Bert’s Jazz and the John Douglas Quartet

Last night, I went to Bert’s Jazz Room in Detroit, MI located in the Eastern Market or the largest farmer market in the area for a bit of jazz, The group was the John Douglas Quartet who of one of my favorites. The group plays from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m.. Last night the quartet was John Douglas (tpt), Michael Malis (keys), Ib Jones (bass)and Alex White(drums). Rafael Statin(sax) was also there and played. All better than average musicians.

There are 3 hour long sets. It is usual for each set to have a unique characteristic. My favorite is the second set. The first set is a warm up and the crowd is there for dinner and usually loud making it hard to hear the music. The second set is usually the best set of the evening or me. The musicians have meshed and are playing easily together. The songs are usually standards and done well. The third set from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. And brings in other musicians getting off their gigs and winding. Sometimes the 3rd set has musicians who have had just a little too much and the set can be great or really bad. The musicians who have had too much all seem to think the playing is great.

So, I ordered my chicken wings and had a club soda and lime. Since I am the sober one in the place, I get to enjoy the music unfiltered. I have to say the reason I like the John Douglas Quartet is John Douglas. The sound of his trumpet just pierces the air and enters my brain as soon as he starts to blow. When I first started going, I waited for his solos. Now, I have learned how to enjoy the gestalt of the group. And for me last night was good.

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The set started with “Softly as the morning sunrise”. It is one of my favorites and set the tone for the rest of the set. I settled in and lost myself in the music. Michael Malis really stepped up last night and did some great innovative licks on the keys. It brings a smile to my face just thinking about it.

Giving Myself Permission

I have been going out to listen to music in clubs for about 7 years now.   In my travels to the jazz clubs in Detroit, I fell in love with the music.  I actually started with R&B, tried some blues and then jazz.  Detroit usually means the straight ahead edgy jazz.  So I began to wander into the many music clubs in Detroit.  As a single woman, the first part of giving myself permission was to go alone and listen to the music. I asked some of the single women I know to go out with me and was astonished when the  response indicated they thought I was going out drinking.  Some people do it that way. Music goes straight inside of me and breaks into my emotions and sets them loose.

And I love the lift to my mood.  I found that many are not there to listen to the music.  It took me some time to even begin to understand this very foreign culture.

Luckily, I do not drink so my observations  were sober.  I learned that so many people make assumptions about any new person that shows up.  I learned that some people talk about everybody.  And I met a few that are upstanding ethical people.  I learned that profession of faith or religiosity had little to do with predicting ethics.  I learned that some married people just do not take it seriously.  So. the music was so uplifting and at times the surroundings were so toxic.

I was so pleased, at first, when musicians asked my name and wanted to get to know me.  I felt honored and a part of something.  I didn’t know the names of any of the musicians and now I know the name of quite a few.  I went out more and more.  I went to events just because someone asked.  As I went to so many events and to so many different kinds of music my own personal tastes began to form and change.  I now know what I like to hear the most and it is the tight, edgy, funky Detroit straight ahead jazz.  So, I gave myself permission not to go to some events where a musician invited me simply because I did not like the music they produce.

Last night I went out to hear some of the music I like and knew the keyboard player I like was not going to be there until later in the evening.  The  substitute keys were not good.  Listening was a struggle.  The musician was not incompetent but the synergy of the group was sadly lacking.  I gave myself permission to walk out.  And I enjoyed it.

My dog….the food critic

My dog, Bonnie, is thirteen years old. She is a geriatric dog. She is a Silky Terrier an weighs about 10 pounds. I have had her all her life. And like all terriers, she is perky, curious and happy. She always meets me at the door with wild abandon and a stuffed toy hanging out of her mouth. She is now and has alway been very active. When she meets new people she wags her tail and wants to get to know them. At the vets recently, the vet complimented me on her weight. He was really saying she is not a fat dog.

Bonnie will never be a fat dog. She is the original doggy food critic. Most dogs will eat anything except maybe salad or mushrooms without any hesitation. From the very beginning, she inspected food before eating it. Once when we were walking in the park, a woman offered her a bite of chicken. Most dogs would have taken the piece and swallowed it in one swift movement. Bonnie took the piece delicately between her teeth and dropped it on the ground. She then smelled it and rolled it over with her nose, finally picking it up and eating it.

