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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 brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
February 19, 2018



If you are looking for the warmth that happens only at family gatherings you might consider dropping in at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this week. The place is expecting a lot of friendly and familiar faces gathering in a rare display of good fellowship. Two jazz groups will show us what music sounds like when played by people who really like each other. Cans of the magic glue that binds them together will be available.


Grumpy staff and irascible customers will be asked to remain in a dark corner of the club. However, we expect this section will remain empty for the duration of this week’s music.




A group of people, usually of the same blood (but do not have to be), who genuinely love, trust, care about, and look out for each other.



 A family of musicians would accurately describe the band Straight Ahead.



This week the band Straight Ahead will be at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café surrounded by friends and family.  Rooted in solid friendships and unchanging common goals they continue to reach new personal and collective highs. I, for one, envy their journey. They will be celebrating being part of a group that was formed in 1987 by assembling some of Detroit’s best musicians who happened to be women, They also were good friends. They certainly have shared talent, purpose, experiences and values.  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. For this special gig the band will be welcoming the return of one of its original artists, Regina Carter.






Regina was part of this family of jazz artists from the beginning in 1989.   Forming the band was singer and pianist Miche Baden’s idea. She wanted to show the world the strength and inventiveness of Detroit’s female artists. For sure an all girl jazz ensemble was unique, but it was their power, skill and the adventurous spirit of their music that propelled them into the world’s spotlight. Each member brought world class resumes.


A short time after Miche Baden left for a career in NYC Regina joined the heart of the group which was Alina Morr, piano, Marion Hayden, bass, and drummer Gayelynn 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.


Regina took her fiddle to New York and started what has been a remarkable career as a soloist. Straight Ahead has 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.


Image result for straight ahead female jazz group




Our family became regulars when they played locally in small clubs to mostly family and a growing gang of jazz savvy followers. Our son Bill, a young drummer, got a chance to meet his hero, Gayelynn McKinney, and I have a vivid memory of  seeing both of their smiling faces as they talked drumming. Gayelynn later played at his wedding rehearsal dinner, They both were smiling.



GAYELYNN MCKINNEY                      ALINA MORR                                   MARION HAYDEN




Straight ahead  jazz is a term used to describe any jazz from the ’70s onward that  adheres closely to the historical traditions of jazz. I don’t think this describes this ensemble. I think that having a vision and pursuing it fits.


Not looking back, bringing others on the journey, gathering a group setting out and staying on course. Staying true. Showing up and bringing it every night.


This is what you can expect when you come out to see these Detroit musicians whose straight line has taken them around the world and straight back to the Dirty Dog. This is starting out to be a cold week in our city but by Wednesday it is scheduled to get warmer. At least at the Dirty Dog.


Straight Ahead has seen changes in personnel but remains anchored by family members Marion, Gayelynn, Regina and Alina. Joining them at the Dirty Dog will be Elden Kelly on guitar.




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


Following Straight Ahead into the Dirty Dog this week will be the Four Freshmen. If Straight ahead exemplifies family the Freshmen describe fellowship.



For just being Freshmen they seem to have some history.


These undergraduates are perennial overachievers, especially in making us feel good. Corners of mouths start to turn up when they get in a groove. Even those who are smile challenged find themselves grinning. It’s the perfect group to see during this family oriented week.

68 years ago The Freshman were formed and began replacing barbershop quartets with their new sound. I was a fan of Stan Kenton, and he heavily influenced the young group. It was Stan Kenton who eventually gave them a shove on their way to becoming the top vocal group of the 50’s when he connected them with Capital Records. Capital didn’t promote them initially, so they took a bunch of demos and passed them out to radio stations in the greatest jazz town at the time, Detroit. They got plenty of air time, and in this jazz savvy city they found success.


Through the years the personnel has changed many times. Their sound is secure in the hands of the current group who might be the best set of musicians to date. More than just another vocal group, these are jazz musicians who sing. Though out their history most members of the Four Freshmen have played more than one instrument.


Pack up your gloom and bring your best smile to the Dog this week. Help us celebrate these two family gatherings with some good food, great jazz and a lot of smiles.

John Osler


Here are the Freshmen from one of their visits to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.






