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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 JAZZ CAFE BLOG
The Dirty Dog brings together the musicians and guests in a way that creates a lasting impression and desire to come back.
March 27, 2017

MIGRATION II

 

ARTIST: KADIR NELSON

 

LEARNING ABOUT MUSIC BY LOOKING AT LIFE

 

There has always been room in my life for some triumphant music, especially when I have been on a losing streak. It was at a time like that that I took a trip to the Delta to find the source of the Blues. I found a lot more than the Blues. I found people doing their best.

 

I had been tipped off that I might find a refreshing look at life by spending some time in the Mississippi Delta. Two Detroit friends, Robert and Caroline grew up in the Delta. Robert was a blues man when Caroline allowed it. All the stories that they told me of their early years growing up in the Delta were spoken with smiles on their faces. After reading some books on the Delta, the blues and the Northern migration I headed on a road trip to the Delta.

 

Often the books on the Great Southern Migration had a forward written by William Ferris who was the director of the Southern Studies Center at “Old Miss”,  Under his 20-year tenure the University of Mississippi became internationally recognized as a leader in the understanding of life in the South. He was kind enough to send me to Jonestown, MS, a small town in West Central Mississippi just north of the Blues Crossroads.

 

 

THE LEGENDARY CROSSROADS IN CLARKSDALE, MS

 

 

IN JONESTOWN, MS I FOUND NEW FRIENDS WAITING FOR ME

 

For many years after that first trip I continued to take a reverse migration route from Detroit to New Orleans. I always tried to include a stop in Jonestown. It is a unique village with a not so unique history in the American South. Jonestown was hardly a biracial town. There were few white owners except for the Delta Oil  Mill. With the decline of cotton the culture of interdependence defined the town. They took care of each other as best they could. In the center of the town live a remarkable couple, Donal and Lavern Burnett. The Burnetts have a Texaco gas pump in front of their establishment and some goods to sell inside. You can get some gas, fill your fishing tackle box and fill up on barbecue. They anchored the town with their presence. They provided a place to gather, a place to leave a child if necessary and a source for good advice. Through the years I have watched the Burnetts work with others to make the most of their lives knowing that no one is going to help them. They are all they have. They became my friends, pointed me in the right direction to hear really good music and showed me some truths. Jonestown today is in desperate shape with little hope.

 

This was for me a life changing experience in many ways. One of the changes was to  better know the spirit of those who have influenced the music around me. The county where Jonestown is located in is one of the poorest in the country. In the churches I heard  triumphal music despite seemingly hopeless futures for poor rural towns in the South.        I had to go to juke joints in Clarksdale to hear Blues played, but I heard the roots of the Blues in the choir lofts of Jonestown.

 

 

ARTIST: ROMARE BEARDON

 

Martin Luther King said, “Jazz speaks for life. The blues tell the story of life’s difficulties — and, if you think for a moment, you realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music.”

 

 

ARTIST: JACOB LAWRENCE

 

MUSIC MOVES WHEN IT HAS TO

 

It is becoming harder and harder to live in Jonestown, MS. Crime and drugs move in when jobs leave. A lot of music-filled townspeople have left in desperation, looking for a better place.

 

 

ARTIST; JACOB LAWRENCE

 

MIGRATION

 

Why did black Americans leave the South and migrate north?

 

The introduction of the cotton gin in the South eliminated manual labor and created a void in work opportunities. Cotton had provided difficult hard labor for many but offered security in company towns that small farmers didn’t have.

 

As black southerners struggled to survive as farmers on small plots of land they rented from white landowners, a series of agricultural disasters hit them hard in the 1910s: the boll weevil wasted cotton crops across the South, and powerful floods hit farm areas in Alabama and Mississippi. There was racial violence in black neighborhoods in southern cities and rural areas. Economic hardship and violence convinced many black Americans that they had no future in the segregated South.

 

Jazz musicians came north for the same reasons that other people did, failing crops and discrimination in the South. Fortunately, they  brought their culture north as well, including a spirit of hopefulness and sharing that is embedded in jazz.

