Jazz on Monday Night at the Harbor House

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Monday, July 29, 2013, jazz at the Harbor House started with the usual house band which is Milton Hale(drums), Phil Hale (keys), Greg Cook(bass) and Chris Branch(tenor sax). I got there later than usual and the band was already playing. The nice part of getting there when the band is playing is that I can get settled and comfortable a before chatting with anyone. I’m an introvert is a social setting which means social interaction can be difficult. I have been around enough so that people do talk to me. The idea of introducing myself to someone new is torture and so I just don’t.

I sat where the sound is good. Each venue is go to has a different sound pattern which varies depending on who is playing. For the most part, the Harbor House is too loud. Part of the sound issue is that I don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol deadens the senses including hearing so I may be the only one who is bothered by the loudness. With the Harbor House, the solution is not found by going to the back since the sound is distorted there. Sitting in the middle means you cannot see the band. This time I sat a little back which for me is the best compromise place.

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This picture above from left to right shows Chris Branch, Glen Oliver on bass, Milton Hale on drums and Phil Hale on keys. Glen Oliver filled in on both keys and bass that night. Quite a few musicians showed up to play and it made for different configurations. Mark Croft(tpt), Alan Denard (tpt), Allan Barnes(sax), Sabrina(sax), Misty Love(vox), Sky Covington(vox), and Denise Dotson(vox) all were a part of the jam.

I talked to Chris Branch a bit about my dulcimer during the break. He thought I played the mountain dulcimer so I showed him a pic of the hammered dulcimer which is really a harp on a board. The strings are played with hammers.

The best song of the evening for me was Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum(Wayne Shorter). All the musicians played a bit on this one. This is the first time I can recall the song being done here and I really enjoyed it. The musicians really worked well together on this one.

Then, Milton called up Misty Love to sing “What a Difference a Day Makes” and she did a great job as usual.

Sky Covington (left) with Allan Barnes on sax did “Love for Sale”. Scott Reiter (sax) also accompanied Sky. The mike was a bit muffled but otherwise it was a good version of the song.

Lastly, Denise Dotson sang which is the last song of the evening.

The band closed as usual and I went home.

Friday Night at Motor City Wine and Berts

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Last Friday slight, July 26, 2013, I checked out various sites to see who was playing where.
I decided to go first to Motor City Wine since they will be moving this week and I enjoy the group that was playing there.

Mike Jellick (keys), Eric Nachtrab (bass) and Jesse Kramer ( drums) comprised the trio for the evening. They are in the picture above. As I walked from my car which I parked in my secret and always available parking space, I thought this is the last time for walking up the very long steps. They were playing when I arrived. I talked to a musician friend of mine who was playing at a nearby venue and was taking his breaks at Motor City Wine to listen to the trio. I sat down and sank into the the music. The music was flawless at least to my ears. I had arrived with my usual impeccable timing, after a couple of songs they took a break.

I talked to some people I know and had a good time. The band started the second set. They did “Someday My Prince Will Come” and did a great job. The improv that Mike did cause me to smile just thinking about it. After the set, I went to Berts to listen to the John Douglas Quartet.

Finding a parking spot was a bit difficult. There is a musical complex with three venues and all of them were going when I arrived. I did find a spot and when I got to the door, the guy who takes the cover charge of $ 5.00 was not at the door. I went in and sat down to listen to the music. The second set is usually a long set and I got to hear about 80 minutes of music. This is my comfort jazz.

They played “Moanin’ ” and I love the way they played it. These professional musicians push each other to be better when they play together. Since some of the numbers are the same each week, it allows the musicians to play different solos each week. Tonight the quartet was John
Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis (piano), Butter Hawkins (dms) and Ibrihim Jones (bass). All the solos this week were interesting and added a new dimension to the music.

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They also played “Grazing in the Grass”(Hugh Masekela) as the last song in the set. It was the first time I had heard them playing the tune. On this one, Ib Jones really stepped out and did a great job. It is a great tune. At one time, it was overplayed but that was long ago and it was time for a rebirth.

After the set, I sat with someone I know and chatted for a few minutes. John came over and I got a hug. We all chatted for a few more minutes.

I left after the set even though there was one more to go. And I went home happy.

Joe, Where Are You?

