Big Fun and Dinner at Cliff Bells

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Halloween night was a perfect night to go out for music. At Cliff Bells, an avant guard band called Big Fun, was playing. I thought parking would be a breeze. I was wrong. The Insane Clown Posse was at the Fillmore is about a block away. I had a choice of paying a bit for parking or walking. I drove around and found a spot about two blocks away on a busy street. I parked and walked. It was in a steady rain with gusty wind. It arrived at Cliff Bells mostly wet.

I stepped back into the 1930s as I walked into the bar. I got there before the band named Big Fun started. I sat at the bar. They have seats with a little table jutting out from the bar which provides a place to eat as well as an intimate atmosphere for couples. I hung up my wet jacket and purse on the hook under the bar. i had planned on eating since my last food experience was not good. I i wanted to see if things would better on another night. When I finally got the attention the bartender, I asked for a menu. The roast chicken sounded like something I would enjoy. It took some time to get the attention of the bartender again. He almost went into shock when I ordered the meal. I think he now saw me as a reasonable tip.

The food came out and on this rainy, windy night was the comfort food I wanted. It was described as roast chicken with herbed gnocchi, cannelloni beans, Brussels sprouts, and saffron-vanilla cream.

20131101-095455.jpgAs you can see, the picture is not great. The aroma wafting up from the plate was an invitation to eat. The rustic presentation said comfort. I first tried one of the Brussels sprouts which was a little al dente and under seasoned for me. It is a veggie I eat at home a lot from the simple steamed preparation to a more elaborate steamed then sautéed in butter preparation. It is a hard veggie for me to cook to the just the point where I like it. I took the skin off the chicken and cut a piece of chicken. It had a savory sauce on it that I would have called gravy. Was this the saffron-vanilla cream sauce? I didn’t taste either saffron or vanilla. The chicken was moist and the gravy was a marvelous and savory addition. The herbed gnocchi were very light and I added the gravy which made them even better. I am not sure why the cannelloni beans were added to the dish. They did add another texture and had a deep, complex rich flavor. All in all, it was a great meal to have on a rainy wet night.

The band, Big Fun, was introduced as a part of the Detroit Vanguard series of avant guard jazz. I am not very familiar with the subset of the jazz genre but the write up said they would be going music from the Miles Davis album called Bitches Brew and I was familiar with the album. The members of the band were, as follows: Patrick Booth on alto and tenor sax, Steve Rush on keys, Jonathan Edwards on guitar, Tim Flood on bass guitar, Jeremy Edwards on drums and Dan Piccolo on percussion. The players were never introduced by name so I have not idea who was playing trumpet.

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They did play “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” which is one of my favorites from the album. I noticed immediately that the band sounded out of balance. I do not know if this was intentional or not. The bass player was the loudest instrument and was the dominating sound. When the keys were being played at and average volume, I could barely hear them. The drum and percussion for the most part were almost not there. So, the bass was the driver and the beat for the song. This was frustrating to me because I try to listen to all the instruments together and then try to give a listen to each instrument to hear its contribution. So, that being said, the overall effect was head banging jazz. They played other songs from the album and others came off with less of a driving beat.

I was an introduction and I might have enjoyed it more if I had not been wet. I will continue to listen to Avant Guard when I have the chance. And I will still love my Straight Ahead.

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