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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.
March 31, 2020


The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will remain closed until our jazz family can again safely gather in an intimate setting to hear live jazz. What makes the Dirty Dog and jazz so important in our lives is its ability to bring us closer together. For the moment we will have to stay close by staying apart. This necessary intermission will end, and jazz will once again leak out the Dog’s front door and smiling people will pour in. See you then.





Flowers in crack


Until then we have March in Detroit … ugh.


There is one month that has always defeated me. March in Detroit can be depended on to dash all our hopes after teasing us with early signals that spring is coming. March says “not so fast”. Warning thoughts  of “expect the unexpected” and “don’t jump the gun” drift through brief bits of sunlight. The cold mist of reality soon surrounds us.This year we have all been homebound in Michigan for most of March.  Next week we will celebrate the 1st of April, which we call April Fool’s Day. Detroiters are not easily fooled, we still will act responsibly by following the safe practices that will eventually defeat the coronavirus.


One way to survive March/ April is to try get out for walk. Avoid people and look for sunshine in the spirit of survivors like the flowers growing up through the cracks in the pavement. Detroiters manage to work through adversity. These last few weeks have brought into focus the grit and warmth that our community has shown even during March’s drizzly and difficult days.



Creative people like some time to be alone with their thoughts. I have had some creative success by isolating myself from distractions and responsibilities. I was usually in a comfortable and well stocked place. This was the closest I have ever come to a selfish sort of paradise.

My wife and I are suffering what she calls days like soggy Cheerios on a string. Social distancing is testing marriages and families across the country and around the world. We are all pretty isolated right now and it doesn’t seem like paradise, maybe because staying put isn’t voluntary and it isn’t free of distractions. It is wearing pretty thin really fast. Kind friends and our supportive family are reaching out to us by phone. They ask us, “What is new?” and “How are you doing?”,  followed by an awkward silence. The only thing that is new is the running tally of infections and the new guidelines for social distancing. We comfort each other by declaring that we are feeling well and we are doing everything by the book. We hang up and sit alone for a moment and worry about them. So it goes day after day after day.

We are all in this together by staying apart. No one can tell us when we will be safe to mingle and work with others. They can’t tell us because at the moment they can’t possibly know. The informative data isn’t known. The tests to discover who has the bug or who has had the bug are improving. Eventually we will know that a community is safe from infection, and we can reemerge.



Cabin Fever vs Deadly Fever


This will take time so for a while it will be necessary to mitigate the virus by stopping the virus from traveling. Viruses don’t have legs and can only spread by renting some transportation. In fact there isn’t much that virus can do without our help. They are not exactly a living organism. They are without a home until they enter into a living host cell where they can run amok. At this time we can only stop the virus is by stopping its movement. Separation will be our only tool until we test and produce drugs that will mitigate the coronavirus. Once the scourge of the virus and our grumpiness subsides we will see the light and we will once again be able to share a meal, a beverage and some jazz.




I am getting old and creaky. I have been  transitioning from being cautious into  becoming pretty predictable and boring. One has to stay alert and not let age take the life out of you.
I have always had an advantage in that I spent time around jazz musicians who seem to be reverse wired. The older they get the younger they play. They never seem to acknowledge that they should just fade away. I sure could use a shot of youthfulness. My weekly encounters with jazz artists often could jumpstart even my old frayed wiring.

A good friend, Sandy Schopbach, posted this piano solo on Facebook. Ellis Marsalis plays this tune from a deep pool of authentic encounters with life.  The melancholy mood of the tune seemed to me to be appropriate for the times. I can picture an empty Berkeley Square in London or any public place that is void of traffic noise and chatter. Only the stars above and a songbird unaffected and unafraid.


Two lines in the song struck home.

Poor puzzled moon, he wore a frown

The whole darn world seemed upside down

And as we kissed and said goodnight
A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square!


Please stay safe.


John Osler




Here are some things that I have noticed that  are being done to get jazz musicians through this tough patch and until they can get back in the clubs.


Many musicians are playing online, sometimes with inventive ways to raise a buck.  Please support their efforts.





In addition:


A $2 trillion relief bill just became law, with a $250 billion expansion of unemployment benefits. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act will give jobless workers an extra $600 a week on top of a state’s existing benefits, which can range from $200 to $550 a week.

Musicians please note:

It will also cover some workers previously ineligible for benefits — gig and self-employed workers, as well as those whose hours have been cut or who can’t work because of the pandemic.




The Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) is the UIA’s system for filing your unemployment insurance claim and managing your UIA account online. MiWAM makes doing business with the UIA simpler, faster and more efficient.


The Michigan Music Fund,

Artists will able to apply for grants via Performers must be from Michigan, receive their primary income from music have at least one show canceled due to coronavirus; They’ll be able to receive up to $500 and will also be permitted to apply for additional grants.

The applications will be approved by the MMA board of directors.

Michigan Music Alliance is a 501c3 nonprofit organization serving the music community in Michigan.

Michigan Artist Relief Fund

The Michigan Music Alliance is starting a fund to address the current needs of Michigan based musical artists whose incomes are being adversely impacted by COVID-19. With events of all types being canceled to reduce the spread of COVID-19, people who make income fully through gigs and freelance music work are losing critical opportunities to support their well-being.

We welcome applications from any full-time musicians living in Michigan, but will prioritize artists with severe financial impact (most cancelled events) and immediate need. The fund will be open for recouping financial losses due to cancelled music events. Applicants must meet specific requirements to qualify. Applying does not guarantee aid. APPLY HERE.

We have set up an application process that will go live on 3/20/2020. We know we are going to get a ton of requests are we are waiting to open applications to make sure we have some time to raise funds and perfect the application process so it is easy for artists. First, to keep things fair and also manageable, we are going to pay out a maximum of $500 per gig on a first-come, first-served basis if they qualify. This way someone who had a $3,000 gig cancelled doesn’t end up pulling too much from everyone else and we do our best to avoid a tragedy of the commons situation. People with more than one cancelled gig can apply more than once, they just have to wait until they receive a payment to apply again.

