Detroit Jazz Festival 2016 Saturday, September 3

It was the first full day of the jazz fest and I got so filled with music that the result was rather overwhelming. There is a point in me where I can’t listen to music anymore and appreciate it. 

As I was walking to the stage on Hart Plaza, I saw Cassius  Richmond playing the saxophone and doing a wonderful job as usual.


I was on my way to see the John Douglas Quartet at the Carhartt Amphitheater  stage. They are one of the groups I see in Detroit at Bert’s warehouse on Friday night. So in this case, I knew what I was about to see. Somehow add a festival, the music just seems to be a little bit better. They did play one of my favorite songs which is “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise”. John Douglas is on the trumpet and the Alexis Lombre is on the keyboards. Ibrahim Jones is on the bass. I didn’t catch the name of the drummer. EditEditEditEdit

Next I went to another stage to see the Ken Cox reunion band. The musicians got up and told how much Ken Cox had meant to them because how much he mentored them all. All of that  before I was out listening to jazz. A lot of well known local musicians played including Rayse Biggs(tpt), Djallo Djakte(drums), George Bohannan(tone), Shahidah Nurullah(vox) and Kamau Kenyatta(keys).  There were others who also played . I really enjoyed the music and wish I had been around to hear Ken Cox when he was playing.


Then I went off to lunch before heading to a stage after lunch that was across the plaza. Although there are four major stages in a relatively small area the walking can be daunting especially through the crowds. I went to see the Stanley Cowell quintet featuring Billy Harper and Charles Tolliver. I had heard great things about this group and had never been to see them before. Actually the music was great and I really enjoyed it

Stanley Cowell quintet featuring Billy Harper and Charles Tolliver

Saturday lunch

I meant to stay for just a taste of the next act which was The Ron Carter Quartet. I didn’t especially like the performance they did on Friday night with before cellos it didn’t feel like jazz to me.  I ended up staying for the entire act it was so good. In fact, I would say is this is my highlight of the day. In a quartet setting, the music was just entrancing. It was a place where I could move with music and really let it into me


The last act that I saw for the day was Roy Hargrove quintet with the Detroit Jazz Festival string orchestra. It looks like the artistic director wants to add strings to the jazz performances as something a little different.  I have seen Roy Hargrove at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café just a few months ago. It was the kind of jazz I like. I stayed for two songs with the large string a compliment and decided I didn’t really like this approach for Roy Hargrove. Who knows it may be the way he’ll go in the future. It was just not my cup of tea. I have been at the jazz fest for about eight hours at that point and just had enough music. 

Finally, a Night Out…..Both Music and Great Food

Warren Wolf on vibes.
I went to The Dirty Dog Jazz Café last Wednesday night. I have been working long hours and have been exhausted since January but I have seen Warren Wolf before and had to see him again. I saw him at the Detroit Jazz Fest in 2014. Before I saw him I didn’t like vibes.  His performance that they turned me around. He played a great set and I’m glad I made it.


The evening was made better by the return of the Grand Marnier Chocolate soufflé with vanilla cream sauce. It had been off the menu for a bit and was my favorite dessert at the Dirty Dog.

It was a great evening with great music and unexpectedly wonderful food.

La Dolce Vita


A way of life and a restaurant in Detroit. On Saturday evening, a friend invited me to go to La Dolce Vita to celebrate my birthday. I had not been there for about 10 years and remembered with pleasure both the food and the ambiance.

From the front, there are three dim neon lights saying ldv. Going around the back to the main entrance is another story. There is valet parking and the lot was quite crowded. I walked through the entrance arch which were tastefully decorated with small white lights on to a patio emptied for the winter months. then through a door to a restaurant with several rooms. There was live music in the room with the bar. I was seated in the room next to the bar and only had to wait a couple of minutes for my friend. The Christmas decorations were right on the edge of being over the top.

