Curtis Taylor Quartet at Cliff Bells – 12/27/2015

 

Curtis Taylor Quartet l to r: Nate Winn(drums), Curtis Taylor(tpt), Marion Heyden (bass) and Kamau Kenyatta (piano) photo by Mark Brown

I went to Cliff Bells that night with certain expectations. I had never heard Curtis Taylor. The other three musicians are well known in Detroit although Kamau Kenyatta does not live in Detroit.

My favorite of the evening was Freddie Freeloader, an old standard. Curtis Taylor played a wonderfully melodic version of this and all songs during the evening. Nate Winn is an articulate was, as usual, able to raise the performance level.  I had expected to get “smooth” jazz from Kamau Kenyatta and instead got a fierce and passionate performance.

It was a good musical evening.

Adopting and Adapting….

I heard from the people who had Missy Lou for the four months preceding my adoption of her that she was a nervous dog.  On the outside of their house, she was calm. Inside, she paced and panted.

When I brought her home, she was a little scared and apprehensive.  It was her fourth home in less than a year

Missy Lu…Day 1 at home

She was one relaxed dog by the third day in my home.

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Missy Lu on the third day in my home..

 

My New Take on Winter Vegetables

 

Celariac (Celery Root)

I have always enjoyed cooking. But somehow, over time, my cooking got stuck. I wasn’t doing anything new. I changed things. I tweaked things. But, they were all variations on a theme.

This last May, I just was not in the mood to cook or even eat. So, I took the drastic action of ordering Blue Apron which is a food subscription service. I get three meals for two each week. So, I figured I would have dinner for six days a week.  At this point, I don’t get the shipment every week.

It has changed the way I cook and think about cooking. I have been introduced to seasonal veggies in a big way. I’m using spices, veggies, proteins and more that I have not tried before. It opened a new world. And I’m trying things I never would have attempted. I’m learning a lot.

Last week, I got some celeriac or celery root. I checked and it is in my grocery store and was just one of those things I didn’t notice.  I had seen it on restaurant menus as celeriac purée and never tried it.

The meal I prepared was chicken meatballs, braised kale and spiced cleariac mash. So I cooked it. My first day was not all that successful. I didn’t use all of the spices given to me for the chicken meatballs and they turned out to be really under-seasoned. The kale had a bit of vinegar added to it so it was not bitter and really was good. I mashed the celariac and it was a just not mashed enough.

Chicken meatballs, braised kale and spiced mashed celariac

 

The leftovers deserved a makeover. The kale was gone so I added steamed spinach. I really mashed the celariac and added a little butter, salt and pepper. I added a dipping sauce of soy glaze and rice wine vinegar for the tasteless meatballs. I also sautéed some parsnips.

 

Chicken meatballs, spinach, sautéed parsnips, mashed celariac and soy dipping sauce

This was really good. Both celariac and parsnips have not been a part of my cooking in the past. I’m glad I found them. The best part is learning how to raise a failed meal to a place where it is enjoyable eating.

Paradise Valley Jazz Lunchtime …8/19/2014

IMG_0685.JPGMobile Sculpture by U of Michigan art students, Beatrice Buck Park, Detroit, MI

Yesterday was a warm, partly cloudy day and a beautiful summer day to go to the Paradise Valley Jazz Series at Beatrice Buck Park in downtown Detroit.

IMG_0686.JPGLeft to Right: Rayse Biggs (tpt), Sean Dobbins(drums), Ralphe Armstrong(bass) and Scott Gwinell(keys).

These are some of the musicians in Detroit that are well known jazz all-stars. They played some of the well known jazz standards including “Song for my Father”, “Cherokee”, “Cold Duck Time”, and “Isn’t She Lovely”. Since the composer of “Song for my Father”, Horace Silver died this year, this has been an often played number. He is the theme of the upcoming Detroit Jazz Fest as well. And, I was hearing it from a different mix of musicians. It was really good. Rayse Biggs gave it a different treatment that I has heard before and it added to my enjoyment to hear a fresh approach. On “Cherokee”, Sean Dobbins did a nice drum solo.

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For “Isn’t She Lovely” which was the last number, Marcus Elliot on the far left joined the group. It was a great way to start the afternoon. Each time I see Marcus Elliot, I am more and more impressed.

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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.

Purse Snatching

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A few months ago I was at a musical event and there was a purse snatching. This was something I has heard about and somehow thought I would never see some thing like this.