To apply, you will need:

1. Your signed W9 as a PDF

2. A request amount (max $500 per cancelled gig)

3. A PDF contract of the gig that was cancelled as a result of COVID-19

4. A PDF version of communication that the gig was cancelled as a result of COVID-19

5. A short bio explaining who you are and what you do

Application Requirements for Assistance:

1. You must live in the state of Michigan

2. You must prove live performance as a musician is your primary source of income

3. Have a cancelled gig by the venue or promoter due to COVID-19 in March 2020

4. The gig must be in Michigan

5. You must be ineligible for unemployment


US-based resources

American Association of Independent Music

American Federation of Musicians

American Guild of Music Artists (AGMA) Relief Fund

Anti-viral Work for Freelancers and Small Biz

Artist Relief Tree Artist Relief Fund

CERF+ The Artists Safety Net

Convertkit Creative Fund

COVID-19 Music Production Response Group

COVID-19 Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks

Crowd Work News Opportunities Page

Emergency Funds & Grants for Visual Artists

Entertainment Assistance Fund

Equal Sound Corona Relief Fund

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

FEMA – Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Fender Guitars – 3 Months Free Lessons

Foundation for Contemporary Arts Relief Fund

Freelance Coop Emergency Fund

Gospel Music Trust Fund

Groupmuse Musician Relief Fund

The Haven Foundation

Independent Venue Week Venue Fundraiser

Jazz Foundation of America Musicians’ Emergency Fund

Live Lesson Masters – Online lessons from professional musicians & instructors – Support Gig Economy Workers

Mental Health America – Info & Resources

Missed Tour

Music Health Alliance Relief Resources

Music Maker Relief Foundation

Music Unites Us Resource & Guide

Musicians Foundation Artist Relief Fund

National Coalition for Arts’ Preparedness & Emergency Response

PAAL – Supporting Artists with Families

Patreon Artist Grant Application

Performing Arts Alliance

Pinetop Perkins Foundation’s Assistance League

Resident Advisor – Coronavirus: how to help the electronic music community

SAG-AFTRA COVID-19 Disaster Fund

Sound and Music – Free Zoom Tutorial Sessions for Composers

Sound Royalties – No-Cost Funding Program

Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief Project

Sweet Relief Musician’s Fund


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March 30, 2020



“There is no better place in the world for Jazz than Labor Day weekend in Detroit,” said Gretchen Valade, chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation Board of Directors. “We’re truly excited for another great Jazz festival and welcome our guests from around the world to our beautiful city.”



Detroit Jazz Festival /Carhartt Stage

September 4-7, 2020



Chris Collins, Detroit Jazz Festival and Artistic Director



Chris Collins, Detroit Jazz Festival President and Artistic Director presented the performance schedule for this year’s festival at the annual press conference last week. He included a list of some of the headlining groups and the annual Artist-in-residence which is the Grammy and Tony award winning Jazz vocalist, Dee Dee Bridgewater.



Chris has out done himself this year with an outstanding artist roster that is sure to attract Jazz fans with diverse tastes in Jazz. Headliners include everyone from Herbie Hancock to Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper and Kurt Elling.



JazzPianistRobert Glasper:photo by NPR

Pianist, Robert Glasper / Photo by NPR


Chris knows his music, as he is also a well-known saxophonist and band leader as well as chairman of the Jazz Studies department at Wayne State University.



Detroit Jazz Festival 2020 media sponsors Detroit Public TV and WRCJ 90.9 FM join Detroit Jazz Fest “On the Road” to the upcoming 50th Festival”!



The music this year shines the spotlight on Detroit’s world-renowned Jazz history and arts community that brought us such artists as drummer Elvin Jones, Alice Coltrane,  Dave McMurray, Anita Baker, Yusef Lateef, Donald Byrd, Ron Carter,   Rodney Whitaker, Kenny Garrett, Curtis Fuller, Paul Chambers, Faruq Z. Bey and countless others.



“True to our mission, the Detroit Jazz Festival provides a platform for emerging and legacy artists to
present true jazz presentations to enthusiasts and fans across the world…this year is no exception.” – Chris Collins


Media sponsors share a common mission with the festival. “At Detroit Public TV and WRCJ 90.9 FM, we aim to strengthen our creative, diverse local community through innovative programming and strong advocacy for the arts.


This commitment to helping Greater Detroit residents access the best cultural experiences our great city has to offer has led to us partner with the famed Detroit Jazz Festival for our third consecutive year.


As the Detroit Jazz Festival approaches its 50-year anniversary, Detroit Public TV and WRCJ are proud to partner with this iconic annual event that helps ensure jazz remains an important part of life in the town played such a large role in the creation of this great art form.”


In keeping with a tradition of presenting true jazz artists and presentations that define its renowned jazz reputation and legacy across the globe, the Detroit Jazz Festival today announced its 2020 lineup for Labor Day weekend.


Previously announced, Grammy and Tony-award winning jazz vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater will serve as the Festival’s Artist-in-Residence. The Detroit Jazz Festival is the world’s largest (and best) free jazz festival in the world.



“True to our mission, the Detroit Jazz Festival provides a platform for emerging and legacy artists to present true jazz presentations to enthusiasts and fans across the world…this year is no exception,” said Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation President and Artistic Director Chris Collins.



“This year’s festival will showcase a very dynamic group of artists from various disciplines and generations, representing our embedded mission to present multiple facets of jazz in one festival setting,” said Collins.



The 2020 Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater will headline multiple performances during the Festival including an opening set with protégé group, the Woodshed Network Ladies, and a closing night performance with her all-female big band. Besides Herbie Hancock, Kurt Elling and Gregory Porter, other highlights include performances from Pharoah Sanders, Abdullah Ibrahim, Omar Sosa and Marialy Pacheco.



This year’s theme, “The Road to the Festival”, also kicks off a journey to the Festival’s 50-year celebration.




The great Jazz pianist, Herbie Hancock, will be at the Detroit Jazz Festival again this year!



Here’s a partial listing of this year’s Festival lineup:

Friday, Sept. 4


• 2020 Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater and the Woodshed Network Ladies

• Herbie Hancock


Saturday, Sept. 5

• Matthew Whitaker Quartet
• Kenny Barron Trio
• Alicia Olatuja – “Intuition: Songs From The Minds of Women”
• Etienne Charles – Creole Soul
• David Binney Angeleno Quartet
• Keyon Harrold presents Jazz and the Birth of Hip Hop with special guests “Elzi”, Georgia Anne Muldrow and Chris “Daddy” Dave
• Pharoah Sanders: Icon
• The Summit: The Manhattan Transfer Meets Take 6
• Kurt Elling’s Big Blind; featuring Kurt Elling, 2020 Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee
• Bridgewater, Broadway Legend Ben Vereen and others


Sunday, Sept. 6

• Michael Mayo Quartet
• Roberto Fonseca – YESUN
• Alfredo Rodriguez & Richard Bona Sextet
• 2020 Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater and Bill Charlap
• Abdullah Ibrahim and the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra
• Anat Cohen Tentet/Musical Director, Oded Lev-Ari
• Sean Jones: “Dizzy Spellz”
• The Dave Brubeck 100th Anniversary Tribute; featuring the Brubeck Brothers, Jerry
• Bergonzi, the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra and Choir, and others
• Fly Higher: Charlie Parker@100 Co Music directors: Rudresh Mahanthappa & Terri Lyne
• Carrington
• Gregory Porter


Monday, Sept. 7
• Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya
• Joey Alexander Trio
• Jimmy Greene Quintet
• Eddie Daniels and Bob James; Exploring New Worlds
• Omar Sosa & Marialy Pacheco Piano Duo
• Robert Glasper
• 2020 Artist-in-Residence Dee Dee Bridgewater and her all-female big band


The full Festival schedule will be available as the event nears.