 

John Osler

 

COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

 

 

AQUANKO

 

MARCH 29 – APRIL !

 

An explosion of spirit will be heard this week at the Dirty Dog. Aquanko, an assembly of some of Detroit’s very best musicians, will celebrate Latin jazz in this intimate club. You are invited to come by, lean back and enjoy some powerful music.

 

 

   

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March 23, 2017

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Latin Jazz comes to the Dirty Dog with the return of  Alberto Nacif’s Aguanko septet March 29 thru April 1. The band which draws on Afro-Cuban musical traditions is one of the premiere Latin groups in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area and has been internationally recognized as well.

 

 

Latin Jazz is always a favorite for most Jazz and world music fans, and music fans in general. The centuries old rhythms are so infectious especially in a live setting when it’s interesting to watch the percussion-based music being created right before your eyes and ears. Latin music is also primarily a dance-based idiom.

 

 

It’s so interesting to read about the history and role Latin music played during Jazz’s formative years with the influence of the Cuban based habanera or tango rhythm into Jazz’s basic syncopated rhythmic structure. As with most musical art forms, Latin Jazz was/is a hybrid of various styles that were fused to create a new sound.

 

 

Latin music brought together musical elements from African, Moorish, and European traditions and music from the indigenous peoples of the Americas. This art form started when Europeans began migrating to the Americas in the 16th century.

 

 

The forms contained rhythmic figures with roots in the middle east that were brought to Spain and North Africa by the Moors centuries earlier. This also included folk-loric singing styles and instrumentation that is still synonymous with Latin music today. These cultural elements were then brought into the formation of Latin Jazz.

 

 

What makes Aguanko great is the authenticity of the music under the direction of Alberto Nacif who was born in Quaxaca on the west coast of Mexico where the local music was filled with Cuban influences.

 

 

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Band leader/composer Alberto Nacif and Aguanko performing at the Detroit Jazz Festival

 

 

 

Starting to play conga and bongos early on he moved to Detroit while in his mid-teens and immediately got involved in our city’s fervent music scene that included everything from Disco to Latin Jazz.

 

 

Soon after, he started taking lessons from and/or performing with major Latin Jazz artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Arturo Sandoval, Santana’s Armando Peraza, Danilo Perez, Manuel “Anga Diaz” from Irakere, Tomas “Panga” Ramos of Cubanismo and Jose “Pepe” Espinosa of the Afro-Cuban All-stars among others.

 

 

Here in Detroit, he led the Latin Jazz groups “Cubop”, Tumbao Bravo, and now Aguanko. This band features many of Alberto Nacif’s original compositions played by an impressive array of Detroit based talent which includes Jose “Pepe” Espinosa on percussion, Javier Barrios on timbales, pianists Wesley Reynoso and/or Rick Roe, and percussionist Nacif who round out the Latin core of the band that also features Pat Prouty on bass, Russ Miller, sax and flute, Anthony Stanco trumpet, Chris Smith trombone and others. They definitely create a percussive Latin big band sound.

 

 

This multi-award winning band will have a new album out this Spring featuring lots of Alberto Nacif’s original music performed by the core group and many guest artists from Ann Arbor and Detroit. I wouldn’t be surprised if they played some of this new music for us during their 4-night stint at the Dirty Dog.  Join us and find out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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March 20, 2017

JAZZ’S JOURNEY

 

ARTIST: ROMARE BEARDEN

 

Jazz is constantly proclaimed as America’s gift to music. It is probably more correct to think of it as music’s gift to America, and for sure, the world. The history of jazz is full of bad times and good timing. It has had a journey that reflects the freedom and possibilities of a nation. It contains also the pain, anger and force of those who have created this music to balm their suffering.

 

Jazz as a musical form has had many influences, including its path.

 

MY PERSONAL MIGRATION TO JAZZ

 

I started to migrate toward jazz when I was a child and easily influenced. My parents didn’t give us kids a vote on what kind of music was played on the Victrola. Jazz was  universally popular and that is what we got.. I don’t ever remember being told that the music that made us want to dance was jazz. I assumed that the music was created by an electrical device that moved round and round. If only life were that simple. The story behind that uplifting music has not always been that pretty. Jazz was born out of deprivation, misery and some hope. It survived and grew by those escaping from harm, who migrated to a better place. It has  been formed by the path it took and continues to evolve in the places it landed.

