritual, containing motifs and instrumentation from Africa and Asia. One of her most revered albums was “Journey in Satchidananda” (1971 Impulse) with saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, bassist Charlie Haden, Vishnu Wood on oud and others.

 

 

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Detroit Birthdays  for August which includes profiles of Benny Maupin and Regina Carter.

 

 

 

 

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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August 8, 2019

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Pianist Cameron Graves / Photo: Discogs.com

 

 

 

Since its beginning, Jazz is constantly evolving as it keeps up with emerging trends in the genre, while staying rooted in it’s past. That’s how Jazz stays current while it attracts new fans and artists who represent younger generations that keep the music fresh and up to date.

 

 

A perfect example of this is with pianist Cameron Graves who is at the Dirty Dog this week and also at the Detroit Jazz Festival Labor Day weekend. I was lucky to hear him perform when he was at the Dirty Dog earlier this year.

 

 

A member of the cutting edge, Los Angeles collective, the “West Coast Get Down”. Graves style was described by his fellow “West Coast Get Down member”, Kamasi Washington, as an “almost unbelievable combination of modal jazz, romantic era European classical music and mathematical death metal.”

 

 

Graves first record on Detroit’s own Mack Avenue Records, “Planetary Prince”, also serves as his pseudonym. Graves was a member of Jada Pinkett Smith’s band Wicked Wisdom and has performed and recorded with Stanley Clarke (Artist in Residence at the Detroit Festival this year), Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, Dr. Dre and Miles Mosley.

 

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On his second Mack Avenue album Cameron explains. … “I wanted to go back to my roots and do an old school R&B album…what I call a ‘Grown Folks’ record. You’ll hear many of the new compositions from his new album during his upcoming performances at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café and the Detroit Jazz Festival.

 

 

Pianist Cameron Graves

Pianist, Cameron Graves / Photo: SfJazz.org

 

 

Special performances with Cameron Graves and the Detroit Jazz All-Stars are scheduled this week at the Dirty Dog. The Detroit Jazz All-stars includes Rob Pipho (piano/vibes), Chuck Newsome (guitar), Marion Hayden (Bass) , David Taylor (drums)  and Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation President Chris Collins (saxophone).

 

 

Go to DirtyDogzJazz.com for more information on these performances.

 

 

HERE’S THE SCHEDULE OF PERFORMANCE DATES/TIMES with CAMERON GRAVES this week at the DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE:

 

WEDNESDAY  August 7: The band performs from 7pm-8:30pm

 

FRIDAY August 09: Band Performs from 6:30pm-7:30pm

 

SATURDAY: August 10: Band Performs from 6:30pm-7:30pm

 

For more information go to DirtyDogJazz.com or DetroitJazzFest.com.

 

https://www.mackavenue.com/artists

 

 

 

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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August 1, 2019

MaRainey 1920's

 

 

Ma Rainey Georgia Jazz Band posing for a studio group shot in the mid-1920s, with Thomas A. Dorsey at the piano.

Photo: JP Jazz Archives/Redfern

 

 

Not only was Jazz one of the most popular music styles in the U.S. for more 50 years during the first half of the 20th century, it was also celebrated during what is known as the “Jazz Age”.

 

 

Wikipedia tells us about the Jazz Age…

 

The Jazz Age was a period in the 1920s and 1930s in which Jazz music and dance styles rapidly gained nationwide popularity in the United States. The Jazz Age’s cultural repercussions were primarily felt in the United States, the birthplace of jazz. Originating in New Orleans as a fusion of African and European music, jazz played a significant part in wider cultural changes in this period, and its influence on pop culture continued long afterward.

 

 

 The movement was largely affected by the introduction of radios nationwide. During this time, the Jazz Age was intertwined with the developing cultures of young people, women, and African Americans. The movement also helped start the beginning of the European Jazz movement. American author F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely credited with coining the term, first using it in his 1922 short story collection titled Tales of the Jazz Age.

