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.

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.

Music Triple Play

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Last Wednesday, July 17, 2013, I went out for music and the music and the energy led me to three different places and basically three different musical vibes.

The first place I went was Northern Lights Lounge which is in the the thriving, energetic midtown area. I go there quite a few Wednesday evenings to see the Mike Jellick Trio. When I first started going, it was a quiet bar. Now, more often than not, it is crowded. The trio has built quite a following. This night it was not the usual trio. It was Mike Jellick (keys), Ben Rolston (bass) and Stephen Boegehold (drums).

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On the food, this time I decided to go with my old favorite of Beef Nachos. I got enough food for two days. It is spicy, cheesy and best of all they use fresh tomatoes, onions and green peppers. It is served with a salsa and sour cream. It was good.

They did play “Caravan” and as usual it was different than anyone done before that I can remember. This is a song that does not tire me especially when Mike Jellick can have a different take on it every time he plays it. I arrived late and was towards the back. The tables between me and the music were filled with some very loud people. If they think this music is back ground music, I disagree. There are a lot of very nice elevators in town if they want background music. This a good straight jazz vibe.

I moved on to Motor City Wine. They will be moving in a couple of weeks and I wanted to go there before they moved and I do like The Funhouse with Skeeto Valdez(drums), Kris Kurzawa (gtr), Takashi Io(bass) and Phil Whitfield (keys).

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I got my blood orange soda which is so intensely good and settled in for a set of music. They started with “Carrot Cake” Which is one of my favorites. This music has a fun, funky vibe. Jazzthat is little more modern. And with the wall of sound, I can feel the vibrations.

A guy sat down to join me. He has joined me before and wants to hang out. This is maybe the fourth time. He can’t remember my name. He is interested and I’m not. I mentioned that MCW was moving. This was his first time in the place. He asked why I hadn’t told him about the place and he does not know my name. Why does he think I somehow should have known that he would be interested? A puzzle.

I went over to Harbor House to see Sky Covington. I hadn’t seen hear for a while.

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My phone was out of juice so no more pics. Again, another vibe. I got there during the jam portion so I got to talk to Sky and didn’t hear her. There is always this week because she be doing the gig for a month. This one was surprisingly more social with a little listening. I was open to the music and was able to relax and enjoy most of what I heard.

It was a good evening.