The picture above is a view from the table. I remembered the bruschetta from 10 years ago as amazing and ordered it along with Chicken Marsala. My friend ordered Lobster ravioli and a salad.  Although the food was very good, I was slightly disappointed. The food was a reflection of the clientele.  It was solidly middle of the road and not very exciting. As I usually do, I ordered things I do not do or cannot do at home. A good choice since I can’t say I can do better. The meal was slightly bland. Even the dessert of Crème Brûlée was bland.

I fairly sure that with my interest in cooking for the last five or six years, I have changed. The food at La Dolce Vita has not.

Visiting my Home Town…..

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My Grandmother’s dressing table and my inadvertent selfie.
I have lived in and around Detroit for so long that I am now a Detroiter. I haven’t visited my hometown of Minneapolis and environs since my Mother’s funeral. My Aunt Betty has been asking me to come for quite for some time and I finally decided to go for a short family only visit. My brother, Bruce, is living with Aunt Betty. He is a chef and I wanted to taste his food again.

When I walked into the room where I would be sleeping, a rush of memories came back. The room was furnished with my Grandmother’s furniture. In the picture above, it is my Grandmother’s dressing table. I lived in her house for a some time and can remember seeing her at the table putting on her makeup. The picture came flashing back. Aunt Betty reminded me that she kept gum in the top left drawer to freshen her breath. And I remembered that I carefully removed some of the gum on occasion.

There was also a dresser, rocking chair and a reading lamp with an adjustable height so Grandfather could read in bed without disturbing anyone. I used the lamp to read at night. As I used it, I remembered it.

Although I haven’t talked about it much, I am a quilter. I am doing a Grandma’s Flower Garden quilt. I have seen so many of that pattern and none of them have seemed quite right. My Greatgrandma’s quilt was on the bed and it was just right.

20140814-102324-37404047.jpgthe best part of seeing it for me was that it was so well done. It shows a beautiful color sensibility and exquisite quilting. I can only hope that my version will be half as nice.

Jazz in Paradise, July 26, 2014

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This was the setting for a jazz concert. It was a part of the Mayflower Jazz Series hosted by Maxine Michaels. It was in a magnificent backyard which included several decks on the house, a fire pit. walkways through the woods filled with local flora and fauna including deer, a meandering stream, places to sit and just enjoy the surroundings.

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The concert itself took place in front of a massive tent which was erected over a basketball court. There were other tents for beverages light refreshments and vendors. All the food and beverages were complimentary. The weather was perfect. It was easy to just sit and enjoy.

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Left to right as seen in this picture: Vincent Bowen(sax), Marion Hayden(bass), Rqmona Collins(vox) and Michael Jellick (keys). Also present and not see in this picture were Dwight Adams(tpt) and Gayelynn McKinney(drums).

The musicians were all well known in the Detroit area. The music was very good and in that environment was so relaxing. The musicians played for a set and during the intermission, a guest singer, Sydney Ellis sang several songs including “Summertime”. The song tends to be so over done that he here have been times when I have just left a venue during a poor rendition. This offering was so good the song was a fresh again I my mind.

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Sydney Ellis and Mike Jellick. Marion Heyden, bass, was also playing.

After the music stopped for the break, I wandered around the grounds. I got up to the house decks and enjoyed the view( the second picture). The decks had quit a bit of seating and had enclosures with mosquito netting. The only distraction during the evening were the various bugs that chose the audience for dinner. I followed the meandering stream back down the hill.

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By then, the sun had set and the paths were lit so walking in the uneven grounds were not a problem. I got back to my table just in time for the second set.

The second set went well and I was feeling so good as I left or the evening after the set.

River’s Edge Gallery – A Change of Pace

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A friend invited me to the opening of “The Motor City Griot Society” by Steve Galzer, a ceramic artist, at the River’s Edge Gallery in Wyandotte,MI on June 20, 2014. Wyandotte is a community in the Detroit Metro area which is about 25 miles south of me. I have never been there so this was my first trip into a “Down River” community. During the last leg of the trip, I looked out my window to the left and saw that the community was on the Detroit River and had city parks to take advantage of the location. I soon arrived in the center of Wyandotte and went looking for a place to park. I got stuck in traffic.

