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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.
December 13, 2019

Rayce Bills, DirtyDogJazzCom.


Photo of Rayse Biggs at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe by John Osler



Trumpeter Rayse Biggs returns to the Dirty Dog stage this weekend, from Wednesday December 11 through Saturday December 14th. He puts on a great performance every time he plays as he is not only a very talented trumpeter but is one of Detroit’s most gifted entertainers as well.    He’s backed by an all-star band that includes pianist, Maurice O’neal, bassist Ibrahim Jones or Christopher Albert, and drummer Patrick Doran.



Rayse comes from a strong musical background having been raised in a musical family where almost everyone played an instrument. I love it when he tells the audience that he’s never had stage fright because he was always playing for “family” from the beginning.


As with so many musicians, the piano was his first instrument but he soon became interested in the trumpet as an early teen ager after seeing and hearing the great Marcus Belgrave perform at his Junior High school in 1969. Marcus had a reputation as being an effective educator and was known to many young music students as a teacher and mentor, and he soon took young Rayse “under his wing”.



Now, Rayse is an effective mentor and educator himself, working with new and emerging students of Jazz. He has developed popular youth music programs with the Detroit Symphony, Plymouth Education Center and working with various schools throughout the metropolitan Detroit area.


Photo of Rayse Biggs at the Dirty Jazz Cafe, by John Osler



After graduating from Detroit’s Chadsey High School in 1972, Mr. Biggs went on the road with a number of Motown acts including Smokey Robinson, the Marvelettes and the Temptations, and others. This was when Motown was at its peak with with some of the most popular groups in the world.



Later, his brother Travis, a violinist, took him to the Metropolitan Arts Complex, where a young Rayse had a chance to meet Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard, who would “play licks on the phone for me to learn,” Mr. Biggs says. “It was just a blessing for me and my career to have contacts with artists at this level who were taking an interest in me.”



Since then his talents and musical travels have taken him far and wide to such distant places as Senegal and elsewhere around the globe, performing a diverse blend of modern and classic styles with the likes of Kem, Was Not Was, The Dramatics, Kidd Rock, Bob Dylan, Matthew Chicoine and Recloose and many others. Rayse’s live performances reflect these exciting career experiences that add to the depth and breath of his music that he shares with us while he’s on stage.





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 (NPR), where she was Director of Programming and daily on-air music host for more than 30 years.

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December 11, 2019



It is December and the year is coming to an end. For me 2019 was a year of discovery and transition. I have discovered that I am getting old and creaky and I find myself transitioning from being cautious into becoming pretty predictable and boring. Maybe I need a jolt of purpose. I must seize every opportunity.

It is December, and life gets harder for those who are without shelter and those who cannot provide for their families,while those all around them are shopping for gifts and holiday decorations.
It is December and we all will have a chance to make things a little bit better for those around us. This time of year brings an abundance of opportunities, and regardless of our own situation we all have something to offer. I will witness
simple acts of kindness all around me as we enter the holidays. We all benefit, as it turns out that giving to others turns out to be one of our best self enrichment programs.  Just ask those who have enrolled.
It is December and your mailbox will be filled with requests for end of the tax year donations.
It is December, and this could be the best part of our year for those who just have the habit of giving because that is who they are all year round.



Here are three people who came together this December to show us what the spirit of giving looks like.They all knew that there were some things that needed to be done, and they stood up because that is who they are.


Gretchen Valade with COTS CEO Cheryl Johnson




I was sitting at the bar at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café when a friend nudged me on the back and whispered that she remembered her mother singing the soulful song that Alvin Waddles was playing. She said that when her mother sang I Cant Give You Anything But Love, Baby to her father in the 1930s, they would both cry. It was the height of the depression and this song struck home. It was a time in their life when love had to carry the day. Difficult times leave a deep impression on those who are starting out in life. The woman sitting next to me was a lucky kid who has a memory of loving parents, parents who demonstrated the positive effects of music and gentleness on their lives.

Music is still an important part of Gretchen Valade’s life, as is her desire to give back to those who may be struggling.



Three days later Gretchen and the Dirty Dog hosted two nights of music to bring attention to and help fund the community agency COTS.Taking credit is not something Gretchen is very good at doing. Gretchen has always shunned deserved attention for her good deeds. They are hard to hide. When she sees  a need, she acts.

Gretchen’s contributions to jazz in our community are well know and gives us a glimpse of her generosity.

In 2019, after 10 years of respecting everyone who comes in the door of the Dirty Dog Gretchen  has established a refuge for kindred spirits. Here in a posh neighborhood where they consider a 60 foot elevation a hill and most streets have British names sits a magnet for a very diverse audience for America’s music, jazz.  For two days it was filled with like minded patrons. Everyone wanted to help.




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






Last week the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe hosted two evenings with Herbie Russ, a soulful performer who wears many musical hats: singer, saxophonist, keyboardist, producer and songwriter. He was part of fundraising events for The Coalition on Temporary Shelters.



With a voice reminiscent of Joe Cocker Herbie delivers each song with passion and soulful emotion, which is fitting as his performances will benefit families served by COTS in Detroit.

Herbie Russ’s background is very public because he wants it to be.