“There is no better place in the world for Jazz than Labor Day weekend in Detroit,” said Gretchen Valade, chair of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation Board of Directors. “We’re truly excited for another great Jazz festival and welcome our guests from around the world to our beautiful city.”

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March 26, 2020


Spring is here. However, in Michigan the weatherman is the last to hear. As I am writing this, secure and isolated inside my home, it is 30°outside . Yesterday it was  62°.

We are supposed to lock ourselves in our homes, and we probably haven’t noticed the sprouts of flowers peeking up out of hiding, completely unafraid of the virus.



I am thankful that I  have good health, food, music and toilet paper. My wife and I would like to thank all those around us who are committed to slowing down the spread of the coronavirus. It seems that the whole nation has been asked to disrupt their lives to make sure that the most vulnerable citizens will have a chance to survive an infection. I am definitely that vulnerable citizen, and I do appreciate the sacrifices that will be necessary to make it possible for me to emerge unscathed. No one knows for sure how long all our lives will be interrupted. This is what I know.


China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan have seen the virus fizzle out. China reported no new cases last Thursday. This might mean that the virus was unable to survive the drastic responses that were employed. We don’t know yet, but this is good news for them. We know very little about the virus. The Covid-19 strain will either die out or adapt to our actions. It might come back in these countries when the strict protocols are removed. Our success may depend on following their example as best we can.  So that is what we are doing. Thanks.


One year ago I posted this blog for the Dirty Dog.


The blog asked everyone to get out of their cozy homes and crowd into jazz clubs to get their juices going after a long winter. This won’t be possible this spring, and it is the wrong message, but it might remind us how good life can be.



It looks like Detroit will have temperatures in the thirties to the sixties this coming week, Your car and house windows may have an icy glaze that will scatter the sun’s rays,  if we ever get any sunlight in March.



There is some good news for our jazz community because Kimmie Horne will be coming  to warm things up in the the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. To get some relief from the heat she generates one can step outside the club into our Michigan spring, but only for a moment as it will still be cold outside. This dog took too long a break outside the Dirty Dog during last year’s Michigan springtime. Be careful.



Polar bear



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



Polar bear 2



Being holed up can make all of us 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 like being grouchy and feeling hemmed in, but we need a pretty good reason to leave our warm homes 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 it comes from a genuinely pleasant  staff.





Another spring I posted about our choices of either traveling or going out to a local jazz club.







New Orleans will come alive with music and parades and along with much of the world folks will go outdoors and into the streets to party.



They take March more seriously because they are asked to give up more than we do in Michigan. We can give up our winter overcoat, galoshes or hot breakfasts. They have more to lose so they make up for it by having a fun fest for several weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. I have noticed that they seldom give up their music for Lent , nor do we.


In Michigan our march into Spring can feel a little different.



Scene from Game of Thrones


Uncertain and severe weather can make us stronger. We develop character traits that come in handy when March rolls around. We tell ourselves that things can’t get any worse and learn to appreciate what we have.

After all in only six months we will have the return of cool nights and Labor Day weekend with Detroit’s Jazz Festival to shake us out of our summer doldrums. Meanwhile Detroit’s jazz artists will be informing us of all the things that they have learned while holed up all winter. Michigan will bloom again better than ever. Anyway this is what Willie Jones tells me.



In that year’s blog I offered the alternative to going away for some warmth was to visit your local jazz club.  Those were good days.






March is one crazy month. Named for Mars, the god of war. It was the time that armies could gear up and return to battle after a long pause for winter. It is the start of Lent when we are asked to give up something we like very much, This year it is almost everything.

We may be at just the beginning of being separated from friends, work, social gatherings and live music. Who knows? The hardest part of the coronavirus incubation is the unknown time frame. How long before we can shake a hand, give a hug and hear live jazz? No one can tell us because no one knows for sure. There don’t seem to be too many covidiots who may feel it is their right to mingle, who could extend the time that we will have to remain separated. and delay our chances of returning to normal. Instead what I see are empty streets and a responsible community. This gives me hope. Keep it up.








This year the Dirty Dog’s celebration of spring will be be postponed a few months.

Everyone at the Dirty Dog hopes that until we see you again you and your loved ones are safe.

John Osler

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March 19, 2020



When it comes to vocal vs. instrumental music, it seems as though most listeners prefer one over the other.  A lot is determined by what genres they are driven to. For example, rock, “pop” or blues etc. use more vocals than other styles such as Classical or Jazz.



Other vocal based styles include  Folk music, Country, Bluegrass,  R&B, Opera, and many others. On the other hand, there are genres that are primarily instrumental such as Jazz, Classical, and dance oriented forms of World Music.



In most cases most people prefer vocal music over instrumental. A lot depends on what type of music they were exposed to as a child.



Lyrics in a song usually deliver a specific message or story, while instrumental music encourages the listener to use their imagination and emotional memory. The sounds in music often mimic sounds we hear in everyday life, conveying  a certain mood or emotion.  Instrumental music can do this without words.



I have been intrigued with the vocal v.s. instrumental music syndrome since the early 70’s when I began producing a daily radio program with an  eclectic music mix.  The show featured everything from Blues and Jazz to World music, Classical, Funk, and everything in between.  Listeners would give me feed back on what they liked and didn’t  like – quite often commenting on the vocal vs. instrumental issue.



I had to make sure to choose the right pieces of music so as not to get genre shock ,(or too much contrast between pieces) striving for the right blend of different styles to achieve a pleasant sound with continuity while presenting a wide variety of music from many cultures and time periods.




Drawing on many styles, I had to look for pieces that were compatible and had things in common to play off of, regardless of when or where they were written.



It’s interesting to listen to comments listeners make about the music, responding to the melody, lyrics or tempo or the emotional feel of the music itself.



Some folks were a bit uncomfortable listening to instrumental music -saying  “it was as if they were driving with their eyes closed”.  Some never thought about it, or noticed the music as having words or not.


Examine  your own tastes and see what you prefer!

March 2020






















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March 17, 2020



I have made a difficult decision. I will not be going to New Orleans this spring. I will not be going anyplace that isn’t absolutely necessary. I fit the profile of someone at risk of dying from the coronavirus outbreak. I am ancient and have a history of respiratory illness. I could be the poster child for why we should all be careful and avoid each other until we get a handle on this new threat. Every time I turn on the radio or TV they are describing me as the person we should all be concerned about. That said, I have always considered myself as indestructible and think it unlikely that I will be touched by a tiny unseen virus. My kids and neighbors will be trying to protect me from myself. I will listen to them.

