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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.
April 24, 2019






Drum legend from Pontiac, Mich. Elvin Jones / photo: UK



Detroit has had its share of legendary drummers, with a long list that covers many decades and includes such luminaries and style makers as Elvin Jones, Roy Brooks, Louis Hayes, J.C. Heard, Don Moye, Ali Jackson, Pheeroan akLaff, Frank Isola, Art Mardigan, Tani Tabbal and many others.



Some current Detroit drummers who are making their “mark” on an international scale include Nate Winn, Karriem Riggins, Gayelynn McKinney, Leonard King, Alex White, Djallo Djakate, Mahindi Masai, Renell Gonzalves, Jessie Kramer, Gerald Cleaver, and the multi-award winning Sean Dobbins who performs with his band, “The Modern Jazz Messengers” at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe Wednesday May 8th, through Saturday, May 11th.





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Sean Dobbins at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe



Dobbins lists the following drummers, among those who have had a major influence on his playing: these include Art Blakey, Jeff “Tain” Watts and Elvin Jones.



Detroit Music Factory recording artist, Sean Dobbins, is one of the most “sought after” drummers performing today. He’s performed with such Jazz notables as Dr. Lonnie Smith, Johnny O’Neal, Cyrus Chestnut, James “Blood” Ulmer, Benny Golson,and many others.



He’s also one of the top Jazz educators in this region and is on the faculties at the University of Michigan, Oakland University and Wayne State University. He also serves as the Artistic Director of Jazz Ensembles for the Detroit Symphony and is the Executive Artistic Director of the South Eastern Music Academy.



The Dirty Dog is also presenting other talented drummers in the coming weeks. These include Willie Jones III April 26 and 27th, and Jeff Canady, May 29-June 1.



For information and to make reservations for Sean Dobbins and other upcoming performances at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, call 313-882-5299 or go to





Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist.









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April 22, 2019

On April 15 fire ravished Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.




Images of Our Lady of Paris burning filled our screens last week.  We often see fires burning other people’s forests or buildings. This was not the same. This was a safe place that we all shared and for almost a thousand years this beautiful building was a constant reminder that we as a people are OK. and we are capable of creating a peaceful and welcoming space that is filled with art and purpose and is itself a piece of art.




The Notre Dame Cathedral will be rebuilt because we will always need safe harbors.






We need safe places. We need places where we feel embraced yet free. We need a place that is beautiful to our eyes, ears and nose. In sports it is called the sweet spot and in life I don’t know what it is called, but you know it when you find it. When I was a boy I had a tree branch that I could climb to where no one else could bother me. I was tall and farseeing when I was there. I have had places to paint like that later in life.




Artists need places like this. They need people around them that help them find their “sweet spot”





Last week was a holy week for many. Around the world people gathered together to find peace of mind. Families reunited in their homes and in their places of worship. We were forgiven, fed and comforted in familiar safe places.  Monday of last week the Detroit Jazz Festival held their monthly jam session at the Dirty Dog. The club was jammed with players, fans and teachers. All night the door swung open for anyone and everyone. The place was full of good natured fellowship and jazz. No one was denied a chance to be heard. Everyone probably learned something. People moved about, took photographs or videos with their phones or professional cameras. I can safely say that all the photos and jazz came out pretty well. On Wednesday night Straight Ahead started a four day sold out  gig at the Dirty Dog. This was certainly a testimony to their talent but something else was happening. Straight Ahead who has had a history of breaking the mold was playing to a crowd that likes to see molds broken in a place that welcomes innovators.



When I was a boy our family would sit by the radio after dinner and listen to the news of the world. My sister and I were then sent off to bed. World War II was raging and I would have dark images in my head as I fell off to sleep.  I did have real heroes in my life and safe places to go. I knew that I was safe in my home and my school, and I thought of  my parents and my teachers as heroic guides. The principal of our small grade school was a strong man with authority who had a gift of listening and understanding vulnerable students.  He would spend time in our classroom and join us in our studies. We all  got approval from this grand man when we worked hard, so we worked hard, and when we did, we felt good about ourselves. We were safe in that school. It was a near perfect place. I keep finding special places filled with special people. One of those  places is the Dirty Dog Jazz Café






All are welcome as they come through the door and into the Dirty Dog. Artists, customers and staff will all be treated with respect when they are inside. This is a good place to be, surrounded by art and those people who embrace the arts and respect the artists.This is a place where you will not be judged as long as you don’t talk too loudly when the jazz is being played. There are no penalties for not knowing a lot about jazz or food.  Mistakes are made. Silverware and notes are sometimes dropped, but there is an abundance of forgiveness, and opportunities to learn. This week the Dirty Dog will welcome Trunino Lowe’s band for a two day gig starting Wednesday. Trunino will have his first gig at the Dirty Dog. There probably isn’t a sweeter spot to have this happen.