 

 

EMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION AND MIGRATION

 

ARTIST: JACOB LAWRENCE

 

Emigration is the act of leaving one’s resident country with the intent to settle elsewhere Conversely, immigration describes the movement of persons into one country from another. Both are acts of migration across national boundaries.

 

People are pushed out of one place and some are attracted to another. There can be a desire to escape negative circumstances such as shortages of land or jobs, or more commonly to flee unfair treatment. People can be pulled to the opportunities available elsewhere. Fleeing from oppressive conditions may lead to permanent emigration.

 

 

 

MIGRATION OF JAZZ IN AMERICA

 

Jazz’s birthplace is thought to be New Orleans. This assumes that a bunch of musicians just appeared one day on the docks and made up some tunes. The truth is that New Orleans was a hub of commerce for our young nation. A lot of workers showed up and a lot of hard labor was required. Commerce brought goods from Cuba and the Cubans brought their rhythms which had emigrated from Africa. Jazz’s birth is the result of immigration and forced slavery followed by migration. It is the story of hard lives and hard work. It is music of desperation and escape. It is the music that people kept in their back pocket when they were forced to move on. As the people moved around, the music went with them. As they settled in new places the music changed, but the music they kept in their suitcases can still be heard.

 

ARTIST: JACOB LAWRENCE

 

Along the path to Detroit jazz has added to its suitcase. By the time it arrived at the strong northern markets of Chicago and Detroit it had added some new stories while coming up the Mississippi. The one thing about jazz is that it always seems to have taken root before it moved on. Even as the cities crowded with folks flush with dollars in their pockets took what they wanted to hear from the music, others heard and understood the original hurt and call for freedom that has survived to this day. Every city on that initial trek north has  taken  jazz and added its distinct sounds. Jazz, for some time, has had international tentacles. Where there is need, there is jazz.  Wherever you are jazz seems to arrive just in time to cheer folks up, help them grieve and challenge them musically.

 

NORTHERN CITIES HAD JOBS AND PAY

 

 

ARTIST: JACOB LAWRENCE

 

Musicians arriving by boat and and train found bustling economies. They got day jobs with the help of those who preceded them. They soon found audiences for their music.

 

 

ARTIST: KADIR NELSON

 

Soon in the audiences listening to this new music were musicians from all backgrounds. Layers began to be added. Possibilities were explored, and the music grew. When trains arrived from Chicago and St. Louis the musicians getting off had gigs waiting. Detroiters embraced jazz and the blues as they heard a familiar story. They have not left it alone and have added a drive and persistence that is deep in the soul of this hard driving city.

John Osler

 

In 2017, Detroit is still a music catalyst for the world.

 

COMING TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ MARCH 22 – MARCH 25

 

 

IAN FINKELSTEIN

 

Ian Finkelstein is a Jazz pianist, producer, composer and educator.  He has made short geographic moves from greater Detroit to Ann Arbor and back to the action in Detroit. Ian has not migrated very far. He has had to take his considerable talent for a pretty short ride.  Ian not too long ago stepped out of an advanced studies program at the U of M, not from a crowded train. He has, however, brought with him a deep appreciation for jazz’s roots. Jazz just gets better and better.

 

  

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March 16, 2017

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Photo by John Osler

 

 

DETROIT JAZZ PROFILE: PIANIST IAN FINKELSTEIN

 

 

The super-talented pianist, composer, producer and educator, Ian Finkelstein, returns to the Dirty Dog for four nights, from Wednesday March 22 to Saturday March 25. He’ll be with his trio, playing a mix of Jazz standards and his own compositions.

 

 

I first met him ten years ago while producing the Discovery series at the Music Hall, which featured new and emerging Jazz talent from local high schools and universities.

