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.

Back to the Cadieux Cafe

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This afternoon after work, I watched my dog Bonnie in the backyard checking the perimeter of the yard making sure that no intruders had arrived during the long winter. She barked periodically letting all the dogs in hue he neighborhood know she was out and about again. We both had an early dinner. Her dinner was different than mine.

Then, I decided to go to the Cadieux Cafe for the Hughes/Smith Quintet. It is quite a long drive. I have a new car and now I can be confident that I will reach my destination. The car has a great sound system (a necessity for someone who likes music as much as I do). With my old car, my hiatus also meant I did not go out for music much.

The show was supposed to start at 8:30 p.m. So I arrived at about 8:45 p.m. And there was no band set up. They did get it all set up in record time so the actual start time was 8:55 p.m. The waiter came by and asked I of I wanted the usual which is hot wings and club soda with lime for this place. And it was just what I wanted. He was back within a minute telling me there were no more wings. I looked at the menu and while I was still pondering, he came back and said they had found some wings that were not the usual wings but they were wings.

For the next few minutes, I listened to the music. The group was James Hughes(saxes), Jimmy Smith(tpt), Phil Kelly(keys), Takashi Io(bass) and Pete Siers(drums). They are all good players and this was the first time I had heard some of them.

The first set consisted entirely of compositions by either Smith or Hughes. This puts me in an unusual place mentally. It means I do no know what to expect on any of the numbers. There is no comparison available. I really do like a mix of originals and standards.

My wings came. The hot sauce on the wings had the great sweet heat I was expecting. The chunky blue cheese dipping sauce was a savory and flavorful. The wings were not good. They seemed to have a glob of fat on each one. It got so I was a trying to find it and remove it before biting into the wing to avoid the ball of fat. I began to wonder if they were chicken wings and my imagination took off. Perhaps they were pidgeon wings or maybe partridge or what could they be? I didn’t finish them.

I can say I liked the music probably since it was a traditional format. I moved to get a little closer. Also, the people next to me were talking and the guy likes to pontificate in lengthy detail everything he knows about jazz. The numbers were different depending on the composer either Smith or Hughes. Smith tended to have more pronounced rhythms and Hughes was more melodic. I did especially like Hughes composition called Waltz for Anna.

I left after the set and listened to Miles Davis “Sketches of Spain” on the way home on the incredible audio system in my car,

Tumbao Bravo at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe…11/7/13

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This was a long time coming. I decided to use a “real” camera and getting the pic from there to here the first time was a “learning experience”. And there were also some other major distractions.

The first time I saw Tumbao Bravo was at the Michigan Jazz Fest in about 2005. That is a great place to sample things and they got jumbled with the many other groups I heard that day. I do remember that when I hear the words Latin jazz, they were not what I expected. The Dirty Dog jazz experience is set up so that what you get is one set with something to eat. For me, it is hard to combine the two.

For this evening, the group was Alberto Nacif on congas, Paul Vornhagen on sax, flute and piccolo, Javier Barrios as a multi percussionist, Brian Debasio in piano, John Barron on the upright bass and Paul Finkbeiner on trumpet. Bob Mojica also stepped in on a couple of trumpet numbers.

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Left to right: Javier Barrios, Alberto Nacif, John Barron, Paul Finkbeiner and Paul Vorhagen

Overall the music had a definite Afro- Cuban beat. As I said, it is hard to eat and thoroughly listen to the music. So, a lot of this is impression rather than intent listening. I am missing the intense listening and have some planned for this evening. The impression I had was, for the most part, a happy , energetic music that just made me feel good. I felt good to the point where although an additional venue beckoned, I decided not to go. My favorite numbers of the evening were “El Chico” and”Los Moros”. They made me sit up and really listen. I liked the complex rhythms and melodious songs where the melody twists like a vine through the beats of the rhythm leading my mind to a quieter place.

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, 11/7/13….The Meal

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When I first noticed the three course for thirty dollars, I had wanted to try it. When I checked out the prices, it was a good deal. So last Thursday night when we went in to see Tumbao Bravo ( another post), I finally ordered the meal. All the choices were also on the regular menu.

I started with the spinach salad. I had eaten it before and it was not spectacular. It was different from the usual house salad. The spinach was baby spinach. In addition, there was a half a hard-boiled egg, some red onion, some roasted red peppers and mushrooms. The dressing was light and the salad was not heavily dressed. As it comes to the table, the spinach is in the middle and the other ingredients are in each corner. And it is a mixing project at the table.

For the entrée, I ordered the baked salmon. I cook salmon often at home and I have developed a couple of sauces and ways to cook it that I really like. There was a little alarm voice going off in my head saying don’t do it. I asked the server if it was wild caught or farmed. She said farmed. The little alarm got louder. It said baked with seasonal vegetables. And a louder alarm sounded. I was so hungry for salmon, I ordered it anyway. It was over cooked and bland for my taste. I can say the glaze which was a good addition. I think it was ginger, soy sauce and honey or some other sweetener. The seasonal vegetables were Brussels sprouts and chick peas in some sort of other seasoning. As I ate the veggies, I got a definite crunch in my mouth. It was bacon. In fact, there were several noticeable pieces of bacon in the seasonable veggies. The pic below is really much worse than the food. I turned off the flash and the camera compensated by adding a red filter. The restaurant asks that patrons do not use the flash while the musicians are performing.I did as much as I could with my limited editing capabilities.

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The dessert saved the meal. They called it an apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream, in a phyllo pastry cup on a bed of caramel. The apple in the phyllo cup was diced and cooked in apple pie seasonings and warm. It was topped with the cinnamon ice cream. I managed to scrape a little caramel off the plate with each sweet, tangy bite. It was a wonderful ending especially with the great coffee they serve.

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Tumbao bravo was performing that evening and they are different from what I usually see. That is for another post.