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I found a place to park about a block from the gallery and considered myself lucky since the central business was alive with people and I could hear a performer singing under a tent about a block towards the river. As I got out of my car, I saw that I had beat the horse and carriage.

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It had been a rainy day and was still sprinkling at times. I walked across the street and wandered into a gallery that seemed to specialize in craft work. I wandered out again and decided to go to River’s Edge around the corner.

The gallery was a small gallery that had an eclectic assortment of art. They had paintings, mobiles, photos, sculptures, blown glass, ceramics, mixed media and more. I spotted the 40 piece griot collection on the far wall.

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I began to look around and saw some blown glass and ceramics.

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The gallery was on three floors and they were serving snacks on the second floor. They had an assortment of hummus, crackers, cheese and fruits. I sat in one of the chairs to look at he art. I had a seat where I could see quite a few pieces. I like this method of looking. I allow myself to slow down and my eyes go from piece to piece. I first saw a sculpture of a hand..

20140622-115343-42823590.jpg At first glance, it was an accurate rendition of a hand. By taking my time, I began to see how complex it was. If I rush, I just see the whole and miss all the details that are so extraordinary.

I walked downstairs just as my friend came in. It was fun to watch her make some of the same discoveries. There was to be music which was billed as “soul hop”, a combination of soul and hip hop. We chatted while waiting for the music. When the sic started we listened for a moment and continued to chat.

After chatting and touring all three floors we went to a coffee shop on the corner and had coffee to end the evening.

Spencer Barefield Quartet at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

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Last night on June 5, 2014 I went out to see the Spencer Barefield Quartet at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. This is a place where the food is also something to remember.

I got there in plenty of time and was seated at a table where it was easy to see and hear the musicians. There is a little note on each table reminding patrons not to talk during music. It did not deter the ladies next to me. However, they were talking quietly and were not really a disturbance. They had the special of three courses for $ 30 and I found that it was too much for me to eat the last time I went so I order a starter and an entree of things I had not ordered before. Taking pictures of the food is so difficult since the lighting during the music is red and it colors the food. So I will describe it as well as I can.

The starter I ordered was fried onions. They came after they served me some different kinds of bread with an herbed butter. The bowl of fried onions was large enough to serve as a starter for two or three. They were very thinly sliced sweet onions which had been dipped in a batter and fried to a crisp. They were served with a curry garlic aioli and with a spicy ketchup. They were great dipped in either sauce. I ate about half and the waitress asked if I wanted them to start the entree. I did.
I had ordered what they call the Fork and Knife Burger. It was once ground beef on a garlic toast with cooked spinach, mushrooms, a fried egg, a thin slice of foie gras topped with béarnaise sauce. It was large and more it was served with French fries. I was stunned by the size of the meal. It was wonderful. All the flavors went so well together. It was cooked medium rare just as I wanted.. Next time I ll order this alone. It is enough. I took home portions of the fried potatoes, fried onions and half of the burger.

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Left to Right: Djallo Djakte (percussion), Dave Young (bassist), Spencer Barefield (guitar) and Dwight Adams(trumpet).

Although I was eating and a split attention can make it harder to listen, they did a great job of having a balanced set that went with the atmosphere. I had not heard either Spencer Barefield or Dave young before. I can only say I enjoyed the set a lot. What I liked was that each of the musicians had a place to shine during the set and all of them did. None of musicians dominated and it was one of those times when you here people playing together and making each other sound better.

The two numbers I liked the most were “Nigerian Marketplace” and “A Night in Tunisia”. On “Nigerian Marketplace”, Dave Young took the lead since he had played this with Oscar Peterson. I liked it and came home to see other versions on YouTube. I am relatively new to jazz and sometimes when a song is in my head, I like to hear more of it. And this was one of those nights. The good thing about “A Night in Tunisia” for me is that it is familiar. When they play a familiar song, I like to see what they can do with it. And I enjoyed their version.

It is so good to hear a set of mature musicians who know what they are doing and do it so well.