Herbie dropped out of school in the 11th grade, and was then kicked out of his parent’s home for doing drugs. A very gifted saxophone player, Herbie would ride his bike 10 miles to play with bands in exchange for drugs or money. He would go on the road with a variety of acts where he had the benefit of staying in hotels. He spent years staying in hotels, couch-surfing, and living in a car. After years of drifting, homelessness, drugs, and being arrested, he eventually turned to God and said “You’ve given me this talent, I need some direction.”



At his darkest moment Herbie was led to a homeless shelter, where he offered to sing and play. He began to donate all the tips from his gigs to the homeless shelter. After donating thousands of dollars, Herbie continues to use his gifts to support shelters across the U.S.

In 2017 Herbie Russ performed on America’s Got Talent where he wowed the judges.

He is doing well, and he appreciates all the help along the way. Herbie’s joy at being able to contribute along with his compassion and understanding carried the evenings. He gave us two great nights. Thanks to Herbie Russ and his band.







Coalition On Temporary Shelter CEO  Cheryl P. Johnson

COTS exists to alleviate homelessness by enabling people to achieve self-sufficiency and obtain quality affordable housing. Started as a church project in 1982, today the organization manages multiple facilities with a staff of more than 90 people and an annual budget in excess of $7 million. Annually, COTS serves more than 2,000 Detroit-area homeless people in its emergency shelter and approximately 450 individuals and families in its transitional and permanent housing programs.



CEO Cheryl  P. Johnson has been at the helm of the Coalition On Temporary Shelter for 27 of its 35-year history.

Prior to coming to COTS, Cheryl was working with youth. She remembers when  a young man that was aging out of her program – when he turned 18, he would literally be homeless. When the staff bid him farewell, they sent him to COTS, and that was the first time she heard of the organization. Years later, she came to have a deeper understanding of the issues related to homelessness.

When she came to COTS in 1990 as the Shelter Director her intention was to stay for two years and go back to working with children – 27 years later, she is still at COTS.

Cheryl guided Cots from offering mostly emergency shelter to develop transitional housing, which is another form of shelter for the people we serve where they can stay up to two years. As we developed transitional housing, we started to learn more about permanent affordable housing and how to use Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to develop it. I started traveling around the country – San Francisco, Chicago, New York – to visit the locations that had the best developments in the country, and I honestly fell in love with the whole notion that we can end homelessness. That’s why she stayed so long.

Here is Cheryl’s take on COTS “One of the things that struck me was that many of the heads of homes who I met as children in the early 90s were coming back now as adults with their own children. The question that raised was: Why didn’t giving them housing break that pattern? What I realized was that we couldn’t focus solely on homelessness because homelessness is really a symptom of poverty. So if we don’t take on the issue of poverty, then we’re going to be in business forever – and that’s not what we want.

That’s when we decided to create a theory of change that could be a serious tool that helps families move out of poverty. The framework we created is called the Passport to Self-Sufficiency. It’s a coaching model centered on building really robust relationships with our families and coaching them through goal setting. We don’t just look at housing; we also look at health and wellbeing, education, career development, and economic mobility. We help them create goals in every one of those areas. And we don’t just help the head of household; we also look at the children so it’s a two-generation approach.

Our resources are aimed at impacting the next generation in the hopes to end the cycle of poverty and homelessness one family at a time.

Cheryl studied classical music, she still sings and she even  put out a CD a few years ago,  it’s another gift that she shares with others.

I spend time around jazz musicians who seem to be completely reverse wired. Jazz musicians seldom deliberately do the right thing. It is just part of what music brings to their life when they sign up. The older they get the younger they play. They never seem to acknowledge that they should just fade away. Jazz musicians are also generally giving people who don’t expect huge rewards other than a chance to play their music. Jazz artists likely are not aware of what all the studies have shown, that giving and getting rewards as incentives does not lead to as good a result as a task done selflessly.

Here are some study results on giving that I stumbled on.

Psychologists often distinguish between intrinsic motivation (wanting to do something for its own sake) and extrinsic motivation (for example, doing something in order to snag a goody). The first is the best predictor of high-quality achievement, and it can actually be undermined by the second. Moreover, when you promise people a reward, they often perform more poorly as a result.

Scores of studies and personal case histories point to the benefits of an attitude of extreme giving at work. The greatest source of motivation is a sense of service to others; focusing on the contribution of our work to other people’s lives has the potential to make us more productive than thinking about helping ourselves.

Being able to give and to do for others seems to be very rewarding for older people, and seems to reinforce their own sense of independence and well-being.

Most reports found that givers are happier and healthier and have a greater sense of purpose in life. This is not just in terms of giving money to formal charitable organizations but also extends to informal acts of kindness.

Gretchen, Herbie and Cheryl seem to have figured all this out all on their own.

John Osler




December 11 – 14





Known for his dual horn playing technique, recording artist Rayse Biggs is one of the most dynamic horn players today. Often referred to as Trumpeter Extraordinaire, Rayse has received local and national commendations for his contribution to music. He continues to be sought out to accompany other artists, including Kid Rock, Fred Hammond, Alexander Zonjic and Kem.