February 21 and 22







Straight Ahead  is a Detroit jazz ensemble and has a name that rings true for them.  They have gathered  a group that has  stayed on course. They have stayed true to each other while showing up and bringing it every night. This is what you can expect when you come out to see these Detroit musicians whose straight line has taken them around the world and straight back to the Dirty Dog.


For four nights we have a chance to scrap all our responsibilities and spend some time with family at the Dirty Dog.


February 23 and 24





These guys will cause you to smile so much that it will stretch your jaw muscles, making it easier to tackle the good sized portion of Dirty Dog cuisine.





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February 12, 2018



The whole world was beginning to experience an economic tsunami in 2008. In our corner of Michigan there was little traffic on the roads and even less traffic in upscale stores or restaurants. For most of us the mention of the year 2008 still sends chills up our spine. It was exactly at this moment in one of the hardest hit places in the world that the idea of a creating a jazz club in an upscale neighborhood was born. How it came about is such a good but sort of crazy Detroit story.





If you have been to the Dirty Dog you already know how the story ends. Most jazz artists proclaim that this is the best jazz club in the country and perhaps in the world. Customers try to keep it a secret so that they will find a place the next time they come. It has become a symbol of excellence in the delivery of music, food, service and smiles.


In 2018, after 10 years of respecting everyone who comes in the door they have established a refuge for kindred spirits. Here in a posh neighborhood where they consider a 60 foot elevation a hill and most streets have British names sits a magnet for a very diverse audience for America’s music, jazz. With its humble roots jazz still has the power to inform our souls. It has complexity and intensity and its appeal is growing. It is democratic, expansive and can be difficult to play. It thrives in the hearts of the curious.


The Dirty Dog Jazz Café remains the home for good jazz and good ideas.











Gretchen Valade                                 Tom Robinson


Andre Neimanis                                     Willie Jones



In 2008 Gretchen Valade was in a better place than a lot of Detroiters. She had property and wasn’t in danger of losing it. She just had to decide what to do with it. She asked a friend, Tom Robinson, who was helping her with some construction and then with the creation of Mack Avenue Records. They also wrote some music together. He never said “Start a jazz club”. No one did. Gretchen, however, didn’t hesitate to fulfill her passion to have her favorite music just down the street. She thought about the possibility to have her empty building serve good food and good jazz. Her answer was, “Why not?”. Gretchen as usual thought about what it would mean for others. This directive continues to keep the Dirty Dog moving in a positive direction. Tom has made Gretchen’s ideas work. Against all odds with trust and patience they have together stumbled on a pretty good plan. A plan that has lead to having a world class jazz club just down the street.




Success sometimes comes to those who just stumble on it.


Gretchen , once she had the vision for her place, had to make some key hires. She didn’t waste time. Why not get her favorite sous chef from down the street, Andre Neimanis. Why not?! With Andre on board she would need someone to run the front of the house. Well Andre had recently worked with  a pretty square guy for only two days. Those two days were enough, and Willie Jones, one of the city’s most respected restaurant managers, soon got the call to come and talk to two people with a far out dream.


He remembers his meeting well. Gretchen, hoping to give the project credibility, asked Willie if he knew about Mack Avenue. He thought that this was a curious question. He lived close to Mack Avenue. He said “of course I do.” Gretchen was referring to her jazz label, Mack Avenue Records and liked the answer. He was hired. Trying to find common ground, they found a common road. They have stayed on track ever since.






Do it really well


Respect the music


Treat everyone with dignity


Enjoy the experience





Tom Robinson would often roll his eyes at many of Gretchen’s impulsive decisions and then turn her visions into reality. Today we can see the results of an accumulation of Gretchen’s “Why nots?” and Tom’s “Let’s do it”. Her instinct to hire quality people has paid off. Chef Andre’s menu has won many awards, including Hour Magazine’s prestigious “Restaurant of the Year” award and twice was the magazine’s “Chef of the Year”.  The Dog’s success also stems from Willie Jones’ ability to pass on to the staff his work ethic. Willie is a proponent of everyone serving with “all eyes on everything”. The quality of every detail is everyone’s responsibility. Willie has a steady hand and a wry smile, just like jazz.


The Detroit Jazz Festival continues to grow in stature with Gretchen’s support and guidance. Mack Avenue Records, founded in 1998, just achieved eight Grammy nominations at the 60th Grammy Awards Jan. 28, 2018. This was the most of any independent label of any musical genre in a single year. Tom Robinson who is CEO of Mack Avenue said. “We had eight nominations in five categories,”  “In three of the categories we were competing against ourselves.”




