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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.
July 24, 2017




Looking at a healthy plant or tree we don’t always see their roots. Only when you try and uproot a tree or pick a flower do you realize how powerful the connection there is between any  plant and its roots.


For decades Detroiters have been buoyed up by the great  artists who have hung around and shared their gifts with their neighbors. They have kept our spirit and blood moving. Maybe it is because there has been  a constant source of opportunity for our young musicians  in our churches. It is an inspiration that continues all their lives. Our young artists have early exposure to stories of enduring adversity and good people rising to challenges. Detroit’s ability to keep moving on shows up in the power of the  music we hear today. We can listen to the rich story telling and the loyalty to the beat when we sit down for an evening of jazz. Detroit’s roots are many and go deep.


For all of my life I have been puzzled by the brave passivity of those under siege. People who can’t seem to be heard yet remain quiet and calm. That is until they speak. This makes their message so powerful when it comes out . They challenge violence with gentleness and tragedy with forgiving. Often it is the result of the cumulative experiences and messages that are deeply embedded in the heart of generations of church goers. We hear it in the music.


In a New Yorker article about the tragic shooting at Mother Emanuel Methodist Church in Charleston, by David Remnick,  James Campbell, a ninety year old Charleston citizen told David:


“That memory is almost genetic, the DNA of the community, and I don’t think it manifests itself in rage. it manifests itself in the resolute patience of a long-suffering people. And their determination is expressed through the permanency of the church. That may wear thin with some of the younger people, but it will be a while before you see it change.”




The permanency of churches is dependent on the next generation, as is the future of jazz. The root for Detroit’s most important music has always been jazz and the soil that jazz has sprung from has certainly been enriched by the our churches. Part of the message from our churches has been to persevere and to teach the next guys. This continues to happen.


When Detroit jazz fans leaf through my photos in the book Detroit Jazz I hear a constant “Oh, they go to/play at my church”.   This tipped me off that the church is still an important catalyst in keeping the music on track for some time.







This week Alvin Waddles brings his many talents into the Dirty Dog for, thankfully, four nights of music. This group will convince you that the local music hasn’t wavered  in giving us  hard driving, free swinging music that we know is true to its roots.


Alvin will swing into the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this week. Alvin in old English means elf friend, making Alvin’s parents a little prophetic. Alvin does have an elfin twinkle in his eye when he performs. He has enormous talent that he uses with grace. For many Detroiters he is the friendly face of jazz.


Alvin’s musical career is a Detroit story which means that there is a generous and gifted teacher that showed up at the right time. For Alvin it was Mrs.Gusseye Dickey who took the gifted 8 year old Alvin under her wing. Alvin says that it was Mrs. Dickey that first instilled in him his life-long love of classical music. Alvin has taken his early lessons at Cass Technical High School, the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan School of Music and added his rich Detroit culture to become a multi talented master musician.


Alvin is in demand as much for his voice as his explosive piano. Alvin has never stopped expanding his horizons. He has brought his unique gifts to many diverse Detroit events and organizations including The Detroit Jazz Festival, The Detroit Opera House, Detroit Music Hall, Ann Arbor and Detroit schools, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. New Bethel Church, Hope United Methodist Church, the New Millennium Choral, the Fats Waller Revue, numerous theatrical productions and wherever else a vibrant artist was needed.


In 2003 Alvin received the Detroit Musician’s Association award for excellence. He has also been a soloist and featured artist around the world playing gigs in Barbados, Beijing, Paris, Barcelona and Ghana, West Africa.






Next month Detroit’s Chris Codish will be featured on the Hammond B3 organ. On August 23 and August 24 he will likely bring his Hammond with him, which isn’t an easy task. It is heavy and clumsy looking. does make a difference. Chris will always be true to the music, which makes him a busy guy, but he still has had time on each Sunday for over 18 years to be the organist/keyboardist at the God Land Unity Church in Detroit. Chris’ commitment is a familiar story in Detroit’s music community. Chris has serious roots in the music and the arts.


Here are some quotes from Chris:


“I have nothing against technique and dexterity, I’m always working on gaining more myself and I acknowledge and appreciate the time and dedication it takes to play fast tempos, passages, etc. But PLEASE don’t sacrifice emotion, feeling, expression and interaction in the pursuit of being “the baddest cat.” It’s an empty goal. Make music that moves people and gives them something they “need” even if they don’t know it.”