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December 6, 2019

Ali Jackson


Drummer,  Ali Jackson



Detroit has been blessed with great Jazz musicians living and performing here who have gone on to play on the world stage. As we’ve mentioned in many of our previous blogs, this has been the case since the Jazz idiom developed during the turn of the 20th century and is still happening.



Our Jazz Note profile series spotlights great musicians from Detroit, whether they’re still with us or whether they’ve passed on. These artists have made significant contributions to the world of music whether it’s Jazz, R&B, Rock, Hi-Hop, Classical, or what’s in between. Detroit has an excellent history with Jazz and is now considered to be one of the world’s great musical cities. Some of the great artists from Detroit no longer live here but are taking the Detroit sound wherever they go as they tour all over the world.



One such artist is drummer Ali Jackson, not to be confused with his famous father, Jazz bassist, Ali Jackson, Sr.



Ali Jr. is yet another Jazz artist who went to Detroit’s Cass Tech High School. In fact, it’s amazing how many musicians and artists studied at this outstanding educational institution! Everyone from Alice Coltrane and Kenny Burrell to Geri Allen, Regina Carter, and many others.



Born in New York City, April 3, 1976, art and music education was an integral part of his upbringing. Shortly after relocating to Detroit, Jackson found himself immersed in serious study, mentorship, and training.



Ali’s strong devotion to music started as a youth. He actually began playing drums at the age of 2 and piano at the age of 5. Being a professional musician himself, it was his father who gave him an intense introduction to Jazz.



Ali Jackson (plaid vest)


In 1993 he graduated from Cass Tech and in 1998 was the recipient of Michigan’s prestigious “Artserve” Emerging Artist award. As a child, he was selected as the soloist for the “Beacons Of Jazz” concert, which honored legend Max Roach at New School Jazz at Lincoln Center University. After earning an undergraduate degree in music composition at the New School University for Contemporary Music, he studied under drum legends, Elvin Jones and Max Roach.



In 2004 Jackson returned to Detroit and donated instruments and conducted numerous master classes in the effort to improve music knowledge and awareness for Detroit Public School students. He continues to share his passion for Jazz through educational outreach projects and self-motivated endeavors. Jackson’s musical knowledge has been shaped by a diverse musical career. He has been inspired by many musical genres including blues and funk, classical, Latin jazz, gospel, and musical influences from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and elsewhere.



His discography and performance archive includes such notables as Wynton Marsalis, Arethas Franklin, Tony Bennett, Faith Hill, Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Benson, Harry Connick Jr. Marcus Roberts, Joshua Redman,  Seito Kinen Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa, New York Philharmonic, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the New York City Ballet.






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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December 3, 2019

John Osler                                   Santa                                          oil/canvas




Living in Michigan in the month of December is a challenge. It is November without the promise of of a few warm days. The notorious lake effect, shortened days, first snows and the threat of winter can take a toll. Five of the ten cities with the most depressing winters are located downwind from one of the Great Lakes. Lake-effect cloud cover makes winter sunshine a rare sight in these places. Great lakes means Less sun, Overcast skies, Overwhelming depression and general Malaise.





Gloom is partial or total darkness, a dark or shadowy place or lowness of spirits. 
Gloom is an amorphous melancholy that can exist in even perfect conditions and thrive when it seems that things aren’t going to get better, like December in Michigan.
We can get some comfort knowing that there are forces working to keep gloom at hand.
There will be no more grass cutting or yard work for a while. Longer nights mean that we will have more guilt free time to hole up and read. A sighting of the sun, a smile or a small act of kindness can make a difference. A place where they are dedicated to lifting your spirit can make a big hole in the gloom.



I have little to complain about in my life even on a wet dark December day in Michigan. It is hard though to get up from the couch and go into the unfriendly environment of early winter. It doesn’t take long once I come through the door at the Dirty Dog to realize what a smart move I made to show up here.


A place where a busy staff always seems to be enjoying their tasks.



A place where there is warmth built into everything.





A place that has gloom resistant walls


Even before the music starts, the center plated portions of food arrive, and the beverages take effect, the art scattered around the Dirty Dog will start to lift all grumpiness out of your life.



The walls are covered with whimsical images of dogs, jazz artists, cupids and more dogs.




If this doesn’t cheer you up the club will bring in seasonal decorations that just add to the warmth of the place.




It is a place that serves up antidepressant jazz music.


The finisher is the act of getting lost in the music. Gloom is a goner, joy wins again.



It is a place where I can look at one of my paintings that hangs on a wall in the Dirty Dog.


Ron Carter; Musician, Legend and Cass Tech Graduate


All winter, very time I look at this painting I think back to a warm summer day.






It was a beautiful summer day and I had a lot of outdoor projects lined up. In the morning of this near perfect day I learned that the jazz legend Ron Carter was going to be at the Dirty dog Jazz Café. He was in town and offered  to spend some time with fortunate local high school students from the Detroit Jazz Festival program. Reluctantly I said goodbye to the warm sun filled backyard. I packed up my camera,  I headed over to the Dog, and I went out of the sunshine into one of my most soul enriching experiences of 2016.