 

 

Ian really stood out as he played with well-honed technical skills and a good understanding of improvisational structure, especially since he was just in his mid-teens. Other young stand outs in our series included pianists, Michael Malis, Jon Dixon, and Michael Jellick, drummers Jesse Kramer and Alex White, saxophonists Marcus Elliot, Rafael Statin, and De’Sean Jones among others.

 

 

Now in their mid to late twenties, they’re taking their place among the Jazz professionals that are part of Detroit’s serious current Jazz scene. Many of them have begun touring around the world and all have played the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe which has a reputation for supporting new and emerging local talent.

 

 

Ian’s certainly been busy paying his dues, these past ten years, graduating from the University of Michigan with two degrees: a BFA in Jazz Piano Performance and another in Performing Arts Technology. He’s also been mentored by many top musicians such as the late Marcus Belgrave, and Geri Allen and has shared the stage with many legendary Jazz artists including Benny Golson, Robert Hurst, Marcus Belgrave and others. In fact, he’ll be performing again with Hurst in Germany this April.

 

 

In 2014 he performed in Marcus Belgrave’s band at Dizzy’s Club Coco-Cola in New York with Marcus Elliot, Marion Hayden, Joan Belgrave, and Gayelynn McKinney. New York Times Jazz writer Ben Ratliff wrote, “the band also included two young Detroit musicians, the tenor saxophonist Marcus Elliott and the pianist Ian Finkelstein, convincing and confident, evolved in touch and tone, the kind of musicians New York would be lucky to have. But they were practicing restraint, too, playing in service to the song, and the bandleader”.

 

 

A fan of many kinds of music, Finkelstein says some of his favorites are Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Jaki Byard, Ramsey Lewis, Kenny Cox, Roy Ayers, Theo Parrish, Scott Grooves and others. He also enjoys composing electronic music and has a new album that expresses his electronic side coming out next month, on Discovery Records.

 

 

 

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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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March 13, 2017

In more recent years, Fuller has become known nationally and internationally as a master clinician in jazz studies programs, having worked with students and young professionals at institutions including Skidmore College, Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Pittsburgh, Duke University, the New England Conservatory of Music, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He holds an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music.

 

 

 

AT THE DIRTY DOG MARCH 15 – MARCH 18

 

DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL GOOD GUYS

 

THIS WEEKS LINEUP OF GOOD GUYS

 

Here are musicians that genuinely think that nothing great will come from stepping on each other. Each will make room for the other on their way to making something hopeful and beautiful. They will truly honor Pepper and Curtis.

 

CHRIS COLLINS

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MICHAEL DEASE

MARION HAYDEN

GAYELYNN McKINNEY

CLIFF MONEAR

ROB PIPHO

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March 8, 2017

rodneyCD1

 

 

 

Renowned Jazz bassist and Mack Avenue recording artist, Rodney Whitaker was born in Detroit on February 22, 1968. He first studied violin at age eight and, at age thirteen, took up the acoustic bass. He studied the instrument without much interest until he had a “lightning bolt style” realization when a neighbor played him music from John Coltrane’s 1958 album Soultrane, featuring the iconic bassist from Detroit, Paul Chambers. That was definitely a career defining moment for young Mr. Whitaker.

 

 

While attending Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School, Whitaker studied with influential music instructor, Herbie Williams. He also met saxophonist/educator Donald Washington, leader and founder of the ensemble Bird/Trane/Sco/Now! and soon joined the band where he studied and performed the music of John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, The Art Ensemble of Chicago and others.

 

 

He attended Wayne State University and studied with Marcus Belgrave, bassists Stephen Molina, Ralphe Armstrong, and Robert Gladstone, principal bassist with the Detroit Symphony. Marcus Belgrave said “Rodney is the most energetic bass player I’ve encountered,” he expressed in the Metro Times. “When he was in school, I knew he was going to be a great player.”

 

 

Rodney first received international attention while performing with the Donald Harrison/ Terence Blanchard Quintet. He also spent several years with the Wynton Marsalis Septet, and toured internationally with trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

 

 

Besides being respected as an award-winning world-class musician, Whitaker is also a highly committed and respected educator and is currently Professor of Jazz Bass and Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University, a position he has had for more than 15 years.