 

 

According to Statista Research today’s top music genres are Rock, Hip Hop, and Country – with Jazz being 11th on the list. This was based on the total music album consumption in the U.S. in 2018.  Not long ago though, Jazz was number one for more than 50 years, from the early 1900’s until the 1950’s.This was no accident.  There were many crucial events that helped propel Jazz onto the world stage.

 

 

The early 20th century was the dawn of the modern era, when the world first heard the Blues, Ragtime and Tin Pan emergence coincided with the advent of radio and recordings in the 1920’s. How fortuitous this was for Jazz!

 

 

The music industry was born and the pressure was on to sell records and celebrity performers. During the 1920s, blues singers, like Mamie Smith, turned into recording artists and became the first “coast to coast” musical celebrities.

 

 

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Mamie Smith (née Robinson; May 26, 1891 – September 16, 1946) was an American vaudeville singer, dancer, pianist and actress. As a vaudeville singer she performed in various styles, including Jazz and Blues. Photo: BMPAudio

 

 

The new and powerful effective technology of records and radio began spreading the music far and wide, inspiring new regional Jazz styles in New York, New Orleans, Chicago and elsewhere including Detroit, of course!

 

 

In the 1930s, radio fueled the new and immense popularity of the Big Bands of Fletcher Henderson, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway and others. There were live nightly broadcasts from Chicago and New York that aired coast to coast for years.

 

 

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Duke Ellington and his orchestra and the Cotton Club Orchestra in 1927.

 

 

Live broadcasts continued into the 1940’s, with Swing and then Bebop, created by such virtuosic artists as Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and others. Thousands of these broadcasts were put on record as well.

 

 

Jazz was “king” until the 1950s when music tastes were swayed by the new sounds of Rock and Roll.  It was the post-War baby boom and the focus was on the fast growing youth audience. Since then radio became heavily formatted with fewer opportunities for live music. Plus, many Jazz clubs folded after television’s debut, which tempted people to stay home for their entertainment needs.

 

 

Yet, Jazz remains the most respected and influential modern genre to this day. It has expanded into countless sub-genres from Fusion and Acid Jazz, to Free Jazz and Experimental, impacting most music created in the past 100 years.

 

 

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is known for presenting a full-spectrum of Jazz styles. See the “Upcoming Shows” section on the wbsite, DirtyDogJazz.com, for the current performance schedule for a world renowned Jazz club where Jazz is still “number one”.

 

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Cabell “Cab” Calloway III (1907-1994) was a jazz singer and bandleader who is known for his song “Hi Di Ho”. He was strongly associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, where he was a regular performer. His popularity was greatly due to his twice-weekly live national radio broadcasts on NBC at the Cotton Club in the early 1930’s.

Photo: PBS.org

 

 

 

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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July 27, 2019

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SKETCH #4    SPRING 2017

 

INTERPRETATION

 

In my thoughts on the four stages of the creative process this final stage is where most of 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 the story, (4) they get to put their stamp on the creation and it becomes uniquely theirs. They can go wild and add dabs of color, twist a phrase or add a new note as long as it is in the artist voice. No one who came into a room and heard  Louis Armstrong or Frank Sinatra would have had to ask who it was. A Woody Allen or Coen Brother movie is pretty easy to spot.

 

A Van Gogh painting shouts Van Gogh.

 

 

Seldom has an artist’s life seemed as big as his work as in the case of Vincent Van Gogh. His passion to paint which consumed his total being led to powerful images and several big box office movies. Vincent certainly didn’t see success come his way in his lifetime. He did live a life of an artist and his art has vindicated his complete dedication to his vision.

 

A Mark Rothko painting is sublimely a Rothko.

 

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The Detroit Institute of Art has a remarkable example of Mark Rothko’s genius. Simple blocks of color are painted subtly just where they should be. I can spend a lot of time sitting  in front of this paintings wondering how anyone could be so astute.

I get strange stares sometimes from those who have less wonder in such a simple piece of art. Mark Rothko’s paintings are as hard to replicate as are a Van Gogh or Louis Armstrong masterpiece.

Their act of interpreting is when their craft became 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. I enjoy  art most when I see what the artist wanted to say in his/her work.