The students had arrived and set up to play some music. There was some youthful jabbering until Ron Carter arrived. Ron Carter looks as good in person as he does on his CD covers, only taller and even more elegant. He introduced himself to a suddenly very quiet group of young jazz musicians. He asked them to play and soon with some gentle nudges a relaxed band entered into a shared learning experience. Here was a player of jazz music who has had an entire  lifetime at the top of his craft listening carefully to some Detroit kids starting out. His taking the time didn’t go unnoticed.

Ron Carter was gently but firmly showing our next generation how a man acts and a jazz man plays.


Another way to chase the blahs is to settle in with a good book.







If you want to learn something about jazz in Detroit, this is the book. Mark Stryker covered music and art for The detroit Free Press for 21 years before leaving to write this book.This is his take on what has kept Detroit constantly producing so many influential jazz artists. Mark has the advantage of having been there. The reader benefits from Mark’s relationship with Detroit’s jazz artists. He has asked them  direct questions through the years and has gotten honest answers. This process came from his deep personal interest in how and why  Detroit with its ups and downs has seen its music persevere and thrive. His personal insights makes this book stand alone.  Mark explains jazz in Detroit  Mark has the skills to make it come alive. He ties together a lot of things we already know. Free up some time by the fire for this new book.




JAZZ BOOK cover4

Cover photo of Will Austin at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café




Documenting The Legacy Of Gretchen Valade

If you ever want to be reminded of the great story of jazz and Detroit in photographs, you might consider picking up the book, DETROIT JAZZ  Documenting the legacy of Gretchen Valade. The book is a collection of my photographs of Detroit’s great jazz artists shot at venues that have been made possible by the generous acts of Gretchen Valade. It is my  attempt to document the results of one woman’s dream,  I wanted the world to know that Detroit’s jazz community has never faltered.The photos are witness.I would like to thank all of the local and national artists who performed in these venues. Opening the door to this remarkable world were Gretchen’s right hand, Tom Robinson, Chef André Neimanis, Manager Willie Jones and all the staff of the Dirty Dog. Thanks also to the Detroit Jazz Festival and it’s director, Chris Collin. Special thanks to Gretchen, whose strength and foresight have provided the gentle push for both the music and this book. I hope that the book respects and honors all of the artists, Detroit and Gretchen.

If you ever want to be reminded of this great story of jazz and Detroit in photographs, you might consider picking up the book.

Here are some pages from the book.

detroit Jazz 10 0458 detroit Jazz 10 0416 detroit Jazz 10 0413 _DSC1430 detroit Jazz 10 0431 detroit Jazz 10 0422 detroit Jazz 10 0432 detroit Jazz 10 0441 detroit Jazz 10 0445 detroit Jazz 10 0450 detroit Jazz 10 0429 detroit Jazz 10 0420


You can order the book online on Amazon or for a signed copy contact us at or call John at 313.886.4728 and we will get books out to you.



Let your good nature prevail. Quit moping. Kick dreariness out of your life. Bring your good nature out of hibernation. Enjoy December in Detroit.


John Osler




December 4 – 7


John Osler                            Dave                               oil/canvas




Dave McMurray edits everything out except his personal thoughts, his power and his compelling spirit. Detroit knows David and Detroit know jazz.

One of the jazz world’s greatest spirits will strip away any of your late winter blahs this week. Bring your most youthful attitude. David deserves and accepts applause.





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December 2, 2019




The saxophone is one of the most significant instruments in Jazz and one of Detroit’s most celebrated saxophonists, Dave McMurray, will be performing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, December 4-7.



Mr. McMurray has a diverse background in Jazz, as a composer, bandleader and saxophonist. He is fluent in many diverse styles from R&B and funk to avant-garde Jazz and everything in between.



His shows are usually sold out as he is one of the most popular artists on the Dirty Dog stage. He plays and tours with some of the biggest names in Jazz and popular music. The list is impressive and includes a long list of artists, ranging from The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan to Herbie Hancock, Bootsy Collins,  Rayce Biggs, Don Was and the  esteemed late pianist Geri Allen and many others.



DaveMcMurrayAtDirtyDog Jazz Cafe...

Dave McMurray at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

Photo: John Osler



He brings this musical diversity to his latest album, “Music is Life”, his seventh release, which came out in 2018 on Blue Note records. Each song is different with compositional elements ranging from Jazz, Funk, Rock, Soul and more, clearly reflecting his multi-faceted career.



“Music is Life” contains many of  Dave’s original compositions as well as covers of the White Stripes, the Parliament-Funkadelics, French singer Johnny Halladay, and many others.



The role of the saxophone has changed a bit over the years but it remains a prominent voice in the Jazz idiom and usually leads the band, “front and center”.



No instrument is more identified with Jazz than the saxophone. The saxophone is to Jazz what the banjo is to Bluegrass. Dave McMurray’s playing, composing and arranging reflect the diversity of the instrument as he draws on many styles and periods of Jazz and modern music.



Aside from Jazz and music for marching bands, we can also hear early uses of the saxophone by some definitive 20th century Classical composers such as  George Gershwin, Maurice Ravel, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Aaron Copeland, Leonard Bernstein and others.