April 24 – 25





The Trunino Lowe Quartet is comprised of four friends who love to play together. The quartet features Trunino Lowe on trumpet, Louis Jones III on drums, Jonathon S. Muir-Cotton on bass and Sequoia Snyder on keyboard. The band will be performing original music and standards.
Trunino Lowe is a young up and coming trumpet player in Detroit. Serving as a composer, band leader, sideman and mentor at the age of 20, his passion for music shows on and off the band stand.  He has played with some big names of Detroit such as Marion Hayden, Wendell Harrison, Rodney Whitaker, Sean Dobbins, Marcus Elliot, and more.


April 26 -27





Ever since 1997, when he moved to New York City from Los Angeles, his hometown, Willie Jones III has been one of the jazz capital’s most prominent drummers. Whether functioning as a savvy bandleader or high-profile sideman, Jones applies to every context an abiding musicality and a tonal personality that, as Wynton Marsalis puts it, is “ever tasteful,” marked by what pianist Eric Reed, his frequent collaborator, calls “a West Coast swagger in his swing, with a looseness that isn’t lackadaisical and an edge that isn’t overwhelming.”

Willie Jones III was born in a musical family in Los Angeles and now lives in Brooklyn NY.

He has played, toured, and recorded with Horace Silver, Roy Hargrove, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton, and Herbie Hancock. He played on Arturo Sandoval’s Grammy-winning album Hot House (1998).




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April 17, 2019

bebop album cover


Vintage album cover/poster with Dizzy Gillespie;



Of all of the Jazz styles, Bebop remains as one of the most sophisticated both in its structure and intricate improvisational forms.



It has had lasting effect on modern Jazz since its early development in the 1940s and there haven’t been very many Jazz performances since that haven’t included elements of Bebop in one way or another. Its impact was profound.  It revolutionized Jazz for the ensuing decades – up until the present day.



The development of Bebop was a major turning point in Jazz. It emerged as younger musicians were breaking away from the popular, dance driven, Big Band music, which had dominated Jazz since the late 1920’s.






It signaled the dawn of modern Jazz – influencing new directions in Jazz and non-Jazz styles that emerged during the second half of the 20th century and even into the 21st century from Jump Music and Rock and Roll to Post-Bop, Avant-garde, Hip hop and more.



Miles Davis once said, “You can tell the history of Jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker”. Armstrong was a foundational figure who influenced the seminal styles of Jazz during its first 50 years and Parker took it from there.






Bebop’s star players and creators not only include Charlie Parker, but Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Kenny Clarke, Max Roach and others. Listen to any recordings from the 40s or 50s from these artists for an authentic Bebop experience.



The music is also known for group interaction through complex forms of improvisation while exploring rhythmic accents, manipulating scales with dense phrasing. It’s harmonically daring with band members weaving intricate patterns of notes at break neck speeds, many times in unison, while keeping the music accessible on most levels.



Bebop was still the hippest and most intellectual music of its time and a favorite of the beat generation. Looking back, and into the future, we can only respect the genre for its historical significance, fearless attitude, brilliant artists and sophisticated content.



“Bebop was a label that certain journalists later gave it, but we never labeled the music. It was just modern music, we would call it. We wouldn’t call it anything, really, just music.” A statement by drummer Kenny Clarke.



Bebop’s lasting effect can still be heard in much of the Jazz being performed around the world today. Musicians who play the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe often play the genre straight up or use Bebop related elements and improvisation techniques in their performance.   Listen for it the next time you are there.





Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.



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April 15, 2019





A group of people who genuinely love, trust, care about, and look out for each other.





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





Straight Ahead is a  jazz ensemble who genuinely love, trust, care about, look out for each other and play great jazz together.



My favorite definition of the word family  is that thing the jazz group Straight Ahead has. Maybe it is the band members’ quick-to-smile demeanor when in each other’s company that makes one think that they are a real family.

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

This group was formed 25 years ago by assembling some of Detroit’s best musicians who just happen to be women. They earned some breaks because they were just so good.  They have shown the world the strength and inventiveness of Detroit’s female artists. When they got their start women in most fields struggled to be heard. For sure they were great musicians, but it was their power, skill and the adventurous spirit of their music that propelled them into the world’s spotlight. Each member brought world class resumes and fresh ideas.