 

 

 

 

Louis Armstrong was uniquely Satchmo

 

Louis Armstrong was a serious musician and an entertainer. I think we see  the real Louis in his early recordings before he was a public figure. His unique phrasing seemed to make the tunes he played have more meaning. His playing comes straight from his heart to your heart.

 

INSPIRATION IN PROVENCE

 

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Artist often have a dilemma. They can have empty pockets and some unpaid bills, they can at the same moment have a personal story to tell and a passion to put their voice in the story. There is only so much time in any day. They could easily make a bunch of stuff to take to market that would be sure sales. Many are driven to remain an artist and hope others will like their story.

 

When I am in Provence I have often been inspired by friends who are true artists.

 

 MY FRIEND, PASCAL BALAY

 

 

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While I am in France I spend time with a friend of many years, Pascal Balay. Pascal has supported herself and successfully raised three children 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 comes with the purchase of everything she produces.

Pascal was trained in England, so I can understand her when she talks about her art. She makes it clear that her art is always going to be her 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 will be a new adventure. She has a healthy respect for keeping art in her craft. 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.

 

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Many artists like Pascal 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.

 

 

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Watching her with eager young potters reminds me of Detroit’s master teachers working with up and coming jazz artists.

 

INSPIRATION IN DETROIT

 

I have been fortunate to be around artists at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café who remind me what interpreting sounds like. They remind me that it is OK to express myself. 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

 

COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG

 

August 14 & 15

 

 

 

NATHAN ZAPORSKI

 

Nathan is a multi – talented jazz artist who will bring his saxophone and some similarly gifted friends to the Dirty Dog. He will be a familiar face as he has joined his uncle, Michael Zaporski and Future Visions. Nathan is from Detroit, so don’t be surprised if he shows us some new things that he knows we will enjoy..

 

 

 August 16 & 17

 

 

SARA GAZAREK

 

“Graced with an “impeccable” voice (Winnipeg Free Press) and hailed as an artist that “may well turn out to be the next important jazz singer” by the LA Times, Sara Gazarek has been one of the leading lights of an impressive generation of jazz vocalists since her brilliant emergence at age 20. From the outside, her subsequent career has been the picture of success: five acclaimed albums, an ardent fanbase, enthusiastic reviews, and opportunities that have taken her around the world, leading to thrilling collaborations with some of her most respected and celebrated peers.”

 

 

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July 26, 2019

THE CREATIVE PROCESS – EDITING

 

Can you imagine taking a perfect piece of marble or wood and whacking at it with a hammer and chisel to make a piece of art. That is the ultimate act of editing.

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

John Osler

 

I sometimes model in clay by adding and then taking away, a process that requires less confidence in one’s editing skill

 

 

 

  

John Osler                                                                 Michelangelo

 

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.”

 

THE DREADED EDIT

 

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

Editing your work 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. 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. The great John Singer Sargent wiped whole canvases away and started over, and he never painted anything bad.  Away would go all the terrific stuff that was inappropriate to his subject. I would like to someday find his discarded pieces.

 

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HILLSIDE /JOHN OSLER

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

 

Greening is what editing when writing for publication is often called. This phrase originated when editors used a green marker to indicate what copy needed to be cut to fit the column length. It took young writers a while to get used to having 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.”

 

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PROVENCE

 

I went to the same villages to paint for over 25 years.

 

Coming from the a young country like the United States and then spending time in the South of France is an eye opening experience. Looking around the countryside in Provence, France we are 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.

Nature and man have seemingly combined to edit away the ugly and include only things that are sublimely beautiful.
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.

CHOOSING WHAT IS IMPORTANT and what is not all that important.

 

 

 

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Being your own editor

 

Movie makers, magazine writers and  book authors  usually have someone they trust edit their work. Jazz musicians don’t have that luxury. What a gift. What power good editing can have. 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 included.  Maybe I am going on a little long about this.
John Osler

COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

AUGUST 7 –  AUGUST 10

 

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CHRIS COLLINS  PRESIDENT DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL

 

THE DETROIT JAZZ  FESTIVAL ALL STARS

 

Editing an all star band

 

This week at the Dirty Dog you will hear  musicians that genuinely think that nothing great will come from stepping on each other. Each will make room for the other on their way to making something hopeful and beautiful.