” I was able to play two really fine Steinway pianos at both Cliff Bell’s and at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. I can hear the difference. Time and time again it seems that the people who I really enjoy listening to are also very genuine, diversely educated, warm and engaging and this often comes through in their music and even beyond that in their personal presence. You could say I enjoy those who have cultivated their human side and allow it to permeate their music.”


“The best improvisers, performers and entertainers are those who actually take the music somewhere and thereby bring the band and the audience with them.”


“That’s what I believe we need to be striving for as musicians and performers. Engaging the music, your band members, the audience, and the space you’re in at the moment. Can you hear the difference? Have you listened?”


Come on out to the Dirty Dog this week and you will hear the difference. It’s in the roots.

John Osler











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July 21, 2017

Alphabetical order: Artist(s) / Title / Label*




Werktekeningen CD-DVD verpakkingen DPACK 6PAGE


TK Blue / Amour / Dot Time



Talib Kibwe is a band leader, composer and saxophonist who also plays flute, various African thumb pianos such as the mbira, sanza, and lukembi and other traditional instruments. Born in New York into Trinidadian and Jamaican heritage, he now resides in Paris, hence the French album title “Amour”. His music certainly reflects his diverse cultural background as it blends Jazz with world music. This can be heard in the scales, harmonies and rhythms he uses as well as instrumentation.



Over the years he’s played with such Jazz luminaries as Chico Hamilton, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jaki Byard, Billy Mitchell and others. He also serves as Music Director and arranger for Dr. Randy Weston.



When TK Blue performed selections from “Amour” at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe recently, the audience really enjoyed it. Some commented on how gentle and meditative it was and especially in pieces utilizing African percussion. All in all, folks agreed that TK’s music takes you to a “good place”.



“Amour” is his eleventh release as a leader and features many well known guest artists on its eleven tracks including Warren Wolf, piano/vibes, Roland Guerrero, percussion, Winard Harper, drums, Gregoire Maret, harmonica, and Etienne Charles, trumpet.



T.K.Blue will perform as a special guest for the Detroit Jazz Festival Jam Session on Friday Sept 2nd at the Detroit Marriot Renaissance Ballroom.







Roscoe Mitchell / Bells for the South Side / ECM


Roscoe Mitchell is out with a new double-CD recorded live at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art at a special event and exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Mitchell was a founding member of both organizations that supported improvisational Jazz, outside of the mainstream, that explored alternative directions in the idiom. The new release carries those musical and personal philosophies into the present day.



One of the most respected and productive figures in avant-garde Jazz, innovative instrumentalist, composer and educator, Roscoe Mitchell, brings together nine artists from four of his groups, which he writes and performs with. These artists include two long-time collaborators who are acclaimed Detroit musicians, Tani Tabbal (originally from Chicago and now residing in New York), drummer, and bassist Jaribu Shahid known for their work with the legendary space-Jazz band Griot Galaxy, formed in Detroit in the early 1970’s by the late Faruq Z. Bey and others, and heavily influenced by the AACM and the Art Ensemble.







Songhoy Blues / Bamako / Fat Possum Records


Formed in 2012, this award-winning Malian band from the ancient desert city of Timbuktu, was forced to leave their homes during the recent civil conflict there. They relocated to the capitol of Mali, Bamako, where they started getting a lot more exposure leading to their upcoming, ambitious North American tour this Fall.



They combine traditional with modern instrumentation and compositional elements drawing on Funk, Blues, Hip Hop, R&B, Soul and centuries old Malian folk/dance forms. Their music is full of energy and emotion. With the title track “Bamako”, lead vocalist, Aliou Toure says “we just wanted to write something fun and positive about where we come from. So much of what people hear about Africa is negative; bad news stories about war and famine just dominate the common image of Africa.”



The new release, which is their second album, speaks positively about their country, lovingly talking about the beauty of the Sahara and active music scene in Bamako. Detroit’s own Iggy Pop is a guest vocalist on “Sahara” which seems a bit out of place but he somehow makes it work.



*This playlist reflects Judy Adams’ personal recommendations and does not represent those of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe or Mack Avenue Records.





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, 2017





Jazz is a music that rose out of conditions that could have brought us some pretty dreary dirges. Instead, because of the spirit of those who pioneered jazz it has become probably our most uplifting music.  Even the blues leave you feeling good. I remember listening to the message on many Saturday nights that “The blues is all right.” It is certainly true that this is music that can lift your spirit and make you smile. Every year at this time we celebrate this fact by proclaiming this coming week as SMILE WEEK.