The steady heart of the group continues to be Eileen Orr, piano, Marion Hayden, bass, and drummer Gayelynn McKinney. In the beginning jazz violinist Regina Carter filled out the original quartet.  They got noticed playing venues around Detroit which led to their being tapped to play the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, leading off for Nina Simone. Soon after Regina left Detroit and began what has been a remarkable career as a soloist. They then added vocalist Cynthia Dewberry  before signing with Atlantic Records where they cut three albums. Straight Ahead has toured this country and abroad playing with musical greats including Nancy Wilson, Jean Luc Ponty, Roy Ayers, Tony Bennett, Dianne Reeves, Max Roach, Stanley Clarke and the Yellowjackets.




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

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





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

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




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










Straight Ahead is a Detroit jazz ensemble with a name that rings true for them.


“Straight ahead” is a term used to describe any jazz from the ’70s onward that  adheres closely to the historical traditions of jazz. I don’t think this completely describes this ensemble. I think they also have a vision and are actively pursuing it. They will assemble a crew that will not be looking back, that will bring others on the journey, and they will be staying on course. They will be staying true, showing up and bringing it every night.

Straight Ahead doesn’t always follow a narrow path in their music. They have a lot of fun getting to their destination and their audiences will usually be joyfully caught up in their journey.

This is what you can expect when you come out to see these Detroit musicians whose straight line has taken them around the world and straight back to the Dirty Dog.This week the band, starting Wednesday, will be at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for eight shows over four days. They will make some new friends with each appearance. They have a way of making a fan feel like a friend



It is starting out to be a cold week in our city for April, but by Wednesday it is scheduled to get warmer. At least at the Dirty Dog for the remainder of the week. Waves of warmth will leak out the door as the friendship and jazz overflows the joint.


John Osler




April 17 -20





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Straight Ahead’s founding members, the “Rhythm Sisters” (Marion Hayden on bass, Eileen Orr on piano and Gayelynn McKinney on drums),  will be joined by special guest John Douglas on trumpet and Yancyy on saxophone. These Grammy-nominated artists have traveled throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and Europe, garnering rave reviews. Their dynamic live performances are a celebration of power and joy.



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April 5, 2019





As a service to our Jazz Notes readers,  we are sharing the initial line-up of performers for this year’s Detroit Jazz Festival which is celebrating it’s 40 anniversary! Here are excerpts from the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation’s press release from this past week.



“We’re really excited about the exceptional lineup put together for the 40th year celebration which reflects a reunion of some of the most inspiring performers and performances we’ve had the pleasure of hosting over the last 10 years at the Jazz festival,” said Chris Collins, president and artistic director of the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation.


“From jazz legends to up-and-coming revolutionaries and Detroit homecoming artists, these artists have become a part of our extended family and it’s only appropriate they come back to headline our reunion year.”






Partial Initial Lineup 2019 Detroit Jazz Festival



This includes a real treat as former Artists-in-Residence Ron Carter, Pat Metheny, Joshua Redman, Danilio Pérez and Terence Blanchard will also take a stage for the Festival.



Below is an initial look at this year’s Festival lineup! What a list!



Friday, Aug. 30

o Danilio Pérez’s Global Big Band featuring the Detroit Jazz Festival Orchestra and Guests
o Artist-in-Residence: Stanley Clarke – Back-to- ‘School Days’
o The Soul Rebels
o Dr. Valade’s Brass Band led by New Orleans legend, Shannon Powell


Saturday, Aug. 31

o Macy Gray
o Ron Carter Quartet
o Yellowjackets with Luciana Souza
o Danilo Pérez’s Global Messengers
o Joe Lovano Nonet
o Untitled Artist: Cameron Graves with the Detroit Jazz Festival Generations Alumni Band
o Sheila Jordan
o The Soul Rebels




Stanley Clarke / Photo:


Sunday, Sept. 1
o Artist-in-Residence: Stanley Clarke – A night of jazz with the Stanley Clarke Band
o Kenny Garrett Quintet
o Terence Blanchard – AB2 – Art Blakey Project

o Dee Dee Bridgewater and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra
o Pat Metheny Ron Carter Duo
o John Pizzarelli Trio
o Untitled Artist: Cameron Graves
o Connie Han
o Red Baraat
o Veronica Swift
o Thornetta Davis




Pat Metheny / Photo “All About Jazz”



Monday, Sept. 2

o Artist-in-Residence: Stanley Clarke – ‘Boyz in the Hood’ featuring the Detroit Jazz Festival String Orchestra

o Pat Metheny: Side Eye
o Chucho Valdés – Jazz Batá
o Still Dreaming with Joshua Redman, Ron Miles, Scott Colley and Dave King
o Luciana Souza’s Book of Longing featuring Chico Pinheiro and Scott Colley
o Marialy Pacheco
o The Four Freshmen and 5 Trombones
o Michael Jellick Sextet


Go to the festival website for more information:




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.