 

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Other prestigious positions include being Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Civic Jazz Orchestra and a member of Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. He is also on the faculty at the University of Michigan and the Julliard School of Music in New York.

 

 

As an accomplished virtuoso Jazz bassist, Whitaker has played with many of the top performers and style-makers in Jazz. These include such legendary performers as Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Burrell, Pat Metheny, Chick Corea, Kenny Garrett, Donald Byrd, The Count Basie Orchestra with Stefon Harris, Tommy Flanagan, Betty Carter and countless others.

 

 

Rodney Whitaker has been mentoring younger musicians throughout his career and I’m sure it’s very gratifying for him to perform with many of his former students who have pursued music careers – many of whom have followed in his footsteps and have gone on to become educators and mentors themselves.

 

 

He is very proud of the mentoring program he oversees as Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State. He proudly boasts “we probably have the best mentoring system in the country. People leave here feeling empowered, feeling they have a mentor, someone who is there for them. Our motto in this program is, ‘Each one, teach one’. As soon as you get mentored, it’s your obligation to find a younger person and mentor them. We see grad students mentoring undergrads, older students mentoring freshmen. It’s part of the jazz tradition, and it’s what I grew up with in the African American community”.

 

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Rodney Whitaker performing at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

 

 

 

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe is proud to present Rodney Whitaker and his group this week, March 8-11, 2017. His band is made up of star players including Corey Kendrick, piano, Ben Stocker, tenor saxophone, Sean Dobbins drums, Rockelle Fortin vocals and leader, Rodney Whitaker on bass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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March 6, 2017

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NINA SIMONE pianist, singer and activist

 

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NINA SIMONE’S CHILDHOOD HOME

 

Two piano players came to my attention last week. The first was Nina Simone. The New York Times printed a story about preserving pianist and singer Nina Simone’s birthplace in Tryon, North Carolina. Tryon is an idyllic village in a beautiful mountain setting. I was familiar with Tryon as I have visited a Detroit artist friend who has moved there. It is so beautiful that it is a magnet for artists. Nina Simone’s life growing up in Tryon is essential in understanding Nina. In Tryon she learned the piano and the necessity to stand up to injustice. She learned her lessons well. Three artists have purchased her childhood home with the promise to honor her life.

 

GRETCHEN VALADE, pianist and proprietor

 

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Gretchen Valade ,the proprietor of the Dirty Dog, was missing,  Her place at the Dirty Dog bar has been empty for the past couple of weeks. She was sick, and she will get better. If you know Gretchen, you know that she doesn’t miss the music without a good reason.   If you know the people who know Gretchen, you know how much she matters to  all those around her. The phrase that I heard repeatedly was “She will be OK … she’s just too tough to be knocked down for long”. A cold is not an equivalence of the struggle that Nina Simone faced. However, our confidence in their strength that comes from their bearing gives us reassurance. Their achievements required their firm resilience.

 

ROCKS

 

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Two lives could hardly be more different than Gretchen Valade’s and Nina Simone’s except for playing the piano. I realized that Nina Simone and Gretchen Valade share an inner fortitude that we all recognize. Neither of these two ladies backed down when expressing their views. Could it be that music and jazz gave them the structure that gave them such self assurance.

 

I am often personally kind of squishy, sort of, maybe wishy-washy.  I am careful not to offend. Sometime I stand up for my principles, but I make sure that no one is around to call me out.

 

There are others whom I admire like Gretchen and Nina that only know how to stand up. I don’t always agree with them on what they are standing up for, but I am going to take them seriously. I will in the end admire them for their surety.

 

STRENGTH OF CHARACTER – SPEAKING OUT

 

I just saw “I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO” . Using James Baldwin’s life and words this film grabs and shakes one into more understanding. The film was nominated for an Academy Award.

 

I got a chance a few years ago to see the documentary THE AMAZING NINA SIMONE by Jeff Lieberman. The film was a well crafted and insightful look at Nina Simone, whose powerful life and gifts again startled me out of complacency.

 

These movies demonstrates the power of documentary film to get to the bottom of things.