A member of the woodwind family, the saxophone is usually made of brass and played with a single-reed mouthpiece. It was invented in 1840 and comes in various shapes and sizes:




Another world renowned Detroit born saxophonist, James Carter, here
with a baritone saxophone:


JamesCarter and Baritone Sax




Don’t miss Dave McMurray at the Dirty Dog,December 4-7. For tickets and information, go to or call 313-882-5299.




Detroit Public Radio mainstay, Judy Adams, is a trained pianist, composer and musicologist who hosts a Jazz and contemporary music show on CJAM 99.1FM and guest hosts on WRCJ 90.9FM.




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November 25, 2019





The blessing of the harvest happens around the world signaling that the growing season is over, and one should start thinking about hunkering down for the winter. I always start the holiday season by thanking whoever it was that decided to have us celebrate Thanksgiving on a Thursday, thus guaranteeing us a four day holiday. This gives us three days to recover, to visit with family and to renew old friendships.

Thanksgiving  is a straightforward name for a holiday.  It is a command and is an opportunity. We are given this day to be with our family and friends to express our appreciation for our good fortune. I am always comforted, and I am truly thankful when I look around after dinner and see a well fed family warmed by good feelings for one another. I am also often thankful for a quiet moment alone after overeating once again.

Thanksgiving is a holiday when we do not shop because we are being thankful for the things we have and are saving our energy for Black Friday. Thanksgiving is a time to relax, tell well worn family jokes, watch the Lions and then recover from watching the Lions.

We will gather at our house in 2019 with three generations of talkers, all with something to say.  There is no longer a kiddies table and an adult table. We will have one adult table and one adult conversation. Well sort of adult, as we have accumulated enough tales to tell that will bring guffaws, sly smiles and happy tears to our eyes.



The Gathering

a Thanksgiving Poem by Billy Collins


Outside, the scene was right for the season,
heavy gray clouds and just enough wind
to blow down the last of the yellow leaves.

But the house was different that day,
so distant from the other houses,
like a planet inhabited by only a dozen people

with the same last name and the same nose
rotating slowly on its invisible axis.
Too bad you couldn’t be there

but you were flying through space on your own asteroid
with your arm around an uncle.
You would have unwrapped your scarf

and thrown your coat on top of the pile
then lifted a glass of wine
as a tiny man ran across a screen with a ball.

You would have heard me
saying grace with my elbows on the tablecloth
as one of the twins threw a dinner roll across the room at the other.






Giving thanks is very personal. Ordinary things happen in our lives that we take for granted until Thanksgiving. On this day we give thanks that there will be someone to stand up and give us a hand or a nudge when we need it. We remember all the unbelievably beautiful moments that have filled our hearts with pure joy or made us lose control with uncontrollable laughter with a friend. We remind ourselves of the good feeling when we can bring some comfort to someone by our actions. We recognize all the good people who have resisted and who are standing up to power. We are especially thankful for all those who listen and care. These are extraordinary gifts.





Thanksgiving in colonial times was a harvest holiday in which the colonists offered thanks for a good harvest. Thanksgiving became a regularly celebrated national holiday only during the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a day of national Thanksgiving in 1863. The holiday later became fixed to the fourth Thursday in November by an act of the United States Congress in 1941. I am thankful that they did. Also,


I am thankful for family and friends.

I am thankful to those who saved my life a couple of years ago.

I am thankful that my children and grandchildren put their phones away when we are talking.

I am thankful to God for my life, my purpose and my many reasons to be thankful.

I am thankful for all the good people at the Dirty Dog.


DSC_0738 _DSC8629




I give thanks for the polite and respectful folks who will come out to the Dirty Dog for three evenings of Detroit jazz this week. The Dirty Dog Jazz Café will be closed and the music muted on Thanksgiving Day. Don’t despair. On Wednesday, Friday and Saturday the Dog will be filled with Alvin Waddles’ positive energy spurred on by a room full of appreciative faces and clapping hands, all performed at the appropriate moments. There will be plenty of jazz, good food and thankfulness for all.

Alvin knows how to bring the holiday spirit into a room. So, take a break, leave the dishes and leftovers for a moment and come with your friends and family to a warm place where large helpings of smiles and service come with the music, food and drinks.

Everyone at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café wishes all their friends and musical family the warmest of Thanksgivings.


John Osler




November 20, 22, 23

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Pianist, singer, composer, musical director and good guy.


Wow! What better way to celebrate the Thanksgiving break than to come out to the Dirty Dog to hear a Detroit original, Alvin Waddles. Alvin will swing into the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this coming week. Alvin in old English means elf friend, making  Alvin’s parents a little prophetic. Alvin does have an elfin twinkle in his eye when he performs. He has enormous talent that he uses with grace. For many of us he is the friendly face of jazz.

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




DSC06111 169

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November 21, 2019



dukeEllington.the famous


Duke Ellington / Photo from “”




Composer, pianist, band leader, Duke Ellington, photo:



Jazz has always had a modern element to it since its inception in the late 1800’s. As with most other art forms there have been artists along the way who were on the cutting edge of the next future trends. This allowed Jazz to keep redefining itself and stay contemporary as an art-form; encouraging artists to experiment with new sounds and styles.