Maybe they knew what they were doing


Throughout the life of the Café, Gretchen’s good natured spirit has guided the management, the staff and the music. Decency, listening and sharing have always  been the bulwarks of jazz. Using these strengths the Dirty Dog Jazz Café has becoming possibly the greatest jazz club in the world. Stumble on you Dirty Dog.


John Osler










It is appropriate that Dennis Coffey will be kicking off the second decade of music at the Dirty Dog. One of Detroit’s most legendary guitarists,  Dennis has been part of Detroit jazz’s  most important moments. He is also the right guy to lead us into new territory.

Come on out and find out where the music is heading.











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February 9, 2018




You know spring is right around the corner when we start talking up this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival which is now in its 39th year. It takes place, as usual, Labor Day weekend from Friday August 31 through Monday September 3, on multiple stages in downtown Detroit, including the Carhartt Amphitheater stage on Hart Plaza.





Photo by John Osler



The Dirty Dog’s Detroit Jazz Festival monthly jam sessions start up again on Monday 2/19 with new and emerging artists vying to play the festival while they audition during these weekly live opportunities.



The Detroit Jazz Festival and the Dirty Dog are excited about teaming up again for these special jam sessions designed to draw out and showcase some of the best new talent around.  These take place on the third Monday of each month from February 19 to June 18.





Saxophonist Chris Collins, who is also Detroit Jazz Festival’s Artistic Director and head of Wayne State’s Jazz Department

Photo by Jeff Dunn




Jam session partcipants are accompanied by the house band named the Detroit Jazz Festival All Stars. The leader is saxophonist Chris Collins who is not only the head of Wayne State’s Jazz department but also the Artistic Director of the Festival. The other band members are all accomplished Detroit notables who are all educators as well. See list below.



These special sessions are designed to promote Jazz to younger musicians since exposure and playing opportunities are the keys to inspiring the next generation Jazz artists. They provide opportunities to play in performance situations with some of our most esteemed and well established artists and educators.  The festival competition is open to musicians of all ages. To participate just show up at one of our upcoming jam sessions . See schedule below.



These jam sessions are the place to be for those interested in playing the Festival as Detroit Jazz Festival Artistic Director Chris Collins will be checking out the artists and Jazz Fest staff will be there to accept submissions “on the spot” from artists and ensembles to be considered for the 2018 Detroit Jazz Festival.



Jam Session House Bands: (Chris Collins in all house bands) will welcome musicians of all ages to join them on stage. They give participants the chance to play with seasoned players and educators most of whom are on the music faculties of the top universities in this area including, Wayne State, The University of Michigan, Michigan State, Oakland University and others.




Pianist Ian Finkelstein/ photo by John Osler



Mon. Feb 19 – Dwight Adams, Ian Finkelstein, Jeff Pedraz, Gayelynn McKinney
Mon. March 19 – Dwight Adams, Ian Finkelstein, Ralphe Armstrong, David Taylor



Where: The Dirty Dog Jazz Café, 97 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Farms, Mi., 313-882-5299


Time: 6:30 thru 9:30 (usually with a brief break in the middle)


Reminder: Artistic Director, Chris Collins will be there to check out talent; submissions can also be made at


These jam sessions are free and open to the public; seating is limited



The Dirty Dog is known all over the world as a “serious” Jazz club devoted to presenting high quality talent in a musical environment. The Dirty Dog presents a diverse blend of artists and group that represent the many different styles of Jazz performed by well known legends and new and emerging talent alike.  For a schedule of upcoming shows go to






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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February 5, 2018




It is February and spring is just around the corner. However, nobody has told the weatherman


It looks like Detroit will have high temperatures in the twenties this coming week, Your car and house windows will have an icy glaze that would scatter the suns rays  if only we had sunlight in February. This can be depressing.


Polar bear




Bears gather up some stuff and climb into holes for the winter.


Polar bear 2


Bears also tend  to be grumpy.



We do have some better choices. We are an active people and being holed up usually doesn’t fit our nature.







We need to get out. We don’t want to become grumpy and feel hemmed in, but we need a pretty good reason to leave our warm home and navigate the icy roads. We need to find a place that will get our juices flowing again. We need to get warm to our bones.