For about the last couple of years, she has been on a special diet. She had some bad gastrointestinal upsets that required a lot of clean up on my part. The vet checked her for infections and worms…no cause could be found. The symptoms remained. She went on a special bland diet. The diet was white rice and an easily digestible dog food. She was not a happy dog. I tried adding a little chicken broth….heating the rice each time ( she only requires a half cup of rice two times a day) ….and finally I added just a bit of chicken mixed in the food. Finally, we had a meal she would eat. Well, almost. I tried to mix it well since all the nutrients she needs are in the special canned dog food. She has begun to carefully remove the bits she does not want and throw them on the floor. Sometimes a hunk of canned dog food, sometimes a a bit of rice. She reminds me of an unruly toddler. She has become a food critic.

So, thank you, Mr. Vet, she is not a slim healthy dog because of my actions, she is just a fussy eater.

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Jazz at the Cadieux Cafe

On Sunday night, May 5, 2013 I went to the Cadieux Cafe for the regular Sunday night Soul Jazz event on the Eastside of Detroit. This one was one I had been looking forward to.

The Cadieux cafe is a restaurant that is so much more than a restaurant. It is also a neighborhood bar. It has music several nights a week. There is a feather bowling alley in an adjoining room…the only one, I think. The featured cuisine is Belgian and the specialty of the house is mussels. For me, this is my favorite place for wings. They don’t start as much, they are deep fried wing dings. What they do next is what makes them so good and special. The BBQ sauce is hot and spicy. It leaves the sensation of heat in your mouth. It is served with a creamy blue cheese dressing full of little chunks of blue cheese. So, I picked up one of the pieces of chicken covered with the
BBQ sauce and took a bite. The mild, tangy feeling of heat in my mouth. The next bite starts with a dip in the thick creamy blue cheese dressing. The cooling of the dressing followed by the heat of the BBQ sauce…..exquisite.

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This week, the music looked especially good. The Jeff Pedraz Quintet comprised of Jeff Pedraz( bass), Dwight Adams( tpt), Mike Jellick(keys), Jake Shadik (alto sax) and Stephen
Boegehold. They were celebrating Lee Morgan’s music from “Live at the Lighthouse”. They did “The Beehive”, “Nommo”, “Speedball”, “Peyote”, “Neophilia” and more. The musicians involved are all excellent musicians. The notes out of Dwight Adams trumpet are so pure and clean that they cut through the air and into my brain with ease. Mike Jellick on keys is so brilliant and inspirational. His improvisational skills are so impressive that I can only say that each number is a pleasure. It was an awesome first set and it was one of those transcendent experiences that let me know how beautiful and life affirming music can be.

My Very Short Stay in the Commune

There are and have been times in my life when I want to run away. Fight or flight? Sometimes it is flight. When I lived in Berkeley, CA in the mid 1960s, there were times that life just seemed much too hard. I was a single mother going to school. At the time, i was going to Oakland City Community College in Oakland. The world I knew as a child didn’have single mothers. My mother reiterated time and again that she hoped someone would find damaged goods attractive. I was the damaged goods.

Some things in Berkeley were easier. There was a citywide childcare and the charge was based on income. It was run in conjunction with the Department of Education at UC Berkeley. The jobs available to me as a high school grad in CA at the time were not good jobs. I wanted to provide something more for my daughter.

There were easy ways to run away for the afternoon. Free music in the park. Movies run by various campus groups almost for free. There were political meetings. There were also meetings about communes. Some of the meetings were to start communes and others were to recruit. Some were just to inform people of the wonderful life of a commune.

A group of about 5 of us decided we wanted to see some of the communes with the intent of joining. Donna had access to a family cabin in Sonoma County and we decided to stay there for a weekend and check it out. The Morningstar Commune started by Limelighter Lou Gottlieb in nearby Sebastopol was the place that looked the best. No one was denied and no one was turned away. I saw it as maybe a way to offload a little of the responsibility of being the sole provider for my child.

We started out early in the morning so we could see what went on all day in the hippie enclave.

It was hard to find and since I was thinking of staying for maybe the weekend before moving permanently, I bought a carton of cigarettes. It took along time to find the place. The road was not well marked. We finally spotted a small sign showing the way to MorningStar Ranch. Then, we drove up us long, long dusty road finally arriving at a very large ranch house. We saw several people milling about the front yard. We parked the car and approached them. They all welcomed us and asked me for cigarettes. By the time I entered the ranch-house, I had lost half a carton of cigarettes. I was beginning to wonder about how this was going to work out.

One of the communards offered us a tour and we gladly accepted. He said I could leave my daughter in the ranch house and someone would look after her. A young woman with a child in her arms offered to watch her while we toured. Char had found some other kids to play with so I felt somewhat at ease in leaving her for a short while since she was having sun with other kids. There were also about fifteen adults in the main room.