Since Jazz was a rather new musical art-form, it didn’t start blossoming out in new directions until the beginning of the 20th century which was a great time filled with new discoveries and technology that were about to change the world with electricity and cars as well as telephones, cameras, phonographs, movies, radio, and much more that had a huge impact on music.



As Jazz was growing as a genre, many Jazz historians list many sub-genres that were taking Jazz in new directions such as Ragtime and Dixieland at the turn of the century followed by Swing and Big Band music of the 1930’s to 1950’s pioneered by Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman.  The 1950’s also brought early versions of “Free Jazz”  which was very improvisational with the musicians breaking down familiar Jazz conventions by altering chord progressions, instrumentation, tempos and melodic forms.  Many felt that modern Jazz per se started with BeBop in the 1940s.



The Bebop era  was the most contemporary Jazz had ever been to that pointe in time. With its fast tempos, instrumental virtuosity, unique time signatures and wild scale patterns, it gave musicians the freedom to explore these exciting new territories. Its major artists included Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and others.



John Coltrane performs on stage at the Half Note club, New York, 1965. (Photo by Adam Ritchie/Redferns)

John Coltrane

John Coltrane performs on stage at the Half Note club, New York, 1965. (Photo by Adam Ritchie/Redferns,



Other major stirrings came in the 1950s, with the early work of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor and many others. In the 1960s, performers and composers included Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Pharaoh Sanders, John Coltrane, and others. Coltrane championed many younger free Jazz musicians, (notably Archie Shepp), and under his influence, Impulse! became a leading free Jazz record label.



New forms of “modern Jazz” continued to emerge from the band stands an recording studios.  In June of 1965, Coltrane and ten other musicians recorded “Ascension”, a 40-minute long piece that included adventurous solos by the young avant-garde musicians (as well as Coltrane), and was controversial primarily for the collective improvisation sections that separated the solos. His group consisted of  McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison and Art Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on Drums. ‘Trane described the piece in a radio interview, as a “big band thing” even though it was far from it!



After recording with the quartet over the next few months, Coltrane invited Pharoah Sanders to join the band in September 1965. While Coltrane used over-blowing frequently as an emotional ( emotional free expression) exclamation-point, Pharoah would opt to over-blow his entire solo, resulting in a constant screaming and screeching in the middle and high range of the instrument.



Free Jazz or Avant Garde Jazz started in the 1960’s and 1970’s and was characterized by “free tonality” in which former aspects of the idiom disappeared. It also started to incorporate more world music form India, Africa and Arabia,and  still included elements of BeBop.



miles davis

Composer, trumpeter, band leader, Miles Davis,  photo by



Fusion from the 1960’s to the present was one of the next forms of modern Jazz and incorporated modern Rock, World and Folk music into its sound along with electronic instruments and extended solos. One of it’s most important innovators was Miles Davis who brought in elements of amplified Funk and Rock.



Jazz has always absorbed the world around it….can’t wait to see what’s coming up next!?





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November 18, 2019



I am often surprised when I go into a room and there is a piece of really good art on the wall. It may not always be my cup of tea, but I will carry forward a good feeling towards the person who thought that art was important. We all have different skill levels when we decorate a space hoping to make life more orderly and livable. When we first enter a room and glance around we get our first glimpse of someone. A room that I occupied  would usually be a scene of disarray. Piles of stuff and unfinished projects would litter every corner of every room. Fortunately for me and anyone visiting our house, my wife has a better sense of presentation than I do. Any room where I am working  would soon become uninhabitable if left ungoverned by my better half. I am grateful for all of the people who keep order in our world and especially those who place in front of me beautiful arrangements of beautiful things. It is often a woman with impeccable taste. When I am in the Canadian woods it is Mother Nature. At my house it is my wife, and at the jazz club down the street it is Gretchen Valade




When you enter the Dirty Dog Jazz Café you are greeted by a host and a dog that is scratching itself because it might be a little bit dirty.  The dog is not real.  It is just one of the many artifacts in a club chock full of charm, music, civility and art. Fortunately for those of us who like jazz played in an intimate yet expansive space, the Dirty Dog has been created by its proprietor Gretchen’s vision. She was looking for a nice place to spend an evening. The Dirty Dog is a handsomely turned out establishment that does not take itself too seriously. This is obvious when you encounter the holiday decorations and the art on the walls. The original art that covers the walls captures the joyous character of the club and its owner. Gretchen has shown her appreciation for the musicians and patrons by surrounding them with a veritable art gallery.


“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Listen to the art.” -Junot Diaz





I have been asked from time to time to add a piece of art to the walls of the Dirty Dog. It is a little scary to try to live up to the standards that exist in the music, food and service. It always turns out to be a misplaced fear of failure as it is a place with a low judgemental factor, so you might as well have fun. That quite honestly is what this place is all about.



Gretchen has curated most of the stuff that finds a place on a shelf or a wall. There are a lot of images of dogs and jazz artists. There is evidence throughout the club that she is unafraid to put up what pleases her. She is  confident that this is going to bring a little happiness to the rest of us. The Dirty Dog is dedicated to promote and support all artists. All it takes is to be authentic and give a good effort.