 

FACES

 

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THE POWER OF THE JAZZ ARTIST NINA SIMONE

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates stated in The Atlantic :

 

I played a lot of Nina Simone in college. I play a lot of Nina Simone now. But I have always known that Nina Simone means something more to the black women around me than she does to me.

 

Simone was able to conjure glamour in spite of everything the world said about black women who looked like her. And for that she enjoyed a special place in the pantheon of resistance. That fact doesn’t just have to do with her lyrics or her musicianship, but also how she looked. Simone is something more than a female Bob Marley. It is not simply the voice: It is the world that made that voice, all the hurt and pain of denigration, forged into something otherworldly. That voice, inevitably, calls us to look at Nina Simone’s face, and for a brief moment, understand that the hate we felt, that the mockery we dispensed, was unnatural, was the fruit of conjurations and the shadow of plunder. We look at Nina Simone’s face and the lie is exposed and we are shamed. We look at Nina Simone’s face and a terrible truth comes into view—there was nothing wrong with her. But there is something deeply wrong with us.

 

STRONG CHARACTER, VISION AND JAZZ

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates tells us of the importance of seeing the “face’ of an artist. When we listen to music without the visual impression we are missing something. When we get a chance to be in the presence of an artist when they are creating we get to see their self assurance. Jazz takes a lot of confidence to play. Watch it played live ! Get the whole story.

 

John Osler

 

A MAN OF STRONG CHARACTER

 

COMING  TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

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RODNEY WHITAKER MARCH 08-MARCH 11

 

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 all around him better, just ask his 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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March 2, 2017

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Bassist, Educator,and Kresge Fellow, Marion Hayden

 

With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8, it’s a good time to revisit the topic of women’s role in Jazz. The good news is there are definitely more women performing Jazz today than a few decades ago. The steady rise of female Jazz instrumentalists, in particular, is very encouraging.

 

 

However, it doesn’t mean we’re even close to achieving gender parity on the bandstand. Until recently, roughly 8% of Jazz musicians were women. And today it’s grown to 15%.

 

 

 

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Internationally renowned Jazz Violinist, Regina Carter

 

 

Since the debut of the Grammys in 1959, out of the 262 awards in various Jazz categories, 216 went to male performers and only 46 were given to female musicians. But because an artist can receive several awards, in reality only 26 women in Jazz have been honored in the past 68 years!

 

 

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Highly influential Jazz Vocalist, Betty “Bebop” Carter

 

 

 

The National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship has honored 132 Jazz masters in 32 years with only 16 women among them.

 

 

Needless to say, Jazz has remained a male dominated field. Women have been primarily singers but rarely instrumentalists. Historically speaking, the “band” was male territory and some felt women would jinx the group – that they were bad luck or couldn’t cut it. Luckily, these attitudes have started to fade.

 

 

Things began to change in the 1960’s. It was the dawn of the women’s movement – empowering women to take on new roles. With more women attending college, coupled with the increase of Jazz studies programs on the high school and college levels, there has been a relatively small but steady increase of women in Jazz. These women have become role models for the generations that follow.

 

 

ACS Jazz

 

The multi-generational super group, ACS, featuring Geri Allen, piano, Esperanza Spalding on bass and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums performing at the 2013 Portland Jazz Festival.  Photo:  Brent Wojahn, The Oregonian

 

 

Leading pianist, and Cass Tech graduate, Geri Allen told Jazzwise magazine, “I remember hearing Terry Pollard – the great pianist from Detroit – when I was a teenager, and that moment changed my life.”

 

 

In the same article, multi-award winning bassist, Esperanza Spalding said, “women have made a profound contribution to Jazz, one that can sometimes be overlooked. Seeing an all-female trio playing at the highest level and headlining major festivals will offer huge inspiration and encouragement to younger female players.”

 

 

Over the years, Detroit has been blessed with many other significant female Jazz artists who are respected world wide including pianist/harpist Alice Coltrane, harpist Dorothy Ashby, vocalist Betty “Bebop” Carter, violinist Regina Carter, bassist Marion Hayden, drummer Gayelynn McKinney, and many more.