If, when asked, “How is your day going?’, and  your answer is, ” I’ve had better days.”, maybe you should stop by the Dirty Dog. Bring your smile. We are celebrating SMILE WEEK all week at the Dirty Dog. The band and the staff have been practicing good nature expressions and broad approving grins


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 year’s Four Freshmen’s stint celebrating smile week.


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 smile week.


67 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 with some good food, great jazz and a lot of smiles.


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





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ALVIN WADDLES Champion smiler


Next  week we will have four days of of  smile conditioning exercises when Alvin Waddles brings his team of joy filled trainers to the Dirty Dog Jazz Club.  You will notice all the joyous faces of not only the audience but also the band. The Dirty Dog will keep the air conditioning on to counter the warm feelings  you get as you watch Alvin and his band  have such a good time on the job.


All the smiling will stretch your jaw muscles making it easier to tackle the good sized portion of Dirty Dog cuisine.


John Osler










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July 15, 2017







National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master award Recipient: Wayne Shorter


Saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter is this year’s Artist-In-Residence at the Detroit Jazz Festival. He’s known for playing with some of the most important style makers of modern Jazz from Art Blakey and John Coltrane to Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and the band Weather Report. Looking back over his stellar career we can definitely add Mr. Shorter to this list of influential instrumentalists and style makers.



The saxophone is considered one of the most important melodic instruments in Jazz. Playing a melodic instrument such as the saxophone gave him an opportunity to use his special gift as a supreme “melody maker”. He is equally known for his virtuosic playing and improvisational abilities as he is for his work as a prolific composer whose compositions have become some of the most played standards in modern Jazz.



These include the piece Footprints, which is one of the most covered compositions in contemporary Jazz. It first appeared in 1966 on his 10th release “Adam’s Apple” with him on tenor saxophone, Herbie Hancock, piano, Reginald Workman on bass and Joe Chambers, drums. It was also recorded the same year with Miles Davis second great quintet with Shorter again on tenor, Herbie Hancock, piano, Ron Carter, bass and Tony Williams on drums.



Both versions could not be any more different. It was more like “Miles Apart”.
These were experimental times in Jazz as it began absorbing the changes happening in music with the fusing of Jazz with Rock, Funk, World, Folk and other emerging popular idioms. Instrumentation changed with the additions of louder, amplified instruments such as guitars, and bass, often treated with special effects.






These changes began and can be heard in the music of both Miles Davis and Weather Report from late 1960s into the early 1970s. Both groups were highly influential and hosted Wayne Shorter who became an important voice during this period. Both groups were experimenting with fusion early on.



This important historical transition for Jazz is strikingly evident as you listen to these two versions of Footprints. Both are equally beautiful but the “Adam’s Apple” version feels like it is from a different tradition. Each player is a distinct individual while the Miles’ version shows how the artists are beginning to fuse into one voice, one sound – a more collective approach. We hear them exploring global styles, modes, cultures. A sign of the approaching times.



Ron Carter’s bass line is tinged with Latin affectations, Tony Williams’ drums are creating hypnotic splashes and textures, quoting hints from ancient cultures. Wayne Shorter and Miles are harmonizing the melodic line while experimenting with different modal designs. Listen and compare these two versions of Footprints, both recorded in 1966. A clear picture of how much Jazz was progressing during the mid-1960’s due to such composers and improvisers as Wayne Shorter.



Wayne Shorter’s earlier version of Footprints from his 1966 release “Adam’s Apple”






Miles Davis’s version played by his second great quintet which includes Miles Davis, trumpet, Wayne Shorter again on tenor, Herbie Hancock, piano, Ron Carter, bass and Tony Williams on drums.





Speaking of improvisation. Mr. Shorter is a master at improvisation which goes hand in hand with being an master composer as improvisation means composing “in real time” as we explored in a recent “Jazz Notes”.





This was very evident when I had a chance to hear Mr. Shorter with his quartet at Orchestra Hall a couple of years ago with Danilo Perez, piano, John Patitucci, bass and Brian Blade on drums. It was one of the most intuitive bands I have ever heard as they played group improvisations for most of the evening. The music was complex and unique but accessible at the same time. This band will be opening the Detroit Jazz Festival this year.