All bands need a headliner, someone who has built a name for himself and can draw a crowd. All star groups have a band full of headliners. This coming week all the players will be bandleaders.

In many organizations if you are talented, you are  encouraged to assert yourself. Jazz soloists get to do that from time to time. Jazz like democracy asks more of us. To succeed you have to be a functioning community of players. Each talented player must make room for the other guy. Jazz is also an art form. Jazz music has form to be followed and has many principles that apply to real life. Jazz teaches equality without undermining authority. It instructs the artists how to be assertive without damaging community, and how to live together better without losing their individual identity. Jazz has things to teach all of us.

Sometimes musicians have to edit out their self importance. All stars do this

Chris Collins has the job of putting together an all star band. In a great jazz town like Detroit,  this is one tough editing job. Most of the artists on any Detroit jazz  list are deserving  and usually answer their phones. Chris’s primary job is to bring together talented individuals who will best create the style of music that he envisions

Next week the All Stars will celebrate Detroit’s influence on jazz to the Dirty Dog. The all stars will bring together some of our town’s greatest jazz musicians to play for what is always a knowledgeable house. They will not disappoint us.

 

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THE CREATIVE PROCESS

 

All artists have a unique process that they are comfortable with. When they write their kid a letter or create their life defining masterpiece they begin by realizing that they have something to say. How they get to the finished letter or final version of their masterpiece is what we can call the creative process.

 

   

Painting by Judy Bowman

 

THE CREATIVE PROCESS

 

MY THOUGHTS ON THE STAGES OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS

 

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

 

CREATIVE STAGES (my version)

 

I feel the creative process can be broken down into the following four stages. We are constantly exploring, observing, editing our observations and putting our observations into our own words. All of these actions are equally important and affect each other.

 

EXPLORE

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

OBSERVE

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

EDIT

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

INTERPRET

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

SHARE

 

This is an optional step in the creative process. Sharing the product of the creative process isn’t necessary but can be rewarding in many ways.

STAGE TWO OF THE CREATIVE PROCESS IS: OBSERVATION

 

Continuing a conversation on the creative process. Last week I described what my version of the creative process looks like. It started with the idea of getting away from your comfort zone and entering the first stage of EXPLORING.

 

STAGE TWO – OBSERVING

 

LOOKING AROUND ONCE YOU ARE THERE

 

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. 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 creative process.  A keen sense of observation is handy but staring is not necessary. At times an artist just sees things that are overlooked in a busy life.  That is the reason that being in a place like Provence, France, where it is a part of the culture to take the time to look, has helped me be more observant.  Artists get in the habit of seeing, listening and discovering. Sometime it will all be used in some way. It is cumulative .

 

PROVENCE

 

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The South of France is a great place to find inspiration….  and good food …and good wine .

Through the years we have been lucky to spend time in the South of France and in other artists homes. I have found plenty of inspiration.

 

 

 

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A walk in Provence or a glance at flowers in shadows will often lead to my starting to paint large canvases filled with movement and color. The motion of the trees, fields and vines as the strong clear winds of the mistral sweeps through them has added to my vision. The wind turns the leaves over and over as the sunlight comes through them. This is a  place where our lives slow down. and we give more of our time to seeing, smelling and hearing nature all around us. This is a wonderful place to create.

 

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My friend JC Mathes

 

I wasn’t sure I was ready to explore after finding out how comfortable it is sitting in warm weather surrounded by vines, under blue skies, in the company of good friends, good food and good wine.  At moments like this it seemed like the right kind of exploring to me. I still wanted to see the wind in the fields and the trees . . so off we went.

 

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Sometimes obstacles are put in your way. There is a lot of lamb and goat cheese dished out in this lush agricultural area. It seemed every time we got into the car we ran into the source. All traffic stops as the dogs and their masters use the narrow roads to bring the sheep to higher ground each spring. No one minds as the world slows down at times like this. No one creates a new law to prevent this from ever happening again. Smiling people ran out of their shops to observe this springtime tradition. This is the way that life is here.