We all have a responsibility to each other. If it turns out that the virus can’t get a foothold in our neighborhood it will be because we all for a little while have personally followed  procedures that stop the virus from spreading. We may never know when or if our united stand has defeated this threat. We only know that at this moment communal separation is our only protection . Please be safe and respectful of others. This is not a hoax.

Our first task will be to defeat the virus by breaking its ability to transfer to vulnerable victims. We must also help lift up those affected by the momentary hardship our actions will inflict. I may not be able to come to the Dirty Dog. I will show my support by purchasing a gift certificate and plan on showing up when I can safely return. We must find ways to support those around us at their moment of need.

Here is how the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is approaching the threat. The Dirty Dog will be evaluating the situation and will take further actions when it is deemed appropriate.

The jazz community is a close knit family. We may lose a little of that closeness for a while. It will return.


Dear Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe patrons and friends,


At the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, the health, safety and well-being of our staff, guests and the community we serve is our top priority. In light of the situation around COVID-19 (commonly known as the Coronavirus), we wanted to provide an update on our current actions and ways we are working to protect the health and safety of all who join us at the Dirty Dog.

In addition to following the guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and local health departments, we are taking a number of steps to reinforce our internal illness prevention policies including increasing the frequency of our standard cleaning procedures.

As our patrons, we ask that you join us in following these guidelines:
-Attend the Cafe only if you are well. If you believe you are ill or would like to cancel or modify a reservation please contact us at 313-882-5299 and we will be happy to assist you. Please avoid close contact with people who are sick, and avoid unnecessary contact with those around you, such as shaking hands.

-Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow; immediately throw your tissue in the trash and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

-Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, such as your phone, tablets and other devices

-Wash your hands vigorously with soap and water for a least 20 seconds before dining, after using the restroom and after touching possible contaminated surfaces,

For everyone visiting our venue, we are placing hand sanitizers at the front and rear entrances of the club and keeping our bathrooms stocked with soap, towels and items necessary for frequent hand washing.

We will continue to closely monitor the rapidly-changing situation, responding to new information as it happens and preparing for all possible scenarios.

We appreciate your participation in protecting the health and safety of our community, our team and our patrons.

Willie Jones

Customer Relations Manager

Andre Neimanis

Executive chef & General Manager


The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will respectfully follow the directive to close its doors until it is in the public interest to reopen. Thank you for your understanding and future support.




I will survive not traveling to New Orleans. It will be  a momentary disappointment for one fan. However, New Orleans’ appeal to me has always been that is the home for many artists, musicians, chefs, writers and adventurers. These are people who can survive living on the edge because of the huge influx of people who arrive in The Big Easy every week to catch a glimpse of the unique spirit of New Orleans. The coming months will be one more challenge for this too often tested community. There will be hardship and new songs and stories of hardship, despair, resolve, sharing and sacrifice.






 New Orleans can have some rough edges, but it is New Orleans and it will likely lift you up like nowhere else. Somewhere I read  ” When you bring New Orleans your sad story New Orleans will put a beat to it.” That is why from time to time I need to spend time in this sort of run down but wildly alive river town.






Detroit and New Orleans are both known for the ability to come back from hard times. It isn’t always easy, but both cities seem to be able to keep their unique personalities intact.

I first visited New Orleans as a tourist and it certainly lives up to its Chamber of Commerce frenzied jazz filled claims. It is one of a few American cities which has retained its unique heritage and has certainly capitalized on its constant state of celebration. There is music everywhere in New Orleans.





When Christmas approaches tourists seem to disappear in New Orleans, leaving the city in the hands of its citizens. New Orleans is a city that finds reasons to celebrate. New Orleans musicians find ways to gather. You will find them at the charitable events that pop up before Christmas. The word gets out, and the result is a lot of good music.

That is the reason that I have often opted to spend time in New Orleans in December, Detroit gets really cold and messy. New Orleans is ice free. New Orleans is a warm refuge and a friendly landing place for artists, musicians and anyone who might live on the edge. I have been fortunate to have artist and musician friends in New Orleans who have given me a chance to get to know a New Orleans that tourists don’t get to see. It has confirmed to me that New Orleans shares the same spirit that drives Detroit. Both cities seem to be able to take challenges and just get stronger. Deep in their DNA the cities have the drive, resilience and rhythms that show up in their music.

New Orleans and Detroit historically have seamlessly passed the musical torch back and forth, making jazz better in both cities.







There are always things that we can learn from New Orleans. Music plays a major role in the commercial life of the city. It powers the image of New Orleans as a city that is having a good time. Street musicians are everywhere. Music pours out into the streets from bars and restaurants, and people pour in. Out of towners bring their wallets to New Orleans and exchange the contents for being included at the party.

The city is very good at promoting itself by promoting its music. Without the music and the crowds New Orleans will be tested. We all will be tested. Sometimes this brings out the best in us.

This spring I will not be traveling south to New Orleans to visit musician friends, but my heart will be with them.

Selflessness will be our best weapon against the virus. Inconvenience will be welcome in exchange for protecting others. Already all tour dates have disappeared and many local gigs have vanished. We are being asked to separate and to show up for one another.

We will do our best.



A few weeks ago I got a Facebook post that best describes the spirit that will be required  of all of us to get us through. There was a photo of jazz trombonist Vincent Chandler with his students from Wayne State. They were at the bedside of a smiling  Curtis Fuller. Curtis is one of Detroit’s most respected jazz legends. Vincent had his students get to know Curtis’ work and then play tunes for him in his style in his nursing home room. The smile on Curtis’ face tells us that they nailed it. I asked Vincent why I didn’t see his trombone. He answered that this was not his moment. They were there to let Curtis know that his music will live. Hopefully Vincent’s selflessness will be an example for all of us.

Stay safe,

John Osler









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.







Saxophonist Rafael Statin seems to be playing a different instrument every time I see him. Rafael is one of those rarest of multi-instrumentalist who can combine great passion, intellectual discipline, and a spiritual fire that is evocative of great artistic creativity. He has so far established himself as a remarkable composer and musician not defined by any one particular genre.



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March 10, 2020




Jazz Pianist McCoy Tyner


I saw in Saturday’s New York Times that revered Jazz pianist, McCoy Tyner, had died the day before at the age of 81.  Ben Ratliff wrote that Mr. Tyner was a “cornerstone of John Coltrane’s groundbreaking 1960’s quartet” and one of the most influential pianists in Jazz history with his rich, percussive playing, he gained notice with John Coltrane’s quartet, then went on to influence virtually every pianist in Jazz.”