Louis Armstrong photographed by Hervé Gloagen




My wife and I were staying in a magical old house in the magical village of Le Beaucet in the south of France. I often painted outside in a small garden beneath a limestone cliff with the ruins of a 12th century castle on the top. The garden was part of a path that a visitor would use to wander through the village. One day a couple wandered into the backyard. They were both magazine designers from Paris. We shared an interest in art, jazz and a glass of wine  They invited us to visit them in their home/gallery in the village of l’isle sur la sorgue.

Their first exhibition was going to feature the photography of their friend, photographer Hervé Gloagen. The poster featured Herve’s classic photo of Louis Armstrong. I next saw the photo on the wall of the Dirty Dog. Louis is only half in the picture, he is alone and in thought. We are given no clues where he is, what band he was playing in or why he was wearing white socks. This is a great photograph as it gives us a lot to think about and fill in. It captured Louis in a private moment. He was completely unaware of  the photographer or absolutely comfortable with him. One of Hervé Gloagen assets was his ability to befriend his subjects. and the ease that the subjects felt in his presence.

All this is on display when the lights go back up after a set of jazz at the Dirty Dog.


Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understandas if it were necessary to understandwhen it is simply necessary to love.” – Claude Monet




There are prints and posters of famous jazz artists by equally famous jazz photographers scattered around the club. This is to be expected. These are the giants that look over most jazz clubs. Gretchen has additional art on the Dirty Dog’s walls that mirror her love of the music and the soulful musicians behind the music. It is her sentimental tip of the hat.



Dee Dee Pierce oil painting by John Osler


Dee Dee Pierce and his wife Billie headlined a jazz band that was a fixture for years in New Orleans. He was an American jazz trumpeter and cornetist. He is best remembered for the songs “Peanut Vendor” and “Dippermouth Blues”, His wife Billie played the piano.




I never met Dee Dee or Billie except through some early recordings and by going through Tulane University’s archives. Their early playing was rough hewn, bluesy and authentic to their situation. I was moved to paint their story. I think there is a lot of a journeyman jazz musician’s struggle in his face. Gretchen must have agreed when she put the painting on the wall.


Here is a video of Dee Dee and Billie


“Art should be like a holiday: something to give a man the opportunity to see things differently and to change his point of view.” -Paul Klee






Art is in the eyes of the beholder, but someone has to get it in front of the beholders. The Dirty Dog is in this business. They share original jazz, art and food for those who like that sort of thing.

Come on out to the Dirty Dog, you will get a chance to thank Gretchen Valade for all she has done, and you will get a chance to support live music while having the time of your life.

John Osler





November 20 – 25






Starting Wednesday of this week Detroit’s own Kimmie Horne will bring her alto voice to the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. Kimmie’s voice is a powerful thawing device.

Kimmie may be home grown, but she isn’t a secret to to her jazz and R&B fans around the world. This local girl is an internationally acclaimed artist and puts in her share of time away from home. When she returns home she shows her love of her hometown, and nowhere is she more at home than when she plays the Dirty Dog. She knows she will get lost in the warm embrace of family and friends. It happens every time she shows up.





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November 14, 2019


One is the loneliest number


Some experts say we are in a dangerous loneliness epidemic and this loneliness can lead to serious emotional and physical health problems. The reasons that so many people feel all alone today is a subject of many studies. Social isolation both perceived and real doesn’t have a simple solution, yet it seems that for some reason music has a way of making things a little better. The weight of loneliness can be lifted when shared. When we feel left out or abandoned it sometimes helps to  play Billie Holiday’s Solitude or Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. Melancholy can be delicious in the hands of a few good jazz artists playing in a minor key, letting us know that we are aren’t alone with our troubles.




Jazz got embedded under my skin not because it made me joyously tap my foot to the beat. It was the jazz played in a minor key that made a shy teenager know that it was OK to have the blues. In high school I would sneak out with a friend and go to Klein’s Show Bar to catch the after hours jam where local and national jazz musicians would do battle over who had the greatest hurt and soul. They wailed and pleaded, the sounds were so sweet and powerful that they chased all the teenage angst from my body. Jazz in a minor key can be a bittersweet remedy for a broken spirit.






The Minor Key was a pretty upbeat music venue. Like a lot of clubs around Detroit it attracted a clientele of hardworking men and woman who where looking for a break from their daily routine. The jazz played in the club picked up their spirits until the music drifted into the a minor key. Customers shoulders and heads would drop while eyes would  glaze over and stare into the distance.

We shouldn’t assume that music in a major key is happy music while music in a minor key is sad music. It seems to be a fact that music in a minor key is more emotional. It touches our soul and puts us at peace with our demons. This is true, yet in many cultures the minor scale is used in jolly upbeat tunes like Brahms Hungarian Dances and even most Klezmer and Jewish dances.

Jewish music when played  in the minor scale does reflect the very real suffering and pain that has been inflicted on the people, but it still has the ability to lift us up. So much of the music written and played in a minor key has had a certain sadness or longing to it but also includes a glimmer of hope. Irish traditional dance music has both melancholy airs in major keys and perky reels and jigs in minor keys,


and then there’s the blues……..