 

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CASSIS                                                                                           OIL/CANVAS

 

STARING AT THE SEA

 

A few years ago on a Sunday morning in the village of Cassis, France there was almost no one out and about. The reason probably is that Cassis is a small fishing village on the Mediterranean. It has great seafood with restaurants that encourage boisterous conversations at all hours. Saturday night is a night to sample some of the fresh catch cooked by great chefs. A meal like this leads to having long conversations with plenty to drink, which can lead to rocky Sunday mornings. I was flying out of Marseille that day and got up early. I had time to go down onto the the beach and take one last look at the sea and the magical hazy light. One lone walker came slowly down the beach. I didn’t greet him or disturb him I just observed him. I don’t know whether he was reliving some happy moments or was still  in the fog of a rough Saturday night. All I know for sure is that he was deep in his thoughts.

When I painted that moment I included the color of the region rather than the gray and rather drab colorless morning just before I would have to leave this radiant place.

 

This week I am at an Island in Canada. The one thing that I observe is that this ancient place is constantly changing.

 

 

LISTENING

 

Sometimes I am surprised by my ability to hear more clearly sitting alone on a rock that is billions of years old.

I will be in surroundings that are quiet / tranquil but can also be intense. Gentle warm breezes  move the tops of the pine trees pointing you to the shadows where the chirping of red squirrels and insects remind you that you are surrounded by frantic activity.

Nature has thrown violent thunderstorms, forest fires and wind shearing fronts at the island’s trees. Most bend and those that crack become soil for future trees and a home for an abundance of insects. After all the time that I have spent on this island, I still have daily discoveries of small things that I never noticed before. Nature has had billions of years preparing this place for me. Things in nature make the necessary changes to survive. I can’t help but make the comparison that nature has the freedom to improvise much as jazz musicians have been given this freedom. All musicians need to have stored up sounds that they can bring to the fore as they create on the fly.

I spend a fraction of my time really listening, watching and observing. It is my best time.

John Osler

 

THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG

 

July 31, August 2 & 3

 

 

 

ZEN ZADRAVEC

 

Zen is a Canadian pianist and saxophonist who  composes and arranges his very original ideas.

 

  

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July 18, 2019

JudyAdams (OslerPhoto)

 

Judy Adams at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe / Photo by John Osler

 

 

 

It was back in 2014, that fellow blogger, John Osler, and I were invited by Jazz impresaria and owner of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, Gretchen Valade, to write weekly blogs on Jazz for the Dirty Dog’s website DirtyDogJazz.com. Our blogs are on the “home page” under “recent posts”.

 

 

John’s blog, “UpBeat” reflects upon the art of Jazz and its environs, both local and international. John is a celebrated artist who created several Detroit Jazz Festival posters based on his amazing paintings and has published “Detroit Jazz” an award-winning book featuring his photographs of Detroit Jazz artists.

 

 

The purpose of my blog “Jazz Notes” is to bring you closer to the music and the artists who create it – both past, present and future. Think of “Jazz Notes” as a “listening companion” of sorts. It often suggests what to listen for in the music. I’ve met so many people who love and support Jazz but say, they do not know much about it such as its history, key artists or style makers.

 

 

My blog aims to increase appreciation for a multi-faceted genre that continues to be vibrant and growing in new directions since its inception approximately 150 years ago.

 

 

Jazz has been on a continuum since the beginning…ever changing, ever growing but maintaining its foundation. Many music genres are trends that come and go, while Jazz is constantly absorbing and reflecting the world around us.

 

 

As mentioned above “Jazz Notes” is a useful tool for people who are both new to the Jazz idiom as well as longtime fans and aficionados as we write about current and historical Jazz from Detroit’s vibrant Jazz community as well as from Jazz around the world. We discuss its form and content such as the use of improvisation, complex rhythms, and other defining elements. We also emphasize that Jazz is all about individual expression and creative freedom giving artists the permission to break the rules and create outside of the mainstream.

 

 

Over the past five years we’ve brought you closer to the music with blogs on:

Artist Profiles and Key Innovators

Jazz History Around the World and the history of Jazz in Detroit

The Detroit Jazz Festival including each year’s “artist-in-residence”.  This year it’s bassist Stanley Clarke!