He spent five years playing in John Coltrane’s group alongside other big names such as bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones, playing on  several albums that have become Jazz “landmarks” of the idiom including “My Favorite Things,  “Impressions”” and “A Love Supreme”.”


I studied music and the piano for most of my life and became a huge fan of McCoy Tyner after being introduced to his music from WDET’s  Program Director, Bud Spangler, when I first started working at the station in 1973.


McCoy Tyner soon became one of my favorite pianists as well as one of the greatest pianists in Jazz.  His powerful playing style was “one of a kind” with a strong left-hand, due partially to the fact he was left handed.  I liked this because I’m left-handed as well.


I got to see him play live many times over the years, which was definitely a powerful experience.  The last time I saw him was at Detroit’s Orchestra Hall about 6 years ago. You could tell that his health was slowing him down but the music was still moving strong. People were saying that it might be his last tour.


I had the opportunity to do a live interview with him a WDET in the the late 70’s while I was  doing my “Morphogensis” program..and he was on a promo-tour for his “Fly with the Wind” album.


The photo here was taken the day of that interview. I was mesmerized by his presence (to say the least!). It must have been around 1977. The other person in the photo was Chris Hubbarth, his escort from the record company, who was also a fan.


What a great experience that was as the interview went on for more than an hour. We ended up talking about all sorts of things,  from his work with John Coltrane, his chordal style and spirituality. I will never forget meeting him and our warm conversation.


The great McCoy Tyner  and his music will not be forgotten as his music will go on forever through his many recordings and other copies of his work – not to mention our memories.   He once said that to him “living and music are all the same thing.”


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The confluence of jazz and art has been around for a long time. Henri Matisse collected jazz recordings while in Paris and the South of France. His art inspired jazz artists. This was the same music that Piet Mondrian heard when he moved to New York City. Ultimately the new modern city and the new modern music of jazz went hand-in-hand in their influence upon modern art and architecture




Last week I was sitting with a good friend, Suan Skarsgard, talking about her interest in mid twentieth century modern architecture. Susan gives lectures internationally on design. She is a great designer herself and she is really good at lecturing, believe me. Susan just published a book on Eero Saarinen’s groundbreaking design for the GM Tech Center in Warren, Mi.

GM took a flier using Eero’s plans which asked them to spend a few bucks to make it a little jazzier than the staid auto company had planned. It is still a destination for design buffs. Somewhere in the back of the minds of GM’s executives was a memory of a night in a jazz club hearing some strange new music that they couldn’t quite shake. Maybe the jazz  was full of straight lines with blurts and blats of color, just like Saarinen’s plan. Who knows? We do know how much jazz influenced some of our greatest visual artists like Piet Mondrian and Henri Matisse, and we do know how much they influenced the direction taken by architects like Eero Saarinen. The look of the great GM Tech Center  in turn influenced the designs of GM’s cars.

There are some common threads that tie jazz, Piet, Henri and Eero together. To achieve greatness one must be adventurous, must be comfortable with risk and must be willing to strive to be the best. It takes hard work, not just inspiration. Jazz has challenged many a creative soul to take more risks and stretch horizons. Jazz sets a high bar.


Music comforts us with its steady familiarity. Music is also a force for change. It always has been. If music can change, so can we. Jazz by its very nature sometimes explodes with change, commanding us to do the same.


The rich sounds, rhythms, and colors of jazz inspired visual artists of the 20th century. I think immediately of Romare Bearden who painted jazz scenes and incorporated titles of favorite performances in his collages. He created specific works for albums by Charlie Parker, Donald Byrd, and other greats. Stuart Davis said jazz was one of the things that made him want to paint. Jackson Pollock’s action painting technique reflected the improvisation, freedom, and rhythm of the jazz music he loved.


 Romare Bearden


Following World War II art and music were released from traditional constraints. It seemed that no one wanted to go back to what they had been doing. Artists who lived in  beautiful landscaped villages opted to move to cities with straight streets and boxy buildings. Those who who lived in boxy buildings wanted to move to beautiful curvy landscapes in the countryside.

I had a  chance to stay in a artist’s house on a  beautiful hilltop village in Provence. Jacque’s home  was only accessible by walking an ancient stone path that wound beautifully up into the village among trees, walls  and  flowers planted by the villagers. The whole village was composed of perfect curves merging with perfectly placed stone houses and plants.  I would find Jacque carefully placing stones in walls just as they always had  been. He smiled when he put a new flower in the right place.

Piled inside his studio was his art. It was all straight lines in grays and black, every canvas. I don’t believe that he ever saw a straight line in his surroundings. It was probably the most perfect thing he could imagine.


Piet Mondrian: 1872-1944,


Piet Mondrian – loved jazz (but couldn’t dance!)


It would have been difficult to see that coming if you only looked at his younger years and his early works. He grew up in Holland where his paintings were landscapes and still lifes that looked backwards. Then he packed up his brushes and went to Paris where he was exposed to jazz, two step dancing, Josephine Baker and cubism.


Piet Mondrian – Broadway Boogie Woogie 1942


Straight lines were becoming exciting, and color stayed within those lines. What was it that  influenced Piet Mondrian to abandon traditional painting and and help lead an art movement? It turns out that one of the reasons was that he came to New York and started listening to jazz. Mondrian set out to depict the rhythm and the energy of Manhattan.

Jazz and painting turned out to be a two way inspiration. In the later stages of his life, Mondrian became a friend of Thelonius Monk. When Monk spoke about his music he often referred to the precision with which Mondrian placed a line or applied a color in his paintings.

Mondrian’s earlier, naturalistic pictures contain the seeds for his later inventions, the grids of his classic works derive from the geometry of the flat Dutch landscape, straight canals and tall windmills that were among the subjects of his youth.



No artist before him did so much with so little. It wasn’t as easy as it looks. Mondrian labored lovingly over his paintings, varying the density and luminosity of his colors, so that two whites side-by-side would not be the same. He built up patches of color into creamy pools and varnished his black lines until they shone.The surface is heavily worked. Mondrian clearly slaved over it.

ableau No 4, Lozenge Composition

Mondrian rotated his paintings to unusual angles, as in Tableau No 4, Lozenge Composition (Credit: Alamy)

To really appreciate the work he put into each piece it is necessary to really look at one of his  original paintings. He was a tinkerer, thickening one line a quarter-inch, moving another over, stopping yet another just on the brink of the picture’s edge. His canvases have a  quality that you don’t expect from seeing them in reproduction.

Mondrian’s works do not wear their emotions on their sleeves. They are demanding.  But as much as any artist in history, he was an artist of extreme delicacy and a force for change.