Other compositions of Wayne Shorter that have become standards within the repertoire include:


Infant Eyes
Ponte De Areia
Witch Hunt
Oriental Folk Song
Mysterious Traveler
and many more.



Mr. Shorter draws from a wide palette of colors, textures and cultural influences with no two songs sounding alike. Writing effective, engaging and memorable melodies is a true art form. Wayne Shorter is a rare talent and a true master.


He performs each day of the four-day festival which is free.


For complete information go to






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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July 10, 2017

MILES DAVIS                                               Photo: Tom Polumbo




We all know how important it is to get along with others, especially if you can’t reach your goal  with just  your own limited abilities. There are those who assume to know enough to go it alone. They cross the Atlantic in a small boat in the wrong season all by themselves, except they probably do have  a colleague standing by at the radio in case they need help. I think that it is probably better to take that friend along.


Jazz teaches us that it is better to have friends right along side you on the bandstand. A true adventure needs a good support crew, shared cause and shared rewards. Going it alone allows one to have complete control, but often leads to playing the same tune over and over. The novelty eventually wears off.




Having a common purpose and making it easy for the group to stay on course are qualities that I keep seeing work in successful jazz groups. In the future we hope to begin to see a little more common purpose by the rest of us.



Here are some ingredients that help friends make great music together:




Collegiality is the relationship between colleagues, who are those explicitly united in a common purpose and respecting each other’s abilities to work toward that purpose. This is the trait that I keep seeing in the jazz artists.




Camaraderie is a spirit of good friendship and loyalty among members of a group. You might not like your job, but still enjoy the camaraderie of the people you work with.




People who have the quality of congeniality have a gift for getting along with others. They are warm, friendly, and probably well-suited to serve on welcoming committees.



Friendliness is the capability of existing or performing in harmonious or congenial combination


Someone who comes to mind with these qualities is Sean Dobbins.






Sean Dobbins brought his good nature along with his quintet into the Dirty Dog Jazz Café one week last year . When Sean introduced the band he pointed out that one of the five great musicians, the trombonist, Mike Dease, would be playing with the quintet for the first time. He kindly announced  how privileged he felt playing  with him.  Out of the gate the band ‘s cohesive sound concealed any unfamiliarity. They looked like they were having fun as they traded ideas and smiles. How the heck is this done? How does a musician step in and mesh so seamlessly? I have for some time been curious about how jazz musicians carry this off. Is the music that simple? It wasn’t that night. Had they spent days or weeks playing together to prepare for this evening?  I think that didn’t happen.


Most often Sean’s groups consist of musicians that front their own bands. A bunch of leaders. They understand the process, and they know that under Sean’s leadership the music will be  demanding and complex. They will be playing music that is definitely not off the shelf and not all that simple to play.



Marion Hayden                          Mike Dease


I got a possible answer during a conversation with the group’s bassist, Marion Hayden. She mentioned two reasons it works ; musicianship and collegiality. She informed me of Mike’s credentials and his command of his instrument. He came prepared to contribute.

Marion smiled when she discussed both Sean’s and Mike’s collegiality.


Not everyone with talent has a bubbly personality. Some talented artists can show:




Churlishly rude or bad-tempered:sullen, uncivil, brusque, irascible, splenetic, choleric, cross; grumpy, grouchy, crabby. unfriendly, hostile, irritable: threatening, malevolent, menacing,  threatening






Picasso’s gift as an artist was his intensity and his love of everything he did. He was not a team player and he remained a soloist and the “disquieting” Spaniard with the “sombrepiercing” eyes  his entire life.




Stern and admitting of no appeasement or compromise, of a sinister or ghastly character, having a harsh, surly, forbidding, or morbid air, fierce, savage






Miles Davis lived life with a directness and fierceness that could be offsetting. He also was a gifted collaborator who formed bonds with his fellow musicians that changed jazz. He shared a common purpose with those he played with, which is an essential part of collegiality. He learned to play with muted pain.


When an interviewer asked him: “Don’t you find yourself alone up here?”


Miles replied: “Uh-uh. Not with the musicians I work with. They end up being your best friends. If I ever leave a will it’s not gonna be to my relatives, it’s to the people I function around best. You’re around musicians all the time. You’re not alone.”


Collegial is defined as: with authority or power shared equally among colleagues.


In a band of strong individuals collegiality is essential to success. It doesn’t mean that confident talented artists have to reign it in, it means that they are free to go with it. Luckily for us this is  a common trait in  jazz musicians, especially among equals.. Every week I learn something new from the very talented collegial folk at the Dirty Dog.