Just yards from where your car is left for the Dirty Dog Jazz Café’s complimentary valet parking  is one of the warmest places in town. The warmth comes  from the heating system, the music, the food, the pub like atmosphere and most of all a genuinely pleasant  staff.


On these cold winter evenings the Dirty Dog assembles a staff that has rid themselves of any winter blahs. These are the folks who will welcome their guests into  a serene and uplifting experience. This process begins long before any patrons shows up. The management sets the tone and their respect and good-natured work ethic is contagious.




I have had a chance to watch the staff prepare for an evening’s upbeat event. They go about their tasks with a great deal of independence and purpose. Tables were prepared while the kitchen started to hum. The service at the Dirty Dog is a team effort and so is the preparation. This kind of service is not an easy task, and success is not an  accident.  Gretchen, Tom, André, Willy and all the staff seem to like being around each other. The Dirty Dog is a warm place even before the guests arrive.


Once they get settled visitors to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café often find a smile sneaking across their faces, especially this week when Vincent Chandler’s music and good nature can be counted on to pick up their spirits.


Detroit gives talent a chance to shine. Come on in out of the cold.


John Osler




February 7 – 10





Vincent will probably arrive early to the Dirty Dog just to warm up a little. After that the only worry we will have is if he overheats the place. With his reputation he tends to attract some hot cats to play with him. There might be some customers shifting to cool drinks.






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February 2, 2018



Photo: John Osler


The Vincent Chandler Collective returns to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for a four-night residency, February 7-10 with two shows each night. He played with his band at the Dirty Dog in 2013 and more recently with the Detroit Jazz Festival All-stars, last fall.



As a special treat the VC Collective will perform a tribute to the music of “The Jazz Crusaders” while at the Dirty Dog next week. The “Jazz Crusaders” were a widely popular Jazz/Funk Fusion band formed in the 1960’s by Wilton Felder, Stix Hooper, Joe Sample, and Wayne Henderson. The group lasted well into the 1990’s.




Professor Vincent A. Chandler, is currently on the faculty at Wayne State University as Lecturer of Jazz Studies and Trombone.  Mr. Chandler earned his Bachelors of Fine Arts in Music and a Masters of Music in Improvisation from the University of Michigan.  Working in a university environment allows him to share his knowledge and expertise with the new generation of Jazz artists and to be exposed to new and emerging talent, and fresh musical ideas.



As a native Detroiter,  he was able to draw upon the rich Jazz community here as he became a protégé of such Detroit legends as Wendell Harrison, Donald Walden, Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney, Kenn Cox, Marion Hayden, James Carter, Geri Allen, Regina Carter and many others. These Detroit Jazz icons shaped and defined the world-famous Detroit Jazz sound they helped cultivate from the late 60’s onward.



Chandler is also respected and admired on the world Jazz stage. This is through his impressive work with such Jazz luminaries and style makers such as Herbie Hancock, Marcus Miller, Wynton Marsalis, Joe Henderson and Roy Hargrove –  all award-winning, major recording artists.



He is a featured soloist on “Requiem,” from Roy Hargrove’s only Big Band CD called “Emergence,” James Carter’s “At the Crossroads,” and Rodney Whitaker/Carl Allen’s “Work to Do.” In 2014 he released his first CD as a bandleader, called Vincent Chandler “Embraceable,” including Robert Hurst on Bass.



For more information on the Vincent Chandler Collective’s performances at the Dirty Dog, February 7-10, call 313-882-5299 or visit




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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January 30, 2018

I have lived a very comfortable life.  I am also pretty satisfied with what I have. I too often remain in my soft place and just get angry when things go wrong.


Then there are others who stand up and make a difference. Sometimes it isn’t easy.



Painting by William Hahn




One who goes before, as into the wilderness preparing the way for others to follow.








This past week Hugh Masekela, 78, died. During his life he tore up the jazz scene in South Africa and the USA with both his trumpet and with his voice against injustice. He never hesitated to venture down new paths and was definitely a pioneer of South African jazz. He was part of the be-bop sextet, The Jazz Epistles. This group broke new musical ground and attendance records in Cape Town.  Their success came to a screeching halt when the South African government banned public gatherings of more than 10 black people. The ban was put in place following the massacre of 69 protesters by police in a township near Johannesburg. Soon after black artists were forced underground Hugh Masekela  left for the USA and New York City. He never forgot the richness and the trials of his homeland, and his music remained rooted in both the discord and the sounds of Africa. He is quoted as saying, “I was marinated in jazz and I was seasoned in music from home”.