”Art is the expression of a human soul.  It finds its means where it may: music, sculpture, painting.  It’s a personal matter of aptitude and natural gifts.”
Henri Matisse



The Louisiana State Museum’s Old United States Mint in New Orleans


A powerful memory for me was the time I visited an  exhibition of  Henri Matisse’s work In New Orleans in 2002. Matisse was alway pushing his reset button  The experience of seeing Matisse’s work in New Orleans will stayed with me the rest of my life. It was a brilliant show of Matisse’s work.  I remember walking out of the building not knowing whether to hear some jazz or go back and stare at the colorless paintings that I was working on. I think I went and got a beer,

Henri Matisse influenced jazz as much as he was influenced by jazz.



Henri Matisse had beaucoup influences throughout  his life. I have liked every period of his work, but believe that he worked freer and bolder the older he got. Luminous colors were always the hallmark of Henri Matisse’s paintings, never more so than in the cutouts of his late period.  Many jazz players also seem to get better as the years go by.


‘It’s a fact that I’m afraid I shall lose my sight, and not be able to paint any more.  So I thought of something.  A blind man must give up painting, but not music’.   Henri Matisse


Henri Matisse was an old man and had been ill for sometime and was restricted to just doing paper cutouts.He would draw the shapes on the paper and his assistants would cut the paper. Picasso would come by while he was working and they would talk art. He died not too long after finishing this book that he called  Jazz.


Matisse describes his cutouts as “drawing with scissors,” a process “of cutting into color” that reminded him “of a sculptor’s carving into stone.”



Jazz was issued as a portfolio of 20 separate exhibitable plates and also as a bound book with Matisse’s written text. In both cases, the editions were small. Jazz is a work of great joie de vivre. The book is done like a jazz artist might improvise a project, with the precision that resulted from years of drawing. Matisse practiced drawing as a musician practices, constantly refining form and touch.


‘As soon as I can remember I was tapping and beating on things. My mother bought me a drum set and said, “Here honey, beat on these.”’ Gayelynn McKinney


It seems to me that there is a large family of artists who take turns carrying the ball a little farther down the field, up the hill and sometimes into a beautiful woods.

This week we will have the results of good things handed on at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.

It seems appropriate that some of the family at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café will be on hand  for this special McKinney family gathering. Welcome to the family.


John Osler











Quartet Guitarist Ron English is a well-respected member of Detroit’s music community. He has helped shape contemporary Jazz styles since the 1960’s with a diverse repertoire covering Jazz, Blues, Avant-garde, Motown, Soul/Funk and Gospel.


March 11 – 14





Gayelynn will bring her family to the Dirty Dog. They all will have only a few miles to travel.  It has always seemed a little unfair to have so much talent in one family. In Detroit classy musicians tend to have classy musician kids. We can only enjoy it.



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March 2, 2020



In this Corner Willie will be sharing with us some insights and stories. Knowing Willie, they will be to the point and upbeat.



Last week I had a chance to sit down for a chat with Willie Jones and Jeff Canady. Willie had just finished seating, serving and comforting a full house of Jeff Canady fans. Jeff had just played his heart out on his drum set while serving to please a room full of Willie Jones fans. They are both men who favor doing over talking. They are men who lead by example and fortunately both are good examples, exactly at a time when we are all looking for some good examples.

They talked about the importance of learning to listen. In their roles as bandleader and manager they have the responsibility to discern the direction things are going to go in an instant. They have learned to keep both their ears and minds open at all times. The gift of listening they share helps them remain alert and aware of those around them. They both also have a habit of sort of smiling when they speak and listen. An epidemic of good natured bantering broke out. Their conversation became a demonstration of the respect that they have for each other. The one thing we all agreed on was the exceptional amount of respect that the audience that frequents the Dirty Dog Jazz Café has for the jazz musicians who play there. They listen. Willy listens. Jeff listens. I also came away with a reminder that I could use a little of their skills of observation.





This week Willie Jones makes his post in Willie’s Corner. His subject is his take on listening out of the conversation we had with Jeff Canady.

Willie is officially the dining room manager/programming director. Unofficially he is the Director of Food,Spirits and all that Jazz. Because Willie Jones directs the food, spirits and jazz with a firm but light touch, the Dirty Dog Jazz Café looks and feels the way it does.

Along with Chef André he is responsible for all the things that work, and when they don’t he is there making things right.








“No problem” Willie Jones








Willie has guided the Dirty Dog Jazz Café since its conception ten years ago. He has done this with an unusual amount of surety and confidence in outcomes, combined with  grace and joy. Knowing Willie is around makes one feel like everything is going to be alright.

There are situations that spring up and test us. Everyone looks around for a way out of the mess. Sometimes the monstrous obstacle that is thrown in our path isn’t as big as we think it is, and we just needed someone to bring the problem into perspective. Willie Jones the manager of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is that someone.

All eyes turn to Willie. Willie will certainly handle this. Everything will be alright.

When others might go into  semi-panic mode as events unfold, Willie looks as calm as our old cat lying in front of the fireplace. He reminded me of those other kids that had really studied before a test. Nonplussed and unshaken their demeanor was always calming and reassuring.


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One of the pleasures of hanging around a jazz club is to watch the music get better and better as new players show up. Jeff Canady is a drummer who has that Detroit ability to  relentlessly keep the band staying on the beat from start to finish. We can feel Jeff’s playing inside our bones. His drumming  is the meat that his pals in the band feed on. Jeff is a force. yet he has the ability to always be in support of the player who is telling his story. When Willie and Jeff had their conversation, Jeff made the case for listening carefully to those around you. Jeff considers communications and mutual respect to be essential assets when he picks members of his ensembles. Jeff speaks mostly with his music and the look in his eyes, but Jeff gets his message across.





Jazz happens in groups. Whether a duo, trio, quartet, combo, big band, or other type of ensemble.  Great jazz happens when a bunch of musicians really listen to each other. Playing jazz with others requires awareness, listening, and sensitivity. along with the ability to make adjustments on the spot in order to support colleagues and take the lead.




What are musicians thinking about while standing on the bandstand while the drummer is taking off on a wild solo? What are they supposed to do? Where should they stand? I have set out to find the answers for these critical questions.So far the best answer I have gotten is that they are listening.

They aren’t thinking about the food awaiting them after the set, or whether they left the door unlatched, They are really listening. Listening is a big part of their job. The  better they are at listening the better they will be as an  artist.

The subject of listening to music has been written about extensively both from the players and the listeners perspective. I am guilty of watching through my camera more than I have listened. There are times when I do find myself deep in the music and listening intently. I can’t help myself.  I do this enough to know how good the music is.  I have been watching jazz musicians at their work at the Dirty Dog for some time. I have yet to see one take a mental break while on the bandstand. When they are not playing they appear to be still involved and carefully listening for cues and clues. One thing for sure is that jazz musicians have an enlarged need for paying attention as the music is likely to go in a new direction, and they have to  hear it in order to keep up.