I have often been advised by friends who see my purse hanging open as I walk down the street that I am inviting a purse snatching. I have a grip on the purse and think it will not happens to me and so far it hasn’t. This incident had made me aware and careful.

The evening started normally. The house band do the first set and musicians came in to join in on the second set. This evening it was talking with a friend who plays saxophone. He got his horns out and set them on a booth in the front which is usually vacant since the musicians are not visible from that booth. I had seen most of the people in the bar although some not enough to have a conversation.

The sax player ad I were talking when he looked over to the booth with his horns and noticed a young man looking at his horns. Musicians are always very protective of their instruments so he yelled at he guy to move. He did. This was someone we hadn’t seen before. My friend asked the bartender and she hadn’t seen him either. When he went up to play he asked me to watch his horns.

The evening went on and the new guy moved from place to place around the bar. This particular bar is long and thin. It has a 50 foot oak bar on the left as you walk in and tables and booths to the right. He sat at several seats at the bars, a booth and just stood in the back. He began to slip into the background as I listened to the music.

One of the women in the bar slipped Into the back of the front booths and had her belongs including her purse towards the wall so it was “safe”. The guy reached over the booth as snatched the purse. I didn’t see it. What I did see was the woman running out of the bar.

When she came back in, she was sobbing. The music stopped. Within a minute, the band knew what had happened. The band and several other men ran from the bar immediately. Everyone had noticed the new guy.

After about twenty minutes, the guys began to come back. They found the guy and held him down while someone else got the police. The bar is right next to the police main station and with a Tiger baseball game that evening, there were quite a few in the area. By the time they got him, the purse was gone and the guy insisted the musicians were wrong. The police asked him to empty his pockets in front of the woman who lost the purse and he had her keys and phone in his pocket. He was arrested.

The guy who came back was the one who held him down and had cut his finger in the process and told us what had happened. The other guys were helping the woman look for her purse and other things that had been scattered. Her purse and most of the things in the purse were recovered.

I was so surprised and pleased how fast the band and others came to her defense. The women in the bar comforted the woman. Since that time, I have been so much more careful with my purse.

Palmer Woods Music in Homes, Detroit, MI,

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On Saturday, June 21, 2014, I went to the finale of the Music in Homes series in Palmer park in Detroit. The event came I with a tour of the first two floors of the home, a catered dinner and on this evening a jazz program.

It was a beautiful evening in a older Detroit neighborhood with winding roads. Rounding each curve offers a new view of an elegant home. Most of the homes are derived from Medieval English architecture. The home for this concert was a Dutch Revival home built in 1928 by architect Robert O. Derrick. It is almost 7,000 square feet.

During the recent recession, the bank foreclosed on the house and it was left standing empty for three years before the new owner bought the house. They are in the midst of restoring the house to some of the original features where possible. We got to see the first and second floors. The house has four beautiful fire places including one with the original Delft tiles surrounding the fire place.

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This is one of the many interesting furnishings around the house.

20140714-133154-48714525.jpgThis was a view across the street from the second floor. The house was still in an unfinished state but it was easy to see the care and attention of the new owners and how dazzling it will be when it is finished. Perhaps Music in Homes will be invited back when the renovation is complete.

The jazz was performed under a large tent and after touring the house and socializing a bit, I went to the tent to get a good seat. The musicians were Kamau Kenyatta(keys), Spencer Barefield(gtr), Marion Hayden(bass) Djallo Djakate(drums) and Shahida Nurullah as the vocalist. We got a printed program with ten different numbers listed. Perfect for two sets. They played the first set and then took a break.

We went back into the house for the catered dinner by Potts Style Catering. We had Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Rice and Beans, Summer Citrus Salad with Peach Cobbler for dessert. The chicken was quite spicy, of course. It was not too spicy for my taste. The rice and beans had a way of bringing the spiciness down a bit. The salad was not as much citrus as the name suggested. And the peach cobbler was really very sweet. This was catered and they did a great job considering how long they had to hold the meal. Since I was at the end of the line, maybe the citrus was just gone by the time I got there.

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There was quite a line for the dinner.

After eating and getting settled, the second set began. Over the two set, the song I liked best were “In Walked Bud” by Thelonious Monk, “Mr. Kenyatta” by Lee Morgan. Shahida sang with such depth and passion that it reminds that there are vocalists whose voice is truly an instrument.

It was a really nice evening and I will go back when they resume in the fall.

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Left to Right:Kamau Kenyatta on keys, Marion Hayden on bass, Shahida Nurullah on vocals and Djallo Djakate on drums Spencer Barefield on guitar(hidden).

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.