I remember hearing him play in a jazz concert in Detroit and then later when he was featured with Paul Simon and  Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the Graceland tour.


His song Bring Him Back Home made me aware of the struggle to free Nelson Mandela, who was languishing in a South African prison. Hugh Masekela  returned to live in South Africa in 1990 , the year Nelson Mandela was being freed and apartheid was ending.


He ventured out, clearing a way that made it easier for others.





Growing up in a somewhat rural suburb of Detroit I knew of the existence of Africa through Tarzan movies and later the Joseph Conrad novel, The Heart of Darkness . Africa was mostly referred to as the dark continent. It was a mysterious land that was accessible by snake filled rivers winding through dense jungles. At least to a young mind, that was the impression. Geography class brought some light, and then at some point I heard Miriam Makeba and Hugh Maskala’s powerfully emotional music. There were suddenly a lot of bells going off. There was a lot more to this world than I had known before.

To get to know a country and its people listen to the music and the musicians.








a Detroit clarinetist and saxophonist and jazz pioneer who at 75 is alive and thriving. Coming off his great January gig at the Dirty Dog,  he got the news this past week that he was the 2018 Kresge Eminent Artist. This is a lifetime achievement award with a $50,000 cash prize.


Detroit drummer Gayelynn McKinney, also  a member of the Kresge Arts in Detroit Advisory Council, had this to say, “Wendell is like the Energizer Bunny,”   “He never slows down. He’s always striving to learn more. All of us in my generation have learned a lot from him. He’s inspired me to go after what I want, and he instilled in us that you have a responsibility to pass along the information to those who come after you.”


Mostly known with preserving Detroit’s jazz legacy, Harrison had spent time in the thriving New York jazz scene before returning to Detroit. In New York he  performed with such impressive artists as Grant Green, Big Maybelle, and Sun Ra. Back in Detroit he co-founded Tribe, a record label and artist collective. Tribe documented our city’s freewheeling jazz sound and served as an outlet for the black political consciousness.






In 1971, when Wendell returned from New York he reconnected with Marcus Belgrave, Harold McKinney and trombonist Phil Ranelin. Together they.formed the Tribe record label and artist collective. The group also included drummer and composer Doug Hammond, pianist Kenny Cox, trumpeter Charles Moore, pianist David Durrah, and bassist Ron Brooks. These Detroit stalwarts in Tribe started a new dialog in the jazz community and didn’t hesitate to address social change.


Tribe took on a broader community focus with the publication of Tribe magazine, which  explored subjects such as economic injustice, school busing, abortion and police brutality.


“I’m just trying to carry on the tradition,” Harrison said in the news release. “I’m trying to represent the high caliber of artists from Detroit dedicated to jazz improvisation.”



Wendell Harrison, 75, is still searching to find the African roots in the rhythms of Detroit jazz. He has new realms to explore. Pioneers just don’t stop being pioneers.


Like Wendell says,It’s been a long journey — sometimes challenging but sometimes very rewarding,” Congratulations Wendell.


I am struck by the similar paths that these two pioneers have taken. Both have been great musicians, social activists, seekers of truth and ceaseless pioneers in jazz.


Every day jazz musicians around Detroit pack up their gear and head out into the night to their gigs, sometimes into the known and sometimes into the unknown. They may be playing standards with a well practiced group one day and then breaking new ground  the next day. Regardless, jazz artists always have something to say. We listen a little more intently when they push the envelope and pioneer new ideas.


John Osler




Jan 31 – Feb 3





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.




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January 24, 2018


Jason Marsalis / Photo: Chicago Tribune




Jason Marsalis & the 21st Century Trad Band is on tour this month in support of their new release, “Melody Reimagined, Book 1”. Jason and the band are including the Dirty Dog in their tour and are performing this Friday and Saturday, January 26 and 27, with two shows each night.



Composer, pianist, drummer, vibest, and percussionist, Jason Marsalis, is a member of the musically talented Marsalis family from New Orleans and is the younger brother of fellow Jazz musicians Branford (saxophone), Wynton (trumpet), and Delfeayo (trombonist) among other family members.



