The Mike Jellick Trio Conflated with a little Funhouse

MJT set ip at NNL

<The Mike Jellick Trio is conflated since it is covering two weeks. Every Wednesday night, unless there are substitutions, the Mike Jellick Trio plays for the evening, They play alone for the first set and have other musicians substitute or join in on other sets. I feely admit that I like the first set and much more often than not give the other sets a miss. I admire that the members of the trio do a lot towards mentoring many young musicians. The music is usually so good for me that I go home after the first set even though I may start the evening with other intentions. It may be also that I have something to eat at Northern Lights Lounge so I am also somewhat relaxed after the first set with a little food and a glass of club soda garnished with a slice of lime on the table.

The weeks I am talking about were November 20, 2013 and December 4, 2013. The trio had the same musicians with Mike Jellick on keys, Jesse Kramer on drums and Miles Brown on Bass. The two evenings had a completely different feel or maybe I did. Something I will never know. The factual difference is that on the first evening, Mike Jellick announced all the songs and on the second, one was announced. I did arrive after the set started on both evenings so all I can say absolutely is the only song I heard Mike announce on the second evening was “Swinging at the Haven”. The first week had Autumn Leaves, “Swinging at the Haven”, “Caravan” and “Benny’s Tune” and more.The difference may have been the crowd. The first week, the crowd was