John Osler




JULY 12- JULY 15






Gene Dunlap will bring his talent and grace to the Dirty Dog. He brings the force of Miles Davis with the congeniality that allows Detroit jazz to be so free wheeling.




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July 7, 2017






It was less than two weeks ago that we heard the shocking news that we lost internationally acclaimed Detroit born, Jazz pianist, Geri Allen, at age 60 due to complications from cancer. The word spread fast with musicians here in Detroit and around the world expressing not only their sadness,  but their deep appreciation for the musical gifts she shared with us during brilliant career.



Guitarist Vernon Reid said on Twitter, that “Geri Allen advanced the position of women in Jazz and creative music for REAL”. He called her an “inspiration for original voices”.



Iconic Detroit bassist, Ralphe Armstrong, told the Detroit Free Press that “Geri Allen was the female Herbie Hancock on the piano”. He said he knew Allen from the age of 14 years old when they were students at Cass Technical High School – a school with a legacy as a hotbed for Jazz talent. “She played with the greatest Jazz artists and she also used the same rhythm section Miles Davis used –  fellow Cass Tech grad and bassist Ron Carter and Tony Williams” – two of the most influential and celebrated musicians in Jazz.  “For that rhythm section to play with you”, says Armstrong, “you’ve got to be one of the elites”.










Ms. Allen had a very prolific career which includes an impressive discography of having appeared on over 150 recordings and performing with a diverse list of legendary artists from Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Buster Williams, Don Cherry, Bobby Hutcherson and Wayne Shorter to Kenny Garrett, Ornette Coleman, Vernon Reid, James Carter, Meshell Ndegeocello, Cassandra Wilson, Carl Craig and her husband, trumpeter Wallace Roney.



She was also a loyal contributor to the Detroit music community and played and recorded with some of its most creative, contemporary artists including Rayse Biggs, Robin Eubanks, Wendell Harrison, Dave McMurray, Jaribu Shahid, Tani Tabbal, Shahida Nuralah, Sadiq Bey and many others. For a complete list of her recordings and those she’s performed with go to



Besides being a pianist, composer, performer, wife and mother, Ms. Allen was an educator and was an Associate Professor of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation at the School Of Music Theatre & Dance, at the University of Michigan, and as of 2013, had been Associate Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.



Her extensive Classical and Jazz training and degree in Ethnomusicology were evident in her music and playing virtuosity.
She was a true piano master whose style was characterized by an immense understanding of the piano itself. It was commonplace for her to ornament her performances with long, intricate arpeggios that spanned with width of the keyboard. She would also utilize her knowledge of world music by playing repeated dance-like rhythmic figures and scales and modes quoting various cultures around the world – giving her work a reason to listen more closely. She was like great chef who knew the perfect way to season a dish.


During the past few years she primarily performed with her group, the ACS Trio,  which included drummer Terri Lyne Carrington, and bassist Esperanza Spalding.  We’re sorry to miss hearing Ms. Allen at the Detroit Jazz Festival again this Labor Day weekend. She and her trio, were invited participate in one of Wayne Shorter’s special artist collaborations. Shorter is the festival’s Artist In Residence for 2017. The quintet was also supposed to include keyboardist Leo Genovese.




The ACS Trio performing at the 2013 Portland Jazz Festival.

Photo: Brent Wojahn, The Oregonian


During our nearly three years of doing the Jazz Notes blog, we mentioned Geri Allen many times, whether it was our piece on the famous grads from Cass Tech, or our blog on Women in Jazz. Here’s an excerpt from last year’s birthday tribute where we shared a quote from her describing her many accomplishments in her own words:



“I am a pianist/composer/educator, Guggenheim Fellow, and new Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. I received the very first Lady of Soul Award for jazz, and was also the first woman, and youngest person to receive the Danish “Jazz Par Prize.” My work is featured in The Lisa Gay Hamilton Peabody Award winning film, Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, and on Andy Bey’s Grammy nominated American Song.



“I received an NAACP Image Award nomination in 2011 and also performed in A Theatrical & Musical Celebration Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., MLK: A Monumental Life, for the statue unveiling in Washington, D.C.  I served as musical director for the Mary Lou Williams Collective.