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April 2, 2019




Fear can be debilitating. We can be frozen with fear. We can sometimes let fear get the better of us and cloud our judgement. We can be afraid of not doing the right thing, so we do nothing at all. We have a natural fear of failure and the consequences of failure.




We have real good reasons to let fear alert us to real danger. Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger; it has strong roots in human evolution. If we didn’t feel fear, we couldn’t protect themselves from legitimate threats. Confronting large beasts often led our relatives to deadly consequences. Today we often fear situations where the stakes are much lower, but our body and brain still treat the threat as lethal. This can trigger an extreme, and often unnecessary, fight, flight or freeze response. As a result, people may find themselves avoiding challenges, missing opportunities or holding back during a jazz jam session for no good reason. Jazz musicians can teach us about letting go of our fear of failure. Jazz musicians have few reasons to fear screwing up as failure is just part of the process.


Miles Davis did say –  “Do not fear mistakes, there are none.”



FREEDOM FROM FEAR   Norman Rockwell


The arts can be a safe haven from any of the fears of failing that you may have.



John Cleese – “Nothing will stop you from being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”



Herbie Hancock – “In the world of art there are no wrong choices.”



At the height of the depression FDR asked his nation to suck it up and carry on by stating,  “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” This could have been said by either Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong. Not worrying about what may lie ahead is something that happens moment to moment in any jazz band. Jazz forgives and forgives again on the fly. The note that wasn’t quite perfect becomes the new direction for the music.  Alert musicians see mistakes as opportunities.





Johnny O’Neil isn’t afraid of much.


When Johnnie O’Neil came to Detroit he would sometimes stay with his friend, Jeff Pedras, who is one of Detroit’s great bass players. Jeff told me a story about Johnnie spotting a piano in his house and then asking to play it. Jeff knew that this was a dreadfully out of tune piano that had been unused and neglected for many years. His embarrassment turned to wonder as Johnny teased magic into the living room. Jeff realized that Johnnie O’Neil was a very special pianist. Johnny took the instrument he was given and used its faults  to his advantage. He has faced adversity many times in his life. Johnny was born in Detroit and he plays like it. His piano and singing is beautiful but there is a sadness that sometimes comes through his luscious phrasing.

Pianist Johnny O’Neil will return to the Dirty Dog for four nights this April. If you miss him, don’t worry, you can go to New York and stand in a long line at the club he is playing to see him. He has developed a following that is deserved. Johnny is authentically one of a kind. He is self- taught, and he has had a great teacher. He has a large playlist, and he reintroduces us to the true meaning of each song.

Johnny never learned to read music, but he estimates his repertoire at about 1,500 songs, all  from memory. His education began at his childhood church in his native Detroit  By the time he was 25, he had logged almost 10 years as a professional there, in Birmingham, Ala., and in St. Louis.


Johnny O’Neil has made his living playing the piano his whole life. If that isn’t scary, what is?




Coleman Hawkins – “If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.




Musicians and a lot of music lovers are intimidated by jazz. It is hard to play and requires a foundation of hard work and skill that can be off putting.  Jazz can also be difficult to understand for those who are new to jazz. It is easy to find yourself not having a clue where a tune is going and then questioning if the artists really know what they are doing. You may be right. They might not know. Eventually we learn that it doesn’t matter.  Jazz  allows the musician to go fearlessly forward,  wherever the music takes them. We begin to understand that the artists aren’t afraid even though they may be entering unknown territory.  If they aren’t afraid, why should we be?

Jazz audiences will never be comprised of only highly trained musician-types. There will always be room for a lot of us who know only that something special is happening, and we will remain in awe of the fearless adventures that jazz artists will take on.


“In art there are no failures, and therefore there should not be any fear of failing.  Doing away with fear is essential to making truly great art.”

John Osler



No joking  it is April




April 3 – 6




Paul Pearce of Bass World magazine writes that “Pete absolutely ‘sings’ with his drum kit.”



A consummate professional, Pete has an international reputation for his “restless curiosity, attention to detail, and mastery of many different styles,” Pete will be familiar to  Dirty Dog regulars. Pete Siers has played with jazz luminaries such as Russell Malone, Mulgrew Miller, Marian McPartland, Lee Konitz, Benny Golson, James Moody, Kenny Werner, David “Fathead” Newman, Eddie Daniels, Frank Morgan, Scott Hamilton, Bob Wilber, and Barry Harris.  In addition to his expansive performance career, Pete has played on over 50 recordings.  He has played Carnegie Hall, festivals across the U.S.and has toured Europe several times.