New and emerging artists who are poised to take this genre into the future.

and much more…

 

Whether you’ve just found us or have been with us since the beginning, we’re glad you’re here to explore the wide world of Jazz, one of the most influential genres in music history.

 

 

 

 

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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July 17, 2019

 

JULY IN MICHIGAN

 

There was a time when a stream of cars would pour out of Southeastern Michigan filled with families, tents and provisions heading to a lake up north. Many still do, but everyone has more choices and more family decisions to make. Heading up North means missing out on a lot of ” not to be missed” events nearer to home, especially in Detroit.

Detroit shows off its musical riches with free outdoor music concerts.downtown almost every weekend until Labor Day, when we will be treated to of the world’s finest music festivals, the Detroit Jazz Festival.

 

SUMMERTIME

 

Summer is here and we have plenty to celebrate in Michigan . Crops planted this spring will be harvested and ready to eat.

 

July in Michigan requires restraint when entering the grocery store and special caution when you come upon a fresh fruit stand. This is loose clothes season in Michigan. Our great local produce starts showing up, and it all goes well at a picnic. At the Dirty Dog Chef Andre and his crew will use Michigan’s rich fresh bounty that is  available only at this time of year. Standing and clapping at all of Michigan’s summer events will help balance out the mouth watering fare.

 

SUMMER STARS

 

 

As a kid growing up in Michigan one of the greatest treats was to lie on your back on a warm summer night and look up at the stars. In the forties you could count on the fact that the northern lights were going to show up if you waited long enough. The sky was so filled with stars that you could walk home using the light from the Milky Way, at least from the edge of our backyard.

Looking up at the stars is habit forming. This past Saturday night I attended an art gallery opening in Detroit. Some of Detroit’s brightest stars’ paintings and sculptures were in full glow mode.

 

DEEPLY DETROIT

 

Sometimes when the gas prices soar in summer or your teen-aged kids are in love and don’t want to leave town, you can always get into your air conditioned car and find some art and music in Detroit. Detroit artists and musicians who choose to stay in a city that freezes over for a good part of the year and still has a lot of rust will be happy to show you what they are up to. If it is in Detroit it is going to be interesting. There is something about Detroit that has been ground into us that pops up when we tell a story through our art. Risks are taken and sometimes the results are uneven, but it is always deeply Detroit.

 

 

Driving around Detroit is a visual cornucopia. Stepping out of your car and going in to hear some music is just icing on the cake. If you want a break from the traffic I hope that you would consider listening to real jazz at the deeply air conditioned Dirty Dog Jazz Café and stopping at a new art space located at 2439 Fourth St in Detroit. A true patron of the arts has opened a gallery that has opened its arms to Detroit artists. Chuck Duquet has become a hero to those close to the arts in Detroit. Chuck has created a space that is full of energy and opportunity. Our finest artists have responded by placing their work in his hands.

 

The Collected Detroit Art Gallery

 

Chuck had collected the work of some of America’s finest artists, including many Detroiters . He just needed a place to share and sell his collection.

 

Charles McGee, "Harvest"
Charles McGee, “Harvest”

 

DEEPLY DETROIT

 

Chuck this last week had an opening for a new exhibition he is calling appropriately Deeply Detroit. I am pleased to be part of this show which includes many friends. The art can be seen at the gallery until August 31, 2019 The gallery hours are Wed. through Fri. 11AM – 4PM Sat. 11AM – 4PM

The artists include Artis Lane – Hubert Massey – Henry Heading _ Richard Bennett – Dennis K Smith – Michael Horner – Judy Bowman – John Osler – Ijania Cortez

Each artist is worth a lengthy introduction , but for now here are some snapshots of their work.

 

Michael Horner

Dennis K Smith

Henry Heading

Artis Lane

Hubert Massey

John Osler

Judy Bowman

 

Judy Bowman and Henry Heading each created  paintings for the exhibit DEEPLY DETROIT honoring one of Detroit’s brightest stars, the great Aretha Franklin. Aretha was given a musical tribute at the opening reception for the show.