I released a series of solo piano driven recordings between 2008 and 2013: Flying Toward The Sound, A Child Is Born, and Grand River Crossings. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Jacques Lacombe, commissioned Stones and Streams, an original work to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Stones and Streams was performed as a part of the NJSO’s Gala Celebration in September 2013. Since that time my compositions have been featured on two Grammy Winning CD’s by Terri Lyne Carrington and Dianne Reeves, and I continue to teach, perform and compose.”





This 2013 release was a tribute to Motown and included appearances by Marcus Belgrave and David McMurray.



I first met Ms. Allen in the early 80’s backstage at the DIA where she was performing. One of her mentors, drummer Roy Brooks, introduced us, telling me to watch out for this up and coming pianist who was a true genius of a musician.  Since then I had the opportunity to see her perform many times – hearing her musical genius grow on each occasion.





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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July 5, 2017


The United States of America is a young country and a work in progress. It is always exciting to be part of a something that is  trying to figure out what it’s going to be.






Steve Goodman asks this question in his great song City of New Orleans . 






America’s music in 2017 is showing the world its best face. Country music is sharing the stage with hip hop, jazz is blended with electronic, zydeco accordion is inserted into funky renditions of  standard tunes, etc. etc. Everything is possible and everything is accepted and everything is added. Layers are being placed on top of layers, creating magnificent wholes. Musicians are respecting other musicians’ stories and finding ways to make someone else’s ideas better. This is a surefire formula for greatness.


MUSIC IN AMERICA continues to follow the examples of our brilliant founders, who asked us to be:












“Jazz is about freedom within discipline, usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Nazi Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.” Dave Brubeck




” Jazz is a very democratic musical form. It comes out of a communal experience. We take our respective instument and collectively create a thing of beauty.” Max Roach



“The bottom line of any country is, ‘What did we contribute to the world?’ ….We contributed Louis Armstrong.”  Tony Bennett



Louis Armstrong always claimed he was born on the fourth of July and celebrated his birthday on the holiday.

Louis said: “If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know.”

Here he is with the national anthem.




Wynton Marsalis ” As long as there is democracy, there will be people wanting to play jazz because nothing else will ever so perfectly capture the democratic process in sound. Jazz means working things out musically with other people. You have to listen to other musicians and play with them even if you don’t agree with what they’re playing. It teaches you that the world is big enough to accommodate us all.”



Here is Wynton’s brother Saxophonist Branford Marsalis







 Photo by Rob Davidson



Geri Antoinette Allen was born June 12, 1957 in Pontiac, Mich.  Her father, Mount V. Allen, Jr., was a principal in the Detroit public school system. Deeply rooted in Detroit, she was encouraged to take up the piano at age 7, she went on to graduate from Cass Technical High School and importantly she also became  a protégée of Detroit  trumpeter Marcus Belgrave,


Allen was a  virtuoso pianist who played with some of jazz’s greatest rhythm sections, As NPR wrote: “She was a musical partner with prodigious ears, motivated by the percussive energy of the avant-garde, the elusive unified spark of straight-ahead swing and the expressive truth of piano balladry”.


 Geri’s legacy is assured through her recorded music and  her passion for passing on her gifts as a teacher. She taught for 10 years at the University of Michigan and was the  artistic director of the Carr Center in downtown Detroit.
Detroit will miss Geri Allen who was a friend and a partner as well as being recognized as one of jazz’s most  influential  musicians.


The Dirty Dog will not be open this week so they can celebrate the birthday of our country. There will be a break in the music, giving the staff some deserved time off after so many consecutive big acts. Gene Dunlap will bring the place back to life on Wednesday July 12 through July 16. The Dirty Dog wishes you a glorious holiday. Enjoy and be safe.


John Osler








JULY 12 – JULY 16




The fireworks will continue as Gene Dunlap brings a genuine mix of old and new ideas that will keep our spirits flying.


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June 27, 2017





Photo by R.J. Spangler



Michael Zaporski is a Detroit pianist, composer, arranger and educator who performs on the beautiful Steinway grand at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe this week (June 28-July 1). He is known for his work with his band “Future Visions” and the “Planet D Nonet” led by R.J. Spangler. “Future Visions” is an outgrowth of the “Visions” band led by the late Detroit saxophonist Sam Sanders, where Zaporski was a member of for many years.



Sam Sanders’s “Visions” band traveled to West Africa where they not only performed but also taught Jazz through the U.S. State Department. Under this specially sponsored program, Sanders and his band, (including pianist Michael Zaporski) played long side some of the top names in Jazz including innovative major recording artists such as drummer Art Blakey, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Jackie McLean and trumpeter Donald Byrd.