April 10 -13






Detroiter Johnny O’Neal is a legendary jazz pianist and band leader.  Johnny has played with: Art Blakey (including a one year stint as a member of Blakey’s ‘Jazz Messengers’ ensemble), Clark Terry, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Joe Pass, Lionel Hampton, Anita O’Day, Sonny Stitt, Carmen MacRae, Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson, Sarah Vaughn, Wynton Marsalis, and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis.

His father, Johnny O’Neal, Sr., was a well-known jazz pianist and singer in Detroit.

He started his career at age 13 working at New Bethel Baptist Church in his hometown of

Detroit, MI as church pianist on Sundays for $10 per service.


April 17 -20






Straight Ahead’s founding members, the “Rhythm Sisters” (Marion Hayden on bass, Aleena Orr on piano and Gayelyn McKinney on drums),  will be joined by special guest John Douglas on trumpet and Yancy on saxophone. These Grammy-nominated artists have traveled throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and Europe, garnering rave reviews. Their dynamic live performances are a celebration of power and joy.


April 24 – 25





Trunino Lowe is a young up and coming trumpet player in Detroit. Serving as a composer, band leader, sideman and mentor at the age of 20, his passion for music shows on and off the band stand.  He has played with some big names of Detroit such as Marion Hayden, Wendell Harrison, Rodney Whitaker, Sean Dobbins, Marcus Elliot, and more. Trunino is currently a student at Wayne State University.


April 26 -27





Ever since 1997, when he moved to New York City from Los Angeles, his hometown, Willie Jones III has been one of the jazz capital’s most prominent drummers. Whether functioning as a savvy bandleader or high-profile sideman, Jones applies to every context an abiding musicality and a tonal personality that, as Wynton Marsalis puts it, is “ever tasteful,” marked by what pianist Eric Reed, his frequent collaborator, calls “a West Coast swagger in his swing, with a looseness that isn’t lackadaisical and an edge that isn’t overwhelming.”

He has played, toured, and recorded with Horace Silver, Roy Hargrove, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton, and Herbie Hancock.



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March 28, 2019

Jazz Note’s Detroit Birthday Profile: Trumpeter/Band Leader Thad Jones





The Thad Jones Mel Lewis Big Band, 1970  (You Tube)



One of the world’s great music centers, Metro-Detroit, has been the home of so many important musical artists over the years representing several genres. The multi-talented Thad Jones was a member of the musical Jones family from Pontiac, Michigan which also included two other Jazz Greats: Pianist, composer Hank Jones and iconic drummer, Elvin Jones.



Thaddeus Joseph Jones was born March 28, 1923, and died in Copenhagen, Denmark August 20, 1986. He was known all over the world as a Jazz composer, arranger, bandleader, as well as a virtuoso trumpet and flugelhorn player, and cornetist.



His amazing career spanned more than sixty years and associated him with such bands and orchestras as those led by some of the most influential and well-respected bands in Jazz including Count Basie, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and his own highly revered Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra.



The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra was a Jazz big band formed by trumpeter Thad Jones and drummer Mel Lewis in New York in 1965. The band performed for twelve years in its original incarnation, including a 1972 tour of the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. (Wikipedia)



In January 1979, Thad Jones suddenly moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, where several other U.S. jazz musicians had gone to live as expatriates. There he became the leader of The Danish Radio Big Band which he transformed into one of the world’s best Jazz bands. We recently discussed in our blog how many Jazz artists have moved to Europe where they felt the music received more respect and financial support.



Thad Jones was an extremely prolific artist and recorded more than 24 albums with Count Basie’s orchestra as well as recording four LPs with his younger brother Elvin Jones and one with his older brother, Hank Jones. Other leading artists he played and recorded with during his impressive career included Lou Donaldson, Dexter Gordon, Coleman Hawkins, Milt Jackson, and many others.  Thad Jones also recorded for such major Jazz labels as A&M, Blue Note, Debut and others.




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.




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March 26, 2019


Life is generally pretty good. I spend most of my life enjoying lolling about and sometimes doing the things that allow me to happily loll about.



A few times I have actually gotten to a place where I could perform with more focus.

In the arts we call this place ‘the  zone”.




A state in which one can or feels as though one can perform with exceptional focus, skill and energy.


As a painter I have suffered through periods of abject failure. Canvases covered with bad starts began to pile up against  basement walls. They wait quietly, reminding  me of my ineptness. They are a result of my hand holding a brush loaded with the wrong color going to the wrong place. This can last for long periods of time. It is important at these times that I don’t quit trying to paint, when painting is an act that can bring me such great pleasure. It will take a lot of slogging to get through to better times.