For the rest of us we live at a time where music and sound  surrounds us all of the time. Music is in the stores, the elevator, in our car, coming out of the kid’s room and sometimes from the band in the basement. The human brain is very adept at filtering out these sounds, so that we become almost entirely oblivious to them. We can even shift from being a passive listener to someone capable of staying tuned in to a long concert or the full set . We learn more than to only hear, we learn to really listen.

When we see a live performance  we will begin listening for clues. You will see artists listening to each other. You will see glances exchanged, smiles, frowns, astonished faces.





The music surrounds us but how much do we really listen to it – and how much do we just hear it?  Jazz musicians really listen.

It may be the ability to concentrate that separates the créme de la créme from the pretty good  artists in all fields. This ability to stay lost in the subject is a common thread  found in successful artists. As a painter I have experienced the process. This doesn’t mean that my painting is great while I am lost in the process, but seldom do I do great stuff when I am not completely immersed in the work. These are my very best times that lead to some pretty good work.

Then there is the huge challenge of improvisation, which is basically composing on the fly. When improvising, there is a safety net of knowing the proper chord structure and melody, but players have to have a huge musical vocabulary and realize in milliseconds what new notes will fit. They also have to listen hard so they can interact properly with what others in the band are playing. The “call and response” paradigm in jazz is actually musical conversation. I can’t think of anything more mentally demanding, especially for youngsters in early stages of learning music. Early middle school is a particularly time-sensitive period for mental development, and I suspect that middle school jazz bands can have disproportionate beneficial effects on brain development.




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When Rayse Biggs plays the Dirty Dog we can count on him  to show us his best chops. In addition he will show us some pretty good listening. Rayse is one of the jazz’s most graphic listeners. You can see the music reflected in his face when he stands aside during his mates’ solos.




Willie’s lesson for all of us is that old saying “Opportunity seldom rises with blood pressure.”

Willie Jones never stops calmly observing and listening. Everyone coming to the Dirty Dog will experience the sense of order that Willie Jones brings to his tasks. Willie has the ability to place the right person in the right place at crucial times.  Smiles are allowed, mistakes are corrected, and the results are apparent, as Willie in his role as Director of Food, Spirits and all that Jazz says, ” WELCOME TO THE DIRTY DOG”.


John Osler







March 4 – 7




Expect the unexpected along with the expected when Dave Bennett brings his band to the Dirty Dog this week.

For all four nights the place will be packed. it will be jammed with those who have an appreciation of our jazz roots. They will be treated to being only feet away from musicians who share their love of jazz and will be playing it about as well as anybody can. They will unabashedly play music that makes one feel good to be alive.



March 11 – 14





Gayelynn will bring her family to the Dirty Dog. They all will have only a few miles to travel. This family defines class when will we talk of first class musicians. It has always seemed a little unfair to have so much talent in one family. In Detroit classy musicians tend to have classy musician kids. We can only enjoy it.




March 18, 19





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.





March 20,21





Saxophonist Rafael Statin seems to be playing a different instrument every time I see him. Rafael is one of those rarest of multi-instrumentalist who can combine great passion, intellectual discipline, and a spiritual fire that is evocative of great artistic creativity. He has so far established himself as a remarkable composer and musician not defined by any one particular genre.



March 24 – 28







Paul Keller has toured, played gigs with, done arrangements for, collaborated with countless jazz artists.

Paul has played on over 60 CDs with artists such as Diana Krall, Russell Malone, Tom Saunders, Chuck Hedges, Eddie Higgins, Larry Fuller, Johnny O’Neal, Bess Bonnier, Jon-Erik Kellso, Dan Barrett, Rebecca Kilgore, Phil DeGreg, Mr. B, Steve Wood, Rick Roe, Ellen Rowe, Marcus Belgrave, Franz Jackson, Pete Siers, Dan Faehnle and Larry Nozero. Paul has also performed in concert with jazz greats Joe Williams, Cab Calloway, Oliver Jones, Clark Terry, Red Holloway, Gene Bertoncini, Jeff Hamilton, Scott Hamilton, Ken Peplowski, Jake Hanna, Terry Gibbs, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Mark Murphy, Doc Cheatham, Byron Stripling, Jay McShann, Barry Harris, Mulgrew Miller, Jessica Williams, Bill Mays, Kenny Drew, Jr., Herb Ellis, Bucky Pizzerelli, Mark Elf and James Moody.

We are lucky to have him for four days at the Dirty Dog. He will bring with him some of his most talented pals.



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Gayelynn McKinney at DDJC


Award winning Detroit Jazz drummer and bandleader, Gayelynn

McKinney at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. Photo by John Osler



Ms. McKinney has been quite busy the past year or two starting when she became a mentor and a member of Aretha Franklin’s band where she got to go on world-wide tours and play with a great group led by the legendary musical genius Aretha Franklin, not long before her untimely death.


ArethaFranklin and GayelynnMcKinney

Aretha Franklin and Gayelynn McKinney


These tours included entertaining our troupes in Germany and Italy and elsewhere.
Gayelynn said that traveling and performing with Miss Franklin was a deeply gratifying and inspirational experience she will never forget. These experiences eventually began influencing her music in many ways.



Gayelynn and Harold McKinney(HughGrannum)

Gayelynn with her late father, Harold McKinney , who was an award-winning  composer, pianist, and mentor and co-founder of the musician-run-collective “Tribe” which was a internationally respected Detroit Jazz band,  magazine, concert venue,  and record label all in one!



At home she not only received a coveted Kresge Arts Fellowship which allowed her to release her McKinfolk album, which is a tribute to her late father’s musical legacy which preserved and reflected the  Detroit Jazz sound and style,  but she was also honored with a Detroit Black Music Award as well.  The musical McKinney family is legendary in Detroit. In fact, a road in downtown Detroit’s Harmonie Park is named after her father, “Harold McKinney”.



Gayelynn McKinney at DDJC


For this return run to the Dirty Dog, Gayelynn, as always, has brought together some great musicians in her new multigenerational band – a perfect eclectic mix for a night of eclectic Jazz, including John Douglas on trumpet, Jeffrey Trent on saxophone, Jonathan Muir-Cotton on bass, Gerard Gibbs on keyboards (on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, and pianist Ian Finkelstein on Friday.



Gayelynn will also be treating us to some new compositions from a soon to be released “McKinney-Zone” CD which should be out soon. They’re all played by some of the best musicians playing in Detroit at this time. It’s all happening at the Dirty Dog, Wednesday, March 11 through Saturday March 14.  Hope to see you there!