Their time in West Africa also enabled them to learn first hand about the various local folk music traditions of the places where they lived, taught and performed. These ancient musical traditions have had an immense influence on Zaporski’s playing and composing to this day.



His playing is very expressive and can be intense one moment and lyrical in the next. He utilizes the full range and capacity of the keyboard as he creatively crafts interesting solos with unique improvisational structure.
He also explores dynamics, which create dramatic compositional effects.



Mr. Zaporski is currently teaching music in the Oak Park School District where he shares his knowledge, experience and stories with the future generations of musicians and music fans.







He is on the acclaimed Planet D Nonet, “Salute to Strayhorn” album, which came out in 2016 on the Detroit Music Factory, a subsidiary of Mack Avenue records. The recording is a tribute to legendary pianist, and composer, Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967), best known for his successful collaboration with Duke Ellington for more than 30 years where he wrote some of their most memorable compositions, including “Take the A Train”, Chelsea Bridge, and many others. Zaporski was not only the pianist on the album, but he was also the arranger.







Michael Zaporski is at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe this week from Wednesday, June 28 through Saturday, July 1. His band consists of Joshua James and Nathan Zaporski on saxophones, Kurt Krahnke on bass and Jesse Kramer on drums. For reservations, call 313-882-5299. For more information, 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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June 26, 2017


My life has been full of “how the heck” moments.


The latest “how the heck” question  that I have is, “How do quiet gentle people create bigger than life, over the top and sometimes in your face pieces of art?”  We are used to thinking of artists as temperamental and a little crazy. Often they are hard to deal with and shouldn’t be allowed out in public. We love their work because they are so very different than we are, and we get a glimpse of their untidy lives.


Then there are those constant gentle souls who are so self assured that they feel free to create anything they want.





Here is a friend, Judy Bowman, who is as gentle and kind as a person can get. She seldom seems down. I have never seen a photo of her without a smile. Yet, Judy understands all emotions and feels free to show them. She was principal of Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences while she raised her family. On retirement she threw herself completely into her paintings. This was good for us. All of Judy’s work has force and energy that I often find lacking in angrier artists.












Last week at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café four musicians who had never played together as a group formed a band. New York based T.K. Blue arrived in Detroit and showed up at the Dirty Dog about 2:30PM last Wednesday.  Waiting to meet him were his pianist Buddy Budson, his bassist Marion Hayden and his drummer for the week, David Taylor. They are all Detroit Jazz Fest All-Stars.


By 3pm T.K., Buddy, Marion and David had already discovered that they shared a bunch of character traits, They all have engaging smiles, good reasons for smiling and a willingness to share their good nature. They each also have a bundle of talent and experience. Buddy, Marion and David all knew each other but the question was, how would they blend with this international super star coming in with his personal musical messages?  As I wrote last week, T.K. has a monster resume and speaks French. This was answered with their first exchange of genuine joy to be in each other’s company. The glue that good people exude instantly bound them together for their four day gig. Here were  four gentle, kind and expansive souls forming a rock firm unit. ready to throw caution to the wind and to energetically explore T.K.s music.



If you caught the shows this past week you would have seen four gentle people supporting each other to perform some powerfully and bold jazz.







From 3pm to 5:30PM on Wednesday the newly formed band set up their instruments and spent some time working on getting the sound just right and began going  through T. K.’s playlist with him. It was a party of learning. What to me would be a nerve racking head scratching moment was turning into a love fest. These people didn’t seem to know that they were about to play two hours of jazz over two sets starting in a few hours all in front of patrons who were paying good money to hear them. He had passed out music which they put on music stands. T.K. also played the start of each tune and guided them in their roles. Mostly they exchanged approving glances and outright smiles, obviously not aware of the pending potential for disaster. I was witnessing civility and professional talent triumphing over any fear of failure. There were no abject compliments as from a teacher to a student. These were musicians getting to do what they were born to do and loving every minute.















Out of this mutual respect, appreciation for each other’s artistry came friendship. Out of that friendship came a jazz ensemble that for eight sets grew into a cohesive force.



I was fortunate to be able to watch this happen. T.K. and I had started a dialogue and I was invited into the artist’s  green room. T.K. asked me if between sets we could  continue some thoughts that we had started. With the table set with the Dirty Dog’s great food I realized there was going be more eating. story telling and laughter than serious conversation. This easy cordiality was typical of jazz bands breaking bread in the green room. Maybe, to play great music as a group, the group has to become family.