 

 

Artist: Judy Bowman

Artist: Henry Heading

 

Last summer we lost Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin was deeply Detroit. Every time I heard Aretha I wondered why she took so much risk. There was always a feeling I had that maybe she was reaching too high. She took us with her out onto musical limbs, then she would leap up to higher scarier limbs and then she would soar into new previously unknown places.  When she took us on her journeys, I found great relief and joy when she landed. She was remarkable. Luckily she shared her gifts with the world.

Most of the tributes talked about her roots being in gospel and in Detroit, about how she also drew on jazz, the blues, rock and, later, opera, about how her unique and majestic swoops and squeals combined the improvisation of jazz, the hurt of the blues and the force of rock.

Not everybody can be from Detroit. Everyone can appreciate what it means to be deeply Detroit.

John Osler

THE COOLEST PLACE THAT I GO ON A HOT SUMMER NIGHT IS THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

July 17 – July 20

GENE DUNLAP

 

Drummer Gene Dunlap will be at the Dog this week.  Gene has a long history of playing jazz in Detroit with a lot of great players. There is a reason. Watch him at work. He remains one the most likable and respected artists in jazz

 

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July 10, 2019

 

CREATING SOMETHING NEW CAN BE A LONELY TASK

 

Most often we think of art as something created by a lone individual working far away from the social whirl. Painters, sculptors, poets and novelists almost always work alone. Their art is their own very personal creative expression. We reach inside ourselves to find the stories we want to tell. Sometimes when  we are still enough we can bring back some good memories to use.

Newborns respond to light and to sounds. They hear the playful voices of their brothers and sisters and the calming words while being rocked in their grandparents’ arms. The rhythms of life surround them from the honking of horns to the rustle of leaves. Infants respond to all sounds and sights We all continue to be surrounded by music and images the rest of our lives. First from our parents’ radios and then ours. As we get out and gain new experiences we begin to listen differently. We later learn to filter information. There will be some other people’s sounds or visuals that bring back our personal memories. Sometimes this leads to collaborative art. Eventually we find ourselves playing with friends.

 

PARTNERING IN JAZZ

 

Jazz musicians are required to spend countless hours practising. When they get good enough they will spend beaucoup hours listening to masters, learning tunes and studying charts. They will spend some time in classes but most of a young jazz artist’s musical life will be spent alone. At some point artists have to play with other artists and they will have to partner up. As any married person knows this is a serious step.

 

     

 

 RALPHE ARMSTRONG AND FRIENDS

 

Two weeks ago two partnerships brought their collaborations to the Dirty Dog.  Ralphe Armstrong went first with his favorite sidekicks followed by the recent teaming of guitarists Diego Figueredo and Stanley Jordan. The common denominator was the visible joy expressed by all the players and the audiences’ appreciation at being treated to witness extreme teamwork.

Ralph Armstrong travels a lot. When he is in town this pretty famous bassist gathers his regulars and plays some jazz at his favorite jazz club, the Dirty Dog. Ralphe after getting the gig will get Alex Colista. Gayelynn McKinney and Gerald Gibbs on the phone and enlist them for his band.

Detroit is full of first call professional jazz musicians who have shared the stage with Ralphe. Yet Ralphe remains loyal to his musical partners and survivors of Ralphe’s witty remarks.

 

   

 

DIEGO AND STANLEY

 

Two of the worlds most significant guitarists have decided to join their talents. Diego Figueredo and Stanley Jordan both play guitar and both can play jazz. That is about it as far as their similarities go. They hold and finger their guitars as differently as two two handed people can hold a guitar. When they played the Dog they seemed to stare at each other with eyes that were asking “how the heck are you doing that?”. Diego and Stanley have mastered the unique techniques that they have developed. They are now at work finding common ground and mutual respect.  What a partnership. What great sets of jazz.