First, we want outside and walked down to the fields being tilled. The idea was that the rancor was to be self-sustainable. There were about three people working in the fields. We walked over to the vineyards amd saw a couple of people working there. I asked about the few number of workers and my tour guide said there were other things to do like cooking. They also had shops that made guitars and other crafts for sale such as hand knit sweaters. I knew I could knit and cook. Maybe it would work out. I asked about the cooking and the tour guide took us back to the ranch house and into the dining and front room for lunch.

We had a very bad very vegan lunch. I'm not sure that vegan was what it was called but vegan is exactly what it was. We had a lot of brown rice with some fresh vegetables. My daughter would not touch it. I tried. It was bad except for the fresh veggies. The brown rice was so overlooked, it was almost pasty and without seasoning. After lunch, the guide suggested we walk around and talk to people. My daughter ran off with her new friends.

We went to the living room and talked to a couple sitting there. I asked how often they helped out. They told me that they didn't have to work. Some people worked but no one was assigned work. You worked as you felt like it. It seem that the folks I talked to just didn't feel the need. I talked to a few more and it was similar. I decided to try the kitchen. There were people working in the kitchen. They seemed to be enjoying themselves. I found out that the women in the kitchen did most of the kitchen work and liked it and they never went hungry. They said there were problems getting enough food. They also said the owner of the farm was rich and took care of it.

We had enough ….I went to find my daughter so we could get out. My dreams of commune living were shattered. I found my daughter eating dirt in the backyard by an open sewage pipe. The adults in the area had decided it wouldn’hurt her. I had a very different opinion. We almost ran.

I think this was the first time my ideals and reality had been so at odds

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Kentucky Derby Day

Today was the annual Kentucky Derby party. I was not really enthused about going. There is a controversy in the church right now and some people want to discuss it at any church social event. It is just fills the room with negative energy. It is no more than gossip and I tend to lose respect for the talkers. Is that all they can talk about?

I got a call today from someone going to the party and they asked if I wanted a ride. So, it was decided. I would go to the party. I got out one of my summer big hats and decorated it just a little. It was no where near as grand as the incredible creation seen on the tv of the event itself. It was enough though for an afternoon.

The party has some traditions at this point. There are mint juleps served outside or in the house depending on the weather. Today, it was outside. The weather was a little cool but the sun was shining brightly all day. There were bottles of water, cans of pop and home brewed beer as well.

Slowly and surely canapés and appetizers started appearing from the kitchen. There was a cheese spread covered with orange marmalade and topped with a few chopped scallions. While I was enjoying the cheese spread on crackers, another hot canapé appeared at the table. It was melted cheese with bacon bits on a rye bread, warm and savory. The were cucumber sandwiches at the table outside.

About 45 minutes before post time, our host began taking the bets. A friend of mine had checked it out and had a list. We had the Daily Racing Form, another paper and some other cheat sheets. I picked my friend’s suggestions plus one….$5 on each. I picked Orb, Verrazano, Goldencents and Mylute. Orb won and I got $42 …unexpected and nice.

After the race the dinner was served. It was pulled pork sandwiches, slaw, fruit salad, potatoes, burgoo, veggie lasagna, bourbon cake, pecan pie and more. It was good. I love pulled pork and had a desire to visit Slow’s BBQ for their version.

The son of the hostess was there as well. He was wounded in Afghanistan and lost his left leg. He is doing so well with his prosthetic leg. This is a hidden war. No pictures on tv. No draft. Only a few involved. A war safely hidden from the middle class. If middle class kids hadn’t been drafted in Vietnam Nam, would ther have been an anti war movement.

Got home and was tired with no desire to do anything more for the day.

Waiting for the real deal

Yesterday was one of those long days…. I had a morning dentist appointment and learned that I need another major repair. I spent the afternoon at UUCF at the rummage sale helping out. It was not bad. I managed the BUC sale for several years and here, I am on the periphery. The manager blew off several ideas and at the same time says she wants ideas from the volunteers. Then I went grocery shopping…..all in all tiring.

I am also trying to figure out how to organize my day so I get thins done……housework, garden, admin, gym, study and practice.

Last night I went out for some music and had a choice of several places. I picked Motor City Wine in Detroit for or several reasons. The most important was that it is a no hassle place. I did find a parking spot easily.

When I arrived, the music hadn’t started so I talked to one of the musicians for a few minutes. I was a little disappointed until the last number and decided to go home rather than go anywhere else.