Marsalis studied percussion at Loyola University and performed with a variety of bands early on including Jazz, Funk, Fusion, and a Brazilian percussion ensemble. He then branched out with Detroit percussionist, Bill Summers and trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and created the popular Latin Jazz group, Los Hombres Calientes, and also worked the great pianist, Marcus Roberts.



The multi-talented, Jason Marsalis, will be playing a variety of instruments from the percussion family on the Dirty Dog stage this weekend. These include drums, piano, misc. percussion, and of course, vibes, one of the instruments he is best known for.







Although it was invented around 1920, this electrically powered instrument is related to the balafon and marimbas, which have ancient roots in Central Africa going back nearly a millennium or more.



The balafon has wooden slats or keys that rest on top of gourded resonators. The marimba’s ancestor is a type of balafon that Africans brought to Central America around the 16th century and was used by the Mayans in festivals and religious ceremonies. These instruments were actually early keyboards and influenced the creation of the piano, xylophone and other melodically based percussion instruments.



The vibraphone is considered the first electronic instrument which began introducing “other worldly” sounds and special effects to various genres of music from Jazz and Classical to movie soundtracks. The vibraphone’s sound comes from tuned metal bars or slats that are struck with felt or wool mallets that make its soft, mellow tone quality.



The Dirty Dog Jazz Café has hosted many world-class, award-winning vibraphonists over the past few years including Roy Ayers, Warren Wolf, and Mr. Marsalis.



Some significant Jazz vibes players were from Detroit including the legendary Milt Jackson of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Terry Pollard, and Jack Brokensha, among others.


For more information on Jason Marsalis at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, call 313-882-5299 or visit






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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January 23, 2018









Most Wednesdays at the Dirty Dog you can find Judy Adams sitting at the end of the bar in probably the best spot in the place to see everything that is going on. Often she will be sitting alongside the club’s proprietor Gretchen Valade who also has figured out how best to experience jazz. Judy will turn her bar stool so that she doesn’t miss a thing. That is part of Judy’s DNA. That probably explains why Judy remains one of the most knowledgeable witnesses of the music of Detroit. She has influenced and encouraged many of the artists who come to the Dirty Dog and continues to be involved in Detroit’s music.


When the set ends the musicians make a first stop at the end of the bar to share a hug with Judy. This is an act of friendship and respect. Judy has the ability to document the music scene because of the trust that she has in the community.








I have to confess that I am a bit intimidated by Charles Boles. He towers over me when I am in his presence. Maybe not physically, but he has an aura of knowing what he is doing.. His natural composure is that of a relaxed and confident prankster.


The confidence comes from experience and hard work. He is a product of Detroit’s black bottom neighborhood, which was a cauldron of creative jazz artists. Charles is eighty- some years old now and has benefited from a lifetime of playing with great musicians. It shows in his playing. He has earned the respect of other musicians and those lucky enough to hear him live in a small club.


To better understand Charles I would recommend getting his Detroit Music Factory CD release Blue Continuum and listen to the cut Liz. Charles’ piano expresses a quiet reverence for his late mother Elizabeth. His fingers are placed on the keys with the single purpose to show respect and love for his mother. We can also hear in the song the playfulness and freedom that he was allowed as a child. As a child he was encouraged to play. And play he does.


Charles cd


Charles plays with his quartet every Tuesday night at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café from 6PM until 9 PM.





Charles  sits at his piano and plays great music. Sometimes I think he is having too  good a time. He can also be downright serious. His friends go along with him and together they go to some remarkable places with their music.


DSC_7957  _DSC9602  Dirty Dog 01 08 09 009  _DSC4781_DSC4779  _DSC9718


The set was over and the band started to pack up their gear. Barely heard over the rising sounds of conversations was the sound of the Steinway. I looked and I didn’t see anyone. Crouched over and hidden from view was the diminutive figure of Charles Bolles. I hung around close to the piano and was treated to some music from one of Detroit’s most sensitive musicians. His subdued  playing didn’t disguise the skill and touch of a master.


Later I asked Charles what the heck he was doing at the piano after playing  a whole evening of jazz, . He explained that he was playing for himself on an exceptional instrument, a private pleasure. The Dirty Dog  Steinway is special, as is Charles.  Charles has a light touch and a purity of expression that comes from his years of experience. Time has  taught him to skip extraneous flourishes. Every note and chord is important, making the piano more important. They are well matched.