For over 100 years we have sung the blues. Americans have felt comforted listening to jazz and the blues because they like the rawness, and they can relate to a genuinely rough time. When they find themselves with no one to talk to they appreciate having someone speak directly to them, someone that feels free to pour out their heart. The world could understand songs like Everyday I have the blues,” and “Nobody loves me, nobody seems to care”  and soon jazz and blues were played everywhere

With every trouble and heartache I can still turn to the blues, and find comfort.






November brings to Detroit cold air, gray skies and short days. Fortunately we know that relief from gloom is close at hand.

Get some music in our lives. We can leave our lonely nest and get our fill of music played in both the minor and major scales at our local jazz club.

Change your habits and get out among lively upbeat people.

We also understand the positive effect that dogs have on loneliness. So you might think of shedding your blahs by catching some jazz and blues at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. It is hard to feel alone in a crowd that thinks it is OK to have the blues.


John Osler


JOHN CONYERS 1929 – 2019


Painting: John Osler


We just lost a friend of jazz and of Detroit. Representative Conyers was regarded as one of the most persistent and influential advocates of jazz. He never missed a change to listen to jazz in Detroit and to promote it in Washington. In 1987 he got Congress to pass a resolution designating jazz as a “national American treasure.” Visitors to his congressional office were greeted by walls filled with jazz posters and a big acoustic bass dominating one corner.

In 1985 he established an annual Jazz Issue Forum and Concert for the Congressional Black Caucus, of which he was a founding member. Over the years, he brought jazz artists to speak and perform in Washington, including Marcus Belgrave, Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Terence Blanchard, Lionel Hampton, Shirley Horn, Nancy Wilson, Randy Weston and the Modern Jazz Quartet. He drew attention to issues like health care for musicians, the economics of the music industry, and arts education.

John was really good at getting things done. He will be missed.


Tuesday November 12





Special presentation of the band The Dirty Dogs .  This all-star jazz band will chase the blues away. Come in out of our first real snow of the year and get whisked down to New Orleans.


November 13 & 14






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.


November 15 & 16






Considered one of the world’s finest double bass players Rodney has been featured on over 100 jazz recordings and appeared with countless legendary players, including seven years with his friend Wynton Marsalis’ septet.  He has found time to be a member of the Jazz at the Lincoln Center Orchestra, the Detroit Jazz Orchestra and appear at venues and events around the world.

I have known Rodney Whitaker since he was a young man earnestly starting out on his storied career. There is little that Rodney has set out to do that he hasn’t achieved.  He is someone whose personal fortitude has made everyone around him better, just ask the students that come out of his program at Michigan State, or better yet ask his band mates when you catch him at the Dirty Dog this week.


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November 12, 2019



The Detroit Free Press wrote last year that “Motown celebrated its diamond anniversary, marking 60 years since Berry Gordy Jr. founded the company that became a musical, cultural and commercial force inextricably linked to the city, right down to the name”.


As we continue to celebrate Motown’s anniversary we reflect upon the close relationship between Motown and Jazz, which included everything from it’s musical elements and structure to some of the actual musicians themselves.


Detroit was ready for the Motown sound because of the nature of our music community at that time which was steeped in the blues, gospel R&B and Jazz.


It coincided with the post-war baby boom genres developing in late 40’s to late 60’s.  These  provided a perfect creative platform for the Motown sound.


So many of the backing or session musicians on the Motown hits were also Jazz musicians with some very active in Detroit’s Jazz community.   Many others also came from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra – especially the string sections.


As for Jazz, Motown drew on Detroit’s thriving Jazz scene and hired some of our most well-known and respected artists to play as studio musicians including with the famous Motown back-up group the “The Funk Brothers”.  This partnership included other live and studio performance opportunities including those who were touring with Motown artists worldwide.


Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were two major Jazz fans and players who were known for infusing their music with lots of Jazz elements, and artists.   Marvin Gaye also considered being a full-time Jazz artist as he was known for being an excellent Jazz composer and arranger who also wrote film soundtracks filled with Jazz such as for the early 1970’s award-winning film “Trouble Man”.




Most of the artists in the famous Motown back-up group, “The Funk Brothers” were well known Jazz artists.


These included such Detroit Jazz luminaries as:


Trumpeters Marcus Belgrave and Michael Henderson


Drummers William “Benny” Benjamin and Richard “Pistol” Allen


Pianists Johnny Griffith and Earl Van Dyke


Vibraphonists Jack Brokensha and Johnny Trudell (who also played trumpet)


Trombonists George Bohanon and Jimmy Wilkins


Saxophonists Ernie Rodgers, Larry Nozero, Thomas “Beans” Bowles


Guitarists Dennis Coffey, Joe Messina, and Ron English


Percussionist Eddie “Bongo” Brown and countless others over the years.



Other successful Detroit record labels drew on our Jazz, Blues and Soul heritage. One such label was the world renowned  STRATA records  which was an artist run label, publisher and performance space from the late 1960’s and 1970’s. It included the band Tribe (1976) with members of Griot Galaxy, Marcus Belgrave, Phil Ranelin, Kenny Cox, Ron English, George Davidson and others.  We will write about Strata Records in a future “Jazz Notes” so please stay tuned.



Detroit’s legendary MOTOWN RECORDS  became one of the most successful genres and sounds in contemporary music worldwide and  sold more records than the Beatles!




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