 

 

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Detroit’s Jazz Impressaria, Gretchen Valade  /  Photo: Crain’s Detroit Business

 

 

One of the most significant Jazz women in the world who’s also from Detroit is Gretchen Valade who is a major Jazz philanthropist who among other things, has kept the Detroit Jazz Festival not only afloat, but growing and thriving for several years now.

 

 

She a true Jazz “activist”, meaning she actively supports the music and “makes things happen”. In 2016, Crain’s Detroit Business named her one of the 100 most influential women from Detroit.

 

 

The article mentioned that “in 2015, she donated $7.5 million to Wayne State University to create the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center, which will operate out of Hilberry Theatre.”

 

 

She also started her own Jazz record labels, Mack Avenue Records, which features an array of internationally acclaimed artists such as Gary Burton and Joey DeFrancesco and now considered one of the most successful Jazz labels in the world. She also started the Detroit Music Factory label, which promotes top Detroit based artists such as Ralphe Armstrong, and Gary Schunk.

 

The list continues with her opening of the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, now considered one of the best Jazz clubs in the world which features a mix of local and international talent including legendary artists Ron Carter, Pat Metheny, Barry Harris, Roy Hargrove, and many others.

 

 

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe regularly showcases women artists from Tia Fuller and Grace Kelly to Shahida Nurullah, Ursula Walker, Thornetta Davis, Kimmie Horn, Marion Hayden, Freda Payne, Gayelynn McKinney, Vanessa Rubin. Check “Upcoming Shows” at DirtyDogJazz.com for more information.

 

 

 

 

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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February 27, 2017

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THE ARTS IN AMERICA

 

This week’s blog will be a plea to get authentic voices to enter into a conversation about the importance of art and jazz in our community. I have never been without art. I have been surrounded by beautiful designs and sounds. Everything I touch and buy has been designed to please me. Much of my life will be lived within plans designed by others. How my sight lines are broken and varied has been thought out by someone I don’t know. I can only hope that they have some some sense of design in their background.

 

THE ARTS IN DETROIT

 

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ANTOINE DE LA MOTHE CADILLAC

 

“Cadillac returned to Quebec, then traveled to Montreal where he gathered canoes, farmers, traders, artisans, soldiers, and Native Americans to accompany him on his quest. The men set sail on June 4, 1701.” Wikipedia

 

Cadillac was in many ways a scoundrel. He made up his name to conceal his past. He was best known for selling booze to the Indians. On the plus side he did have an adventurous spirit and a sense of art which seems to have lasted in our imperfect city.

 

Detroit is not a blank canvas. Detroit has a rich history that started with its design. It was to be one half of a spoke wheel. It has a center and ways to get to the center It also has  a large part of its boundary on a constantly changing river… pretty good design! Someone had Paris in mind which was our good luck. Detroit is a city with a lot to say, with a lot of planning to do and a lot of creative minds.. What we need to keep art/design  in our lives are more paintbrushes, musical instruments, paid instructors and support for the arts.

 

TROUBLING TIMES FOR THE ARTS

 

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Every few years Congress gets it in their heads that unnecessary programs need to be cut out of the federal budget. The first on their list usually is Public Broadcasting Corporation. This is smart because only PBS and NPR  will generally inform us about who is on the list to be axed. Always mentioned second as the most unnecessary will be The National Endowment for the Arts  Usually the arts and science programs that are selected have already been cut to the bone. Not only are the savings to the public negligible but most of the programs create revenues and add quality to our lives. These announcements are mostly symbolic and an appearance by Big Bird on the Senate floor eventually and thankfully shames the legislators into inaction.

Even so…

 

THE ARTS MAY SOON BE GOING ON THE ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST

 

I have always been interested in the influence of the arts on society and the influence of society on the arts. Intertwined in all of this is how education is often affected by the arts and how the arts are dependent on education. The children are often the first to lose art and music programs.

 

The arts are like weeds growing up through the cracks in the sidewalks. The ones you sometimes step on. Some of these weeds flower and still we step on them. They are deemed unnecessary, until there are no more flowers. That is what Big Bird is telling us when he shows up in the Senate.