 

DSC_2659 _DSC5564  _DSC5516_DSC1473  DSC00446_edited-1

 

SIDE BY SIDE

 

At the Dirty Dog we often see young musicians playing alongside seasoned players. Ralphe Armstrong is always pointing out saxophonist Alex Calista’s youth. Freddy Cole has had a  warm collaboration with a younger guitarist Randy Napoleon from Ann Arbor.   I remember the bond between a young Marcus Elliot from Milford, Michigan when he played with his friend the late and great Marcus Belgrave from Chester, Pennsylvania. Three generations separated the two Marcus. Their diverse cultures just made the music better. They always played to a room packed with an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.  Mutual respect and the common language of jazz makes this possible.

 

Lester Young and Billie Holiday

 

Jazz has brought together countless numbers of successful musical partnerships. Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, saxophonist Lester Young and jazz singer Billie Holiday etc etc. So much of our music has been the result of collaborations that have turned into friendships.

I have always liked this story I read some time ago about saxophonist Phil Woods. When Phil was a kid of 22  he walked into a New York bar to find Charlie Parker playing  a baritone sax.  Woods offered to lend him his alto, and the two sat side by side as Parker played. Then, Parker handed the instrument back to him and asked him to take a solo. After the song Parker was heard to say, “Sounds real good, Phil”.  The story suggested that maybe the ghost of Bird continued to sit next to Woods when he played and  whispered “Sounds real good, cats.”

Jazz with its group improvisations and importance of listening to each other will always bring people together. The great gift of friendship is just a bonus.

John Osler

 

COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG

 

JULY 10 – JULY 13

 

 

MILES BROWN

 

Last week’s fireworks will continue as Miles Brown brings a genuine mix of old and new ideas that will keep our spirits flying.

 

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July 8, 2019

MilesBrownDirtyDogJazzCafe

 

 

Bassist Miles Brown, who’s at the Dirty Dog this week, is out with a new album “Evidence of Soul and Body” on Detroit Music Factory.

 

 

 

Readers of our weekly “Jazz Notes” blog know that we’ve been concentrating on the “Jazz bass” for the past few weeks . This just happens to coincide with bassist Miles Brown’s upcoming performances at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this week, (July 10-13)  in support of his new album “Evidence of Soul and Body” recently released this past May on the Detroit Music Factory label which is part of the award-winning Detroit label “Mack Avenue Records”.

 

 

Brown’s new album showcases his versatility as bassist, composer, performer and teacher who has earned bachelor and doctorate degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Jazz performance studies as well as a master’s degree from the Mannes College of Music in classical bass performance.

 

 

It’s not surprising that this multi-talented artist comes from a musical family. His father is a Jazz guitarist who can be heard on Miles’s new album. He was the director of the Jazz studies program at Ithaca College. His uncle played trumpet in Stan Kenton’s band and his grand father was a high-school band leader who also played with Latin band leader Xavier Cugat.  “There were always musicians coming through our house”, says Brown. “Mostly Jazz musicians staying the night, eating dinner, rehearsing.

 

 

 

 

In 2009, Brown came to Michigan to become director of the Jazz Studies program at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan where he stayed for about eight years. It was here that he met some of the top Jazz artists on the Detroit music scene including drummer and fellow music educator Sean Dobbins, as well as pianist Xavier Davis and saxophonist Diego Rivera, both from the Michigan State University music faculty.

 

 

Davis, Dobbins and Rivera are all part of the Michigan-based music family that Brown brings together for his performances at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this Wednesday-Saturday, July 10-13th and on his new Detroit Music Factory release: “Evidence of Soul and Body”. Detroit Music Factory is a label that is part of Detroit’s award-winning Mack Avenue Records…it showcases some of some of Detroit’s most talented Jazz artists, and promotes their music around the world.

 

 

As a Jazz performer, Miles has led groups featured at the Syracuse Jazz Festival, the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the JVC Jazz Festival, and the Blue Note. He has played with Jazz masters such as Sam Rivers, Joe Magnarelli, Ralph Alessi, Walt Weiskopf, Harold Danko, Bill Dobbins, Joe Lovano, Ben Monder, and Kenny Werner.

 

 

His new album and live performances present a mix of standards and original compositions.

 

 

Call 313-882-5299 for reservations and information on his performances this week at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, July 10-1

 

 

 

 

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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