Then there are the times when after we work very hard and we persevere that we stumble on our best efforts. It is as if an outside force directs us to excel. At these moments we can’t miss. At these moments our vision is clear, and our hand is accurate.  I heard Wendell Harrison and Vaughn Klugh play a gig at the Scarab Club in Detroit, and I was the audience of one. They started out with some standard stuff, but then they seemed to anticipate each other as they took off to new places. They were playing for themselves. They came up to my studio after the gig and we talked. I told them that I thought they were playing at their peak. They both smiled and said that it was good, but they didn’t quite get in the zone. Only those in the zone know when they are in the zone. Everyone has these moments but no one can explain them.



In the zone is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, the zone is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one’s sense of space and time.



I can attest to  losing all sense of space and time while being lost in “the zone”. I was alone in an idyllic situation for a painter. I had rented a small house in an apricot orchard on a hillside in the South of France. I had fresh food, good wine and all the art supplies I needed to paint great paintings. I had nothing standing in my way to create something worthwhile.

For three days I turned bright oil paints into poorly placed pools of mud. Nothing worked. My visions didn’t appear on the canvases. I drank more wine and then tried skipping the wine. At the end of the day I set up outside as the sun was still above the hill. Surrounded by beautiful light I started to paint. I had a black and white photo I had taken in a small rural church early one morning near Jonestown, Mississippi. The photo was of a man who stood with dignity and from time to time gave an affirmative “Amen” to the children attending the Sunday School class. He combined the quiet strength, dignity and grace that working men often have.

I had been floundering, but now I started painting with surety, using only one wide brush that I cleaned with a rag. As the evening light faded I stopped painting and with a glass of wine in one hand and a the paintbrush in the other, I started to walk. A little later I found myself in the middle of a cherry orchard. The last of an orange glow in the west was my only clue how to get back home. Here is the painting.



The zone is not only my place but a place where all creative people find themselves, with luck, after working hard. When it happens to a visual artist we end up with something tangible like a painting, a photo, or a sculpture. A writer has their writing to show. Great actors sometimes find their characters using them, and their performances are taken to a level that can’t be explained.

In music, except on rare occasions when recording, it is an experience known only by the musicians and those who happen to be there and can discern the moment. You have to be there. It will make you smile.




I had a conversation with the young phenom Grace Kelley when she was at the Dog. We talked about how the best work comes out of a place when one is alone and has a single task. Later, while performing, she got noticeably lost in her music. She then told us a story about the song she was playing, a story was about about being alone in a motel room with her thoughts when suddenly the song emerged fully formed. She wrote the song down in just a few minutes. After she finished the story she looked over at where I was standing with my camera and smiled.


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Jazz artists have their own language when they speak to each other while playing together. Notice when their eyes close and and the corners of their lips curl up. Something pretty good is happening. On these rare occasions they may have entered the THE ZONE.


John Osler






James Dapogny showed up at the University of Michigan with a one year appointment in the music department and stayed on for forty years. James is best known in Ann Arbor for his ragtime jazz piano. I heard him some time ago on the Prairie Home Companion radio show on Saturday nights. Everyone was cheered up thanks to the “good time” music Jim favored. The jazz he played  was light hearted but not thoroughly studied. Professor Dapogny fixed that. He was a serious scholar, and thanks to James’ heart and scholarship, jazz pioneers like “Jelly Roll’ Morton will get their due recognition.




March 27 – 30





Planet D Nonet is a down & dirty little swing band from Detroit. It was founded by  a familiar face at the Dirty Dog, drummer, RJ Spangler, and his long time friend, trumpeter James O’Donnell. The Planet D Nonet is about swing, blues, space-age jazz and classic American songs all served with plenty of good humor with an eye toward turning people onto this kind of music. It’s worth coming out just for RJ’s  explanations of each tune’s origins and the stories behind the music.


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March 20, 2019

Judy Adams’s Jazz Notes: Jazz Goes Global





As we have mentioned in our blog many times over the years, Jazz and the Blues are two of the most influential music genres the world has ever known. They influenced the creation of most modern musical forms including R&B, Rock, Country, Funk, Hip Hop and more.


Blending cultural elements from various cultures from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and many more. These genres are also mostly made in America. With modern technology and the media, these styles ‘went viral” with the advent of radio and records nearly a century ago.  Jazz and Blues sonorities and rhythmic elements have reverberated all over the world since the beginning of the 20th century if not sooner.



European classical composers such as Rachmaninoff, Ravel, Debussy, Satie, were all drawn to Jazz and its influence is evident in their music. They were huge fans of Jazz, especially after be exposed to it on their visits to America.