We sometimes take for granted those unique gifts that are in our lives, especially the quiet moments like the lake on a still night or Charles on the Steinway, They are  welcome departures from  the loud and annoying intrusions that more often get our attention.


Charles is a treat to talk to. His music is derived from his life experiences, and he is willing to share. Beware – his smile and the twinkle in his eye are infectious.


One of the genuine treats is to watch Judy and Charles engage. These two diminutive friends have a rare opportunity to look directly into each other’s eyes. They must think that they are looking in a mirror. Warm twinkling eyes full of life and warmth facing off with one another. These two have gravitated to the Dirty Dog probably because there is always a good chance of running into some pretty nice people.


John Osler




January 24 – January 25





Skeeto Valdez will bring his unbounded energy and uplifting smile for two days to the Dirty dog. Wear your most comfortable shoes for tapping.


January 26 – January 27



Jason Marsalis’ vibe quartet


With each passing year Jason Marsalis continues to grow and develop as both a composer and performer. With a fire in his heart and a passion for the music, his will to swing has never been more resolute. The maturity and the command he possesses over his music is clearly evident to those who have heard or seen him.








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January 22, 2018





Guitarist, composer Julian Lage is part of the new generation of Jazz artists breathing new sounds and influences into the art form. He continues to bring us his own brand of Jazz and/or creative music on his new album “Modern Lore”. The title is quite appropriate because Lage’s music is both very modern and traditional. It also has a bit of “lore” as it contains hidden musical stories from yesterday, today and tomorrow.






Wiki Photo


Lage has collaborated with a diverse list of artists including Gary Burton, Bela Fleck, Nels Cline, David Grisman and Yoko Ono. Hailed as a guitar prodigy, Julian was the subject of the academy award nominated film “Jules at Eight”.



The new album features his acclaimed trio with Scott Calley on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums and vibraphone, with special guests that include Tyler Chester on keyboards, and producer Jesse Harris on maracas, Casio and acoustic guitar.






Photo: New York Times



In “Modern Lore” Lage pays tribute to vintage rock sounds of the mid-20th century, when the electric guitar began to define this emerging genre that grew out of folk forms with origins in Africa, Central America and northern Europe.



Hence the music is tainted with elements of the Blues, Country and Western, Rockabilly, and Jazz, with his guitar virtuosity shining through the entire release.








The Jazz influence is heard in his improvised flow of cross generational ideas built upon traditional forms spiced with non-traditional chords and rhythmic figures.



He’s such a complete musician that he makes it all work. Combining excellent playing with emotive expression and well-constructed music ideas that are easily accessible.





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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January 15, 2018





My mother’s voice was always calm and soothing. She took time from her life to read to me. I still can curl up inside the memory of her pleasantness and the choice of her words.


My father had less time for extended warm moments. His voice was firm, authoritarian and final. It was also loving because he was loving which was reflected in his choice of words.


Martin Luther King Jr came along and just reinforced my appreciation for the spoken and written word.


Every year we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr Day. Years after his tragic death we continue to honor the man and his words.




 “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”


If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”


“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”


“No one really knows why they are alive until they know what they’d die for.”


“…the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.”


“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”


I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.”


We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”


No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”


“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”


“Lightning makes no sound until it strikes.”


“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”


“If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” 


Martin Luther King Jr had many gifts. He seemed to see truths clearly. He fearlessly shared these truths  and directed us to take action.  How the heck did one man seem to know so much and also have such eloquence?


Martin Luther King Jr was challenged every day of his life, as many of his messages were inconvenient. Others dismissed him for being an inappropriate messenger. He may never be accepted by some, but the words that he chose will survive for many Martin Luther King Days to come.








Dr. Martin Luther King’s opening address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:


God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.


Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.


This is triumphant music.


Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.


It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.


Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.


And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.


In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.


Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for Faith. In music, especially that broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone to all of these.  







When Martin Luther King gave his speech on the Washington mall he used the phrase, “now’s the time” which rings as true now as it did then. He found this command in the music of Charlie Parker. Dr King was criticized for his urgency to affect change. He, however, felt that those suffering from injustice deserved justice now.





“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”  MLK


“We have flown the air like birds and swum the sea like fishes, but have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”  MLK


John Osler






January 17 – January 20








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