Walter White Quartet at Cliff Bells

I went out to hear some jazz on Saturday night, May 25, 2013. My original plan was to go to Bakers Keyboard Lounge in Detroit to see Phil Denny. Bakers is the oldest jazz club in the world and has had it’s ups and downs in the last few years. They do have great sound and have so many wonderful jazz players coming through the place.

A Facebook page said they were sold out so I called and they said they were accepting walk ins for the 10 pm show. I know a couple of musicians who were backing Phil Denny so I decided to go. When I got there, there was a line waiting to get in the door. I joined the line. I was standing behind a woman wearing so much perfume, I tried to stand downwind. I know they were going to flip the room between shows so I had thought there would be seats. On the inside, it is crowded. The sight of a long line was not reassuring. I also know the room has a lot of seats that are not good. While I was in line, I saw a musician I knew and I told him that it was this show or Walter White Quartet at Cliff Bells, another jazz club in the entertainment district of Detroit. Given the situation, he suggested Cliff Bells and the Walter White Quartet. I was all too ready to agree knowing I would not get a decent seat at Bakers.

So, I got in the car and drove down to Cliff Bells. I had good parking karma and found a spot within 50 feet of the front door. I arrived towards the end of the first set but could see it was a good decision as soon as I walked in the door and heard the music.

I got a great table right in front of the stage. During the set break, they were correcting sound issues they had during the first set. The sound guy is not humble and I was amazed to see him actually try to get the sound balanced. I got my usual club soda and lime and watched the sound show while waiting for the second set.

Tonight the Walter White Quartet consisted of Walter White (tpt), Gary Shunk (keys), Sean Dobbins (drums) and Miles Brown (bass). They started out with a song names “Kayak” which I had not heard before. I have only been going out for 6 or 7 years and am still learning so much, it was a good start.

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The next number was “Midnight” from the 1930’s as an homage to a young lady in the audience having her 30th birthday. It was not the usual. The next number was “Moanin” and if this was the only song they did, it would be enough. They did it so well it was a highlight for me. The other songs in the set were “Always and Foreever”, Walt’s Waltz and Nica’s Dream.

One of the best things about the quartet is how well they created a good energy. Walter White is so much more than good technique. He has found his voice in the trumpet, you can hear him in the music. There were some things he was doing that I haven’t heard before and I enjoyed it all. All the musicians had there own unique voice and yet they brought it together to create something very special. It is so much fun to see musicians who are having fun, enjoying what they do and giving everyone an evening to remember.

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