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.

Noah Jackson Quartet at Cliff Bells – 12/26/2015

Cliff Bells 12/26/2015

The place was decked out for the holidays and for the first set it was standing room only.

 

Jazz Police in attendence…l to r Judy, Marsha, Mie and Pam

Noah Jackson is one of those many musicians who was raised in Detroit and now resides in New York. During the holiday season, many a of the Detroit born musicians return to Detroit for part of the holidays and play at he clubs in town while they were here.

The quartet was called Full Circle and three excellent local musicians filled it to make it a quartet.

 

Noah Jackson

And on keys:

 

Ian Finkelstein

On sax:

 

De’Sean Jones

And last and one of the best:

 

Nate Winn

The music was fierce and passionate. With the professionalism of the musicians, they pushed each other to excel rather than stepping all over each other.

During the second set, we got to sit down so it was much easier for me to just sit back and enjoy the music. For me, my favorite number of the evening was Nica’s Dream composed by Horace Silver. When a group plays a  standard, you get to hear how they treat the music. I found their version more dynamic than what I usually hear. It is so much fun to hear a song played a new way.

 

 

MissyLu: Squirrel Stalker

Several times a day, MissyLu and various squirrels have a run in the yard. At this point, the squirrels know she is coming and MissyLu has her chase routine down pat. 

 

MissyLu’s intended victim..squirrel eating seeds

 
Yesterday, I saw the squirrel and knew Missy was in the yard and wondered why the squirrel was still eating a quiet breakfast.  Missy was watching and moving slowly across the deck. She was doing a hog version of stalking….moving slowly and quietly.

 

Quietly stalking dog

 
And then the squirrel heard and was up the tree with Missy chasing.

 

Squirrel, i see you ….

 
 

Squirrel, i still see you…

 
As the squirrel goes from tree to tree MissyLu follows until the squirrel leaves the yard leaping from tree to tree. Then, MissyLu secures the yard perimeter.  A job well done….until

 

I’m back….

 
When I got MissyLu, I was told that she was a quiet dog who never barked.   MissyLu has found her voice both inside and outside our home.  

Disaster, Despair, Redemption and Reveling: Chicken Tortilla Soup

 

Spicy Chicken Soup

This was supposed to be chicken tortilla soup. Things started well and then just went awry. This was a Blue Apron offering and I ended up changing it quite a bit.

As you can see, there are no tortillas slices. I burnt them.  They would have added a layer that would have cut down on the spicy flavor of the broth.  When I tasted the broth, it was just too spicy for me. I didn’t like the flavor. The broth was not thickening probably because I rinsed the cannellini beans too much. The chicken was good.  The rainbow chard and beans were good.

I ended up adding a tablespoon of tomato paste which made it less spicy. It did really change the soup.  I also added a spoonful of crème fraîche to ease the spiciness as well.

So, I have no idea how this was supposed to taste but I liked the flavors after I made my unexpected alterations.

The Mighty Funhouse at MotorCity Wine

It was a rainy, windy evening and I decided I needed some music. The wind was so strong that the dog was huddled up to me as I looked over the possibilities available for the music I like on a Wednesday evening in Detroit. There were about four “regular” choices. I decided on The Mighty Funhouse who play every Wednesday evening in the Corktown area of Detroit. 

 

The Mighty Funhouse, Left to Right: John Douglas, Phil Hale, Skeeto Valdez and Paul Randolph

 
I was surprised when I got to the parking lot to see how crowded it was on a Wednesday and then remembered that a lot of people are off work or in town for the holidays. I walked in to the sound of the music and virtually no place to sit so I got a lemon soda and stood at the rail looking I to the room where the music was being played. After just a bit a girlfriend tapped me on the shoulder and showed me an open spot next to her and her friend at the bar. I usually don’t sit at the bar and so this was a fresh perspective. As I saw people I knew, there were hugs all around and I felt at home again listening to the music. 

The present composition of the Funhouse produces an unusual sound. Each of the musicians usually plays in a different genre. 

Skeeto Valdez has the most experience in rock and funk. He also plays drums in a jazz group frequently. He is a master at several genres and the organizer behind the Mighty Funhouse. 

 

Skeeto Valdez

 
Phil Hale usually plays either jazz or R’n’B.  As with many Detroit musicians, he started playing at an early age in church.

Phil Hale

Paul Randolph has most of his musical career out of work Detroit so what I see is that he does blues and vocals at this venue. 

 

Paul Randolph

 
Finally, there is John Douglas who primarily plays jazz. Although I have heard him play swing and R n B. 

 

John Douglas

 
Last night one of the other patrons and I were trying to figure out what genre we were hearing. We just could not find a good answer. This band is borrows from all the genres I have mentioned and you can hear all of them in the sound. A normally straight forward blues tune will have a little jazzy overtone provided by John Douglas. 

They usually do “Ain’t It Funky Now ” which is a great number to showcase all their talent. I was able to leave with a happy brain.

Near Miss Dinner – Spiced Pork Chops

 

Spiced Pork Chops with Charred Poblano Salsa and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

This Blue Apron dinner was a near miss with me. All the components were good but just didn’t work well together. This one also tasted better on the second day as leftovers.

The salsa was the ingredient that was something I normally would not have added to the dinner and I can see using it again with some minor alterations. I tend to follow the recipe the first time and alter things the s cond time around. The reason it taste better to me on the second day was that the heat from the roasted poblano pepper came through. The salsa was a roasted poblano pepper and two roasted scallion bottoms. It also had a fresh Granny Smith apple, the green tops of the scallions, chopped cilantro and the juice of a lime. In this case, I think I will hav less apple in the future so the heat of the poblano can be more prominent.

It was a refreshing addition to he pork chops which had been rubbed with chili powders, cumin and coriander and seared. The other component as mashed sweet potatoes. They were really good. They were quite sweet and did not meld with the pork chops and salsa.

I have to say that before getting food from Blue Apron, any potato I tried to mash  was a disaster both white and sweet. I am so grateful that I can finally add mashed to my cooking  repertoire.

Dinner Winner: Carmelized Meyer Lemon Spaghetti 

 

Carmelized Meyer Lemon Spaghetti

This is one of the dinners I got from Blue Apron this week.  In the past, I have not paid attention to vegetarian dishes. There have been so many past potlucks where I have eaten vegetarian dishes that have been tasteless.  As I am learning, anyone can produce tasteless food but to me it was more obvious in what I have eaten of vegetarian food in the past.

First, this dish was easy to make. Secondly, the taste was fantastic. It was normal spaghetti but the layers of flavor added to the spaghetti made it something to remember and put it into the food I will make again file.  Meyer lemons are in season in the winter and have a sweeter, more vivid taste than normal lemons. After deseeding  the quartered lemon, it was marinated with some sugar and cut into eight pieces. I had zested the rind for two teaspoons of zest.

The base of the dish was cooking the marinated lemon, three cloves of garlic,  a thinly sliced shallot and some crushed red pepper for just a bit of heat.  The smell coming up from the pan made my mouth water. The recipe called for toasting some panko breadcrumbs with a garlic clove.  I added the cooked pasta to the lemon mixture with some butter, the lemon zest and some pasta water and mixed it all up.

When I added it to the plated dish, I topped it with the toasted bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. It was like music in my mouth.  The lemony pasta with a hint of sugar and garlic topped with the crunchy toasted breadcrumbs.  The Parmesan added especially to the great smell and the parsley added a note of a fresh flavor.  This one is definitely one I will do again.