More than ever, America needs to recognize and embrace Jazz as a major component of its cultural identity. Much like European countries have embraced Classical music as one of their major contributions to world culture. While Jazz has a huge following here at home, there’s still room for more Americans to accept Jazz as part of our musical heritage.



Today, Jazz has established itself as a major musical art form in Europe, Central and South America, and Asia. Countries with a fervent Jazz scene include France, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, and of course the U.S.



There are more than three thousand Jazz clubs worldwide in more than 100 countries and 38 American states. International Jazz Day is a yearly event on April 30, organized by UNESCO to celebrate “the virtues of Jazz as an educational tool, and a force for peace, unity, dialogue and enhanced cooperation among people”.



Many musicians have said that there seems to be more support, acceptance and appreciation for Jazz outside the U.S. than here at home. Major Jazz recording artists have consistently found more gigs in other countries than in America when on tour.These attitudes led to many artists becoming expatriates and moving to countries where there was more support for the music.



This includes well known artists such as civil rights activist, actress, singer, Josephine Baker, who became a huge star in France in the 1920’s and beyond. Also, saxophonist Dexter Gordon, who left the United States in the 1960s to live in, primarily, Paris and Copenhagen. There, he played with fellow expatriates and continued to record for Blue Note. He experienced better treatment in Europe, as a Jazz player, than he had in the United States.



The great Jazz singer/songwriter, pianist and activist,  Nina Simone, lived in Liberia, Switzerland, England, Barbados and elsewhere before eventually settling down in the South of France.




This is still happening today as American artists continue to find more financial support for their music in other countries who quite often pay artists a stipend to support their efforts to maintain a higher quality of life in their communities.



We must remember that America is still a young country. It needs to celebrate its highly influential cultural identity with Jazz – a true American art form, which is more highly revered elsewhere than it is here at home. American Jazz has had a major influence on most of the music around the world in the past 100 years. It’s time we acknowledged how much we have contributed to world culture. We have so much to be proud of.






Dexter Gordon spent years living and performing in Paris, France. In 1986, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the French film, Round Midnight and was awarded the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture. “Our Man in Paris” is a album he recorded in 1963. The album’s title refers to where the recording was made, Gordon (who had moved to Copenhagen a year earlier) teaming up with fellow expatriates Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke, both Parisian residents, and native Parisian Pierre Michelot.




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM. She made her mark at WDET 101.9FM where she was program director and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.






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March 18, 2019



Just over a week ago Willie Jones passed a note to a visiting pianist from New York, Emmet Cohen. Emmet then informed a sold out audience at the Dirty Dog that George “Sax” Benson had died. Emmet knows a lot about jazz and has always been drawn to Detroit’s jazz, yet when I asked him about George, he told me that he didn’t know either George or his music. He did know that the loss of any Detroit jazz artist is a major loss for jazz.


This news had the same effect on me as listening to country music often has, I was knocked back with sadness that was followed by a warm feeling that everything is going to be all right. The mention of George “Sax” Benson will bring a smile to the face of anyone who has been touched by his story and his music.



GEORGE “SAX” BENSON  1929-2019


One of the reasons that George isn’t a household name in America’s music history is because he was never interested in the spotlight. George had no problem playing in front of or talking to a throng of admirers, but reserved the right to also lead a satisfying private life. Important facts about George are that he retired from the post office after 30 years of service, that he was happily married for almost 64 years and that George could really play the sax. He was so good that he was asked to play with:


Lena Horne, Aretha Franklin, Debbie Reynolds, Glen Campbell, Milton Berle, Ella Fitzgerald, Edie Adams, Dinah Washington, Mel Torme, Nancy Wilson, Johnny Mathis, Diana Carroll, Four Tops, Temptations, Stevie Wonder, Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Kenny Burrell, Lionel Hampton, Benny Carter, Sonny Stitt, Gene Ammons, Errol Garner, Quincy Jones, Nelson Riddle, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Brook Benton, Jackson 5, Diana Ros, Bill Cosby, Lou Rawls, Tony Bennett, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae, Sheila Jordan, Rosemary Clooney, Mildred Bailey, Vic Damone, Martha Reeves, Rich Little, BB Queen, Regis Philbin, Michael Feinstein, Tommy Tune, Steve Allen, Della Reese, Sammy Davis, Jr., Louis Armstrong, Tommy Flanagan, Benny Golson, Earl Bostic, Pepper Adams, J.C. Heard, Ernie Wilkins, Peter Duchin, Hank Jones, Yusef Leteef, Doug Watkins, Willie Anderson, Paul Chambers


This long list of America’s most celebrated entertainers all thought that George was someone special. As important to George was knowing that he was special to his family and friends. George was successful at living the life he chose to live. Wouldn’t be nice If we all could be so lucky?