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I walked into the kindergarten class of Ms. Sawyer in Pontiac, MI where I was going to tutor kindergartners who were not “kindergarten ready”. In other words, the kids did not know colors, shapes, identify numbers and letters and sit still for about 10 minutes. About 95% of the kids qualified for both free lunches and breakfasts. Sometimes this was the only food they got for the day. I was told not to give the kids any gifts so as not to create a classroom problem.

Ms. Sawyer introduced me to the five kids I would work with once a week for about a half hour per child. Joe was a large chubby little boy who would be one of my kids. The first week, we sat down and just got to know each other in a separate space right outside the classroom. Joe was charisma personified and wanted to take me on a tour of the school rather than sit still. He could not sit still for any amount of time. I asked Joe to tell me about his life and he squirmed. When I took him back to the classroom, the kids were sitting on the floor waiting for a story. Several kids shouted for Joe to come and sit next to them.

I worked with Joe all year and found ways to help him sit still learn a little. I found when I was teaching him about animals and singing “Old McDonald had a Farm” with him that singing had an amazing calming effect. So, we sang songs about shapes and colors. I knew this was not going to work in the classroom but Joe was catching up. And his home life was getting worse.

One week I came and Joe had been suspended. He was under a table for story time and lifted a table with his feet which turned and landed on another child. It was termed violent.

The next week I changed things a little. I got permission to let Joe visit the therapy dog at the end of the half hour if everything went well. Joe and I got a lot done. Each week he hugged and snuggled with the large Golden Retriever therapy dog. His dad got out of prison and things improved a little. By the end of the year, Joe was up to speed.

During the year, Joe found his way into my heart and now after fifteen years I wonder where he is and how he is doing.

Blogging Benefits

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The first benefit I noticed from blogging was that I got to show things from my point of view. I have strong opinions. i talk about my dog, garden, music, food and more. I am an educated person who travels in an uneducated world a lot of the time. Sometimes it is a choice and sometimes a circumstance. Blogging allowed me to express some of the disconnect I feel.

Also, I am in Detroit a lot for music. I see the beauty and the warts. I get to talk about the beauty. And soon I will talk about some of the warts. Another view of Detroit…

The surprise was being able to access the blogs of so many others and read their stories. I see snapshots of life from around the world. It is in a form where I can take it in and reflect. That is truly the best and has expanded my world.

Thanks to all you bloggers….

The Funhouse at Motor City Wine

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Last night, July 24, 2013, was the last night for the Funhouse at Motor City Wine at the place on Woodward. Motor city Wine will be moving to another place in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit this coming weekend. It will be a different area for me but it is another Detroit revival neighborhood and there are several music venues in the area as well as an iconic barbecue place called Slows Bar BQ. I’m looking forward to exploring a new neighborhood.

I arrived for the second set and heard there was a good size crowd. I saw several people I knew and said my hellos and talked to a few people in the room. The owner/ bartender poured me my blood orange soda. I asked him about the new place. He talked about the new patio at the new place and some of the plans he had for new bands at the new place. The band began to return and I found a place to sit down.

Jams or Gigs?

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There are three types of musician events that I see when I go out to see music. As the title suggests, they are gigs, jams and a mix. These are the one I see in the Detroit jazz music scene. The jams in the dulcimer community are quite different but gigs are the same.

The gig is and event where a band is playing s for the evening. A jam is usually a house band for one set than other musicians who are at the bar are on a list to play and whoever is running the jam sets up musicians to play with each other and they play.

The best part of a gig is that I get to see a group of professional musicians play some numbers competently. This is the kind of music it is so easy for me to just lose myself and go with the music. For me, this is the best way to check out people I have not heard before and get a sense of who they are as musicians. Sometimes at gigs, a musician in the audience may be asked to play but usually in an extemporaneous way.

Then, there is the jam which is more unpredictable. It usually starts with a house band for one set and then other musicians rotate through the band on stage for the rest of the evening. Some jams have lists and some have a person who set up who will play when. Some allow many musicians to play on one song. The jam can be great when extraordinary musicians show up to play and they can be dreadful when musicians and vocalists who are not very good show up and try to dominate. Also, the jam is where young student musicians get on stage and learn how to play in public. I like the part where I can hear the young, raw talent and see them improve over time. The jam also relies on curtains standards because they are in everyone’s repertoire.

Now that I know the format of each, I can pick and choose whichever fits my mood. This is a realization I have come to over quite a bit of time. When I go out now, I have a much better time of it than at the beginning.