I came across Shades while he was creating a mural in the Eastern Market forthe Detroit Jazz Festival. Shades again showed me that through his good nature he could overcome tough circumstances. While I was there proud members of his family came by, including his brother, cousin and son (seen in photo above). The results will reflect their support.


John Osler










Michael will merge his understanding of the rhythms of West Africa from his travels with the  State Department with his knowledge of jazz he has learned playing with Art Blakey, Pharaoh Sanders and Donald Byrd.


Another great week of jazz at the Dirty Dog.




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June 23, 2017



Miles Mosley “Uprising” album



Jazz has always been about the “now”.  It has absorbed current cultural trends since the beginning. As we discussed in a recent blog about improvisation, the whole idea of most Jazz is about making music “in the now”.



We’re seeing a new generation of innovative artists who are creating a fresh new sounds that subtly draw on the music’s defining ingredients while injecting elements from the new world of expanded cultural awareness.



They are consciously and unconsciously absorbing the music of their environment – combining basic Jazz components with rhythms, modes, phrasing and technology from Electronic and World music, Hip Hop, Rock, R&B, Funk, Gospel, and other styles.



Here is a partial, yet definitive list of contemporary artists who are taking Jazz in new directions. Some of these folks have been mentioned in previous articles but deserve to be mentioned again in this new context.





Cameron Graves, “Planetary Prince” album



Detroit’s Mack Avenue Records pianist and visionary Cameron Graves is one of the leaders of the Los Angeles Jazz scene and is a founding member of the West Coast Get Down Collective, which includes such artists as saxophonist Kamasi Washington, bassist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner and others. Mr. Graves will be performing this Labor Day weekend at the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival.




Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, bassist / Photo:


These artists are making original music that explores cutting edge arrangements with contemporary rhythmic patterns, and melodic structure. Miles Mosley is considered the leader of the collective and will be performing at the Detroit Jazz Festival this year as well. He’s an acclaimed bassist, vocalist, and composer, and his new album, “Up Rising” is very powerful. The New York Times wrote “His tunes place urgency and nostalgia in contact, as if they were two equally valid strands of idealism”.





Another artist who has been taking Jazz in new directions is veteran, New Orleans born trumpeter, Nicholas Payton. His new album utilizes new technology and special effects. He mixes Jazz with insightful voice loops from Max Roach, Miles Davis, Art Blakey and other Jazz icons.  These are tastefully woven into the music – blending tradition with futuristic tendencies.





De’Sean Jones “Knomadik Reverence” album


Detroit Music Factory’s saxophonist, De’Sean Jones is not only respected here in Detroit and other cities as an excellent Jazz artist and composer but is also known as a member of the Detroit based electronic band, Underground Resistance, which also mixes Jazz with Hip Hop, Funk and Techno. Their huge fan base is world-wide. De’Sean’s music is very “current” and original with elements of great musicianship and depth.




Ian Finkelstein with drummer Alex White


Detroit pianist and Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe regular, Ian Finkelstein, plays masterful Jazz piano with a number of Detroit area groups, including his own. But stretches out when he’s with his own band where he shows us what a master player and composer he is when he’s in his pure electro-funk mode.



Keep your mind and ears open for these new sounds in Jazz and be sure to check out the recordings listed above.





thndercat NicholasPayton cameronGraves DeSeanJonesKnomadik MilesMosleyUprising thundercat




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The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
  LOOKING FOR THE ROOTS   Looking at a healthy plant or tree we don’t always see the [..]
Alphabetical order: Artist(s) / Title / Label*         TK Blue / Amour / Dot Tim [..]
  SMILES   Jazz is a music that rose out of conditions that could have brought us some pre [..]
Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.
Tad Weed Trio
STARTS: Wed, August 02 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 05 2017
Detroit Jazziest All-Stars
STARTS: Wed, August 09 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 12 2017
Spencer Barefield
STARTS: Wed, August 16 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 19 2017
Chris Codish
STARTS: Wed, August 23 2017
ENDS: Thu, August 24 2017
Diego Figueiredo
STARTS: Fri, August 25 2017
ENDS: Sat, August 26 2017
Closed for The Detroit Jazz Festival
STARTS: Tue, August 29 2017
ENDS: Sat, September 02 2017