George Benson chose a life in music but would never allow music to choose his life. He told me once that he was a very lucky man. He came into music at a time when there were a lot of gigs. Early in his life Detroit was a good town to be a musician. TV shows needed live bands, people liked to dance to live music, and there were plenty of jazz clubs.

George realized that he could finish a mail route by 4PM and still get a couple of evening music gigs. He had a plan. He could get out and share his music and his family would have a secure life.  He didn’t have to go on the road.  He would never be so famous that Emmet Cohen would have heard of him, but his family and local jazz fans sure knew that this was a remarkably gifted man.


The last time I saw George was at his last gig at the Dirty Dog.


George just had his 87th birthday and his birthday gift to us was his tone and phrasing. When I watched George play,  he sometimes seemed to disappear from the moment and take us on a trip into his past. I felt his emotions even though I didn’t know what episode in his life had just reappeared in his thoughts. Listening to George play a ballad we know that George has experienced some love. As he played, George’s face showed his story as much as his saxophone.


Here is a blog that I posted after George played his last gig at the Dirty dog.



“No problem, he will be here.”  Willie Jones


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 Cafe, often is that someone.

That night a pretty full house was settling in to see one of Detroit’s legendary jazz-men, George “Sax” Benson. As showtime was approaching,  George was missing. The piano player didn’t know where he was, the drummer said he was coming on his own and the bass player said, “Oh…oh…. this is unlike George.”  All eyes turned to Willie. Willie will certainly handle this. Everything will be alright. The lights dimmed which is the signal to us that the musicians are on their way to the bandstand. Happy clinks of knives and forks on porcelain mixed with laughter as the celebrants  waited for the music to start. No one including Willie knew where George was or if he would be there.

I watched in semi-panic as events unfolded. I looked at Willie who looked 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, unshaken, his attitude was calming and reassuring.

Whew, no problem, things will be alright, and they were. It turns out that George got waylaid in traffic and did arrive late. Willie had the piano trio go on until George arrived, and then George played an extra 30 minutes making this a great night for those who came to hear this master of the music. George’s unbridled joy in playing to an appreciative and understanding audience was on full display.

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





 Detroit Jazz Festival will be jamming at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café on the 3rd Monday of each month until the Detroit Jazz Festival.








The third Monday of each month the Dirty Dog Jazz Café opens its doors for the Detroit Jazz Festival sponsored OPEN JAM. This Monday the house band will be once again filled with some of Detroit’s finest jazz artists and educators. Anyone lucky enough to hear about this evening will be treated to some serious musical strutting as the young musicians unpack their best stuff and put forward their challenges to any old thinking. The evening always seems to build in intensity as the night goes on.

When Bing Crosby would attend jam sessions, the musicians would say he was “jammin’ the beat”, since he would clap on the one and the three. It is thought that these sessions became known as “jam sessions”.


In February after the jam ended some tips on “jamming the beat”were handed out. Two of Detroit’s very best jazz artists stayed around to spend some time with a group of earnest young drummers. Marion Hayden brought her bass a little closer to Sean Dobbins drum kit and started playing the song that the young drummer being instructed by Sean had played earlier that evening. She pointed out to him that he had not supplied the beat during the jam when she gave him a signal that she needed it. Sean demonstrated and the young drummer will not forget the lesson nor will those watching. No ones feelings were hurt. Jazz artists seem to be able pass on the rules of the game from generation to generation more as a gift than an admonishment. Come on out and watch the torches get passed.

John Osler






March 20 – 23





Rayse Biggs will bring his gravity defying music  to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for four nights of authentic Detroit jazz. Rayse has always attracted talented musicians to play alongside him. Come and hear why.


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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.
        Drum legend from Pontiac, Mich. Elvin Jones / photo: UK   [..]
On April 15 fire ravished Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.       Images of Our Lady of Pari [..]
  Vintage album cover/poster with Dizzy Gillespie;     Of all of the Jaz [..]
Each week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosts live performances from the greatest jazz musicians across the country.
Ron English : Tuesday Nights
STARTS: Tue, January 01 2019
ENDS: Tue, December 28 2021
Dave McMurray
STARTS: Wed, May 01 2019
ENDS: Sat, May 04 2019
Sean Dobbins Modern Jazz Messengers
STARTS: Wed, May 08 2019
ENDS: Sat, May 11 2019
Michael Zaporski
STARTS: Wed, May 15 2019
ENDS: Thu, May 16 2019
Jason Marsalis
STARTS: Fri, May 17 2019
ENDS: Sat, May 18 2019