 

Even as creative types are streaming into Detroit we are shedding music and art programs in our schools. Just as the Chinese are adding arts programs to better compete we are told we can’t afford arts programs. The Chinese were tired of reproducing other folks’ ideas and began to get their creative juices flowing by including the arts in their curriculum.

 

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LET ME KNOW HOW YOU FEEL

 

I would like to start a conversation to see if I am right to be concerned. Together we can seek out paths to assure that one of Detroit’s biggest assets, its creativity, is secure.

 

I know a lot of jazz artists are spending time with young musicians and many more would jump at the opportunity to teach the next generation. On this blog we can talk about what programs work and what still needs to be done. Let’s share good stories and pass them on. Join the conversation by leaving a comment or email me at j.osler@att.net.

 

John Osler

 

GRETCHEN VALADE AND THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ WILL DO ALL THEY CAN TO KEEP THE ARTS IN DETROIT AND HELP DETROIT REMAIN A VIBRANT CITY

 

 

THIS WEEK AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ

 

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TALKING ABOUT LOVABLE GUYS LIKE BIG BIRD,  DID YOU KNOW THAT THE LOVABLE SKEETO VALDEZ WILL BE COMING BACK TO THE DIRTY DOG

 

Skeeto Valdez returns this week after leading his Fun House Band at the Dirty Dog last week. He will bring his unabashed good nature and solid drumming to join up with Chris Codish and the Chris Codish Brothers Groove.

 

Call the roof repair guys!

 

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CHRIS CODISH BROTHERS GROOVE

 

MARCH I – MARCH 2

 

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AND THEN

 

FREDDY COLE

 

Freddy will be under the new roof to calm you down.

 

MARCH 2 – MARCH 3

 

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February 24, 2017

DJF poster

 

 

CHECK OUT THE NEXT GENERATION OF JAZZ STARS

AT THE DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL AUDITIONS AND JAM SESSION

 

DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE, FEBRUARY 27, 2017 at 6:30 &

8:30 pm NO COVER CHARGE

Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe 313.882.5299 97 Kercheval in Grosse Pointe Farms

 

 

All photos by JOHN OSLER

 

 

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Detroit Jazz Festival Allstar leader, saxophonist and educator, Chris Collins, performing with students during last month’s Jam session

 

 

You’re are invited to sit in with the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars or join us in the audience to hear amazing Jazz from a wide range of Detroit Jazz artists.

 

The Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation team will be there to collect demos and performance proposals for the 2017 Detroit Jazz Festival. Artists are also encouraged to submit materials on their website: detroitjazzfest.com. The Dirty Dog will be serving from a special discounted menu, including $5 sliders.

 

 

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Trumpeter and Jazz Educator, John Douglas

 

 

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Bassist and Jazz Educator, Ralph Armstrong

 

 

This Monday, Detroit Jazz Festival Jam Session Band includes:

 

Chris Collins / Saxophonist and Band leader of Detroit Jazz Festival All-stars, and Detroit Jazz Festival Artistic Director, and Director of the Jazz Studies program at Wayne State University

 

John Douglas / Trumpet

Buddy Budson / Piano

Ralph Armstrong / Bass

Sean Dobbins / Drums

 

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Drummer and Educator, Sean Dobbins

 

 

Witnessing the wealth of new and emerging Jazz talent from the metro-Detroit area is so inspiring. These “kids” can really play! There’s so much talent in the room, it’s amazing and the participants get to play with the Detroit Jazz Festival Allstars who are some of the top Jazz artists around.

 

The All-stars’ musicians are also Jazz educators who on the faculties of many of the high schools and universities these the students come from.  These Jam session /Detroit Jazz Festival auditions will occur on the fourth Monday of each month through June 26. The dates are March 27, April 24, May 22 and June 26.

 

Do you or someone you know have aspirations of playing at the Detroit Jazz Festival held each Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit? Then join us for these special Monday night Jam sessions. For more information go to detroitjazzfest.com.

 

 

 

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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