For reservations and information, all the Dirty Dog at 313-882-5299 or go to

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February 24, 2020




Those were simpler times. We went to school or work, came home, ate, slept and did other simple stuff. We filled our days just like our parents did before us. Life was not very complicated or very complex, and most things were affordable and doable. When things weren’t going well and we wanted to feel a little better we listened to some feel good music that had silly words and danceable rhythms. As a jazz fan I listened to traditional jazz, just like my parents. When I was little my parents, my sister and I would sit in front of the large radio console and listen to classical music until bedtime. After we were sent upstairs my dad would put on some jazz albums. I would sit on the stairway out of view in my pajamas and listen. Someplace in my psyche I have installed the idea that the jazz from that time would make me feel better. It still does. It was perfect feel good music.

The early jazz recordings my parents played were somewhat limited to white musicians playing black innovations of jazz. Black musicians didn’t have a shot at getting recorded and distributed nationally. I heard a lot of Dixieland and big band jazz, a likely result of my parents being art students during the “jazz age”. For them this was music for dancing and for lifting one’s spirits. It was boisterous, straightforward and fun.






I have always favored traditional jazz. I caught Louis Armstrong and The Dukes of Dixie when they were in town. The Mothers Boys played weekly in Detroit’s warehouse district.. I saw Turk Murphy in San Francisco, The Firehouse Five Plus Two in LA, and spent time listening to Chicago style jazz at Eddie Condon’s jazz club in NYC.

I have no idea what traditional jazz is.  “Modern Jazz” started more than 75 years ago. I think we can consider tradition jazz to be all music that jazz artists played before traditional bebop came around. I think we can safely say traditional jazz is what your dad and mom liked, played by people who looked like your mom or dad.

The history of jazz has so many currents of influence, from the blues songs emerging from the African-American tradition, the work songs black field labourers would sing, the call-and-response tradition of black Baptist churches to the classical music coming from Europe.  All the while white musicians took note. “Trad” jazz was played in Britain when American jazz drifted overseas.




When I first heard live jazz in high school,  jazz had changed. The music I liked had my dad scratching his head. Louis was being featured in sappy movies playing sappy songs. He was still the best thing in the films. When I heard him in a concert with Jack Teagarden, I was taken back to those days listening with my parents and feeling good about the world.

Traditional jazz, hot jazz, good time jazz music are names that I have always attached to early jazz from ragtime to bop.





The Armistice to end World War I brought a sudden sense of relief and a jolt of reality to our country.  When it ended so abruptly, we needed a relief valve. Here was an opening for new ideas, creating a fertile atmosphere for America’s musical child, jazz, to spread across America and the world.

Jazz had been born in 1895, the year Buddy Bolden started his first band in New Orleans. Jazz remained local for a while, but soon white copycats began appropriating the sound and style of black musicians.  Nick LaRocca and his Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded the first jazz record, Livery Stable Blues in 1917. This was the first instance of jazz music being called “Dixieland”.

When they recorded Livery Stable Blues the all-white Original Dixieland Jass Band borrowed to the point of plagiarism from the African-American musicians they’d heard in their native New Orleans. There was a lawsuit about who wrote Livery Stable Blues.

The judge in the case ruled that since the song was in bad taste and composed by people who couldn’t actually read or write sheet music it would be remanded to the “public domain” with no writer attributed at all.

A lot of traditional jazz bands understandably shy away from being labeled a “Dixieland Band”.  The term Dixie has attached itself to the antebellum South, specifically anything south of the Mason-Dixon line. “Dixie” is still a reference to pre-Civil War Southern States.

Black musicians have traditionally rejected the term as a style distinct from traditional jazz, Some consider Dixieland a derogatory term because it was first played publicly without the passion or deep understanding of the original music and because of the unfair practices early jazz musicians endured.




The Dixie Highway was a United States automobile highway, first planned in 1914 to connect the US Midwest with the Southern United States.

The route was marked by a red stripe with the white letters “DH”, usually with a white stripe above and below. The logo was commonly painted on utility poles.

During the war years it took a lot of gas stamps to get out of town. I knew there was a major road that came down from Pontiac alongside Detroit, headed to Toledo and ended up in Miami. This was the Dixie Highway. Today we have interstate highways and higher levels of integration in our music. Dixieland music now honors the tradition and struggles and is less an act of theft.






After a depression or war we often see a revival of traditional music.  When we get into  a dreary period in our lives we may put on some early jazz or watch an old movie where we know everything turns out OK.

After WWII there was a revival movement that included elements of the Chicago style that developed during the 1920s. We saw the use of a string bass instead of a tuba.  The  traditional front lines still consisted of trumpets, trombones, and clarinets, and some ensemble improvisation over a two-beat rhythm.

Dixieland is often today applied to any band playing in a traditional style reflecting the grouping of the Chicago and New Orleans styles of traditional jazz under the same label.

Jazz is derivative, so everytime jazz is played the musicians give a wink of gratitude that jazz was so much fun to play from the very first day.

There are those who say that without Louis Armstrong, there would be no jazz today.

Who knows?





This coming Tuesday, February 25,  a new jazz band will be showing up at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.

Seven of our best traditional jazz artists were assembled by drummer Pete Siers as a show of gratitude for one of jazz’s greatest supporters, Gretchen Valade. For one night  Gretchen will be treated to the music that brought back fond memories of her first introduction to jazz while a student in New York. The band named itself ” The Dirty Dogs”.

The music that they play is seldom heard today in its original form. It is, however, part of our musical heritage and its influence can be heard in all the music where you find yourself tapping your feet and feeling an urge to clap your hands. On Tuesday night we will hear some whoops and noticed some smiles on faces of people who before the session proclaimed that traditional jazz wasn’t their cup of tea. Gretchen will likely keep her barstool facing the band through the whole set. The musicians tend to play in Gretchen’s direction.




Gretchen Valade has supported all jazz artists and their explorations into new forms. Sometimes it is good to get a shot of good time music and remember how it all got started.

When the Dirty Dogs finish, the good cheer will continue. That is probably the result of the music and the fact that this is music that is usually listened to with a drink in your hand.







Music has always had the purpose of helping us get through our day. Jazz continues to sweep us up and shake out the bad stuff.

Somewhere I read, ” When you bring New Orleans your sad story New Orleans will put a beat to it.” Bring your story to the Dirty Dog on Fat Tuesday through Saturday, they will put a beat to it.

John Osler




February 25






Seven of our best traditional jazz artists were assembled by drummer Pete Siers as a show of gratitude for one of jazz music’s greatest supporters, Gretchen Valade. For one night Gretchen was treated to the music that brought back fond memories of her first introduction to jazz while a student in New York. The band have named themselves: ” The Dirty Dogs”.



February 26 – 29





Don’t miss this chance to witness some high energy jazz that comes only from Detroit and our young artists. Jeff Canady will play drums the way every kid who has ever dreamed about getting a drum set would like to play. For four nights at the Dirty Dog he will play the role of the kid who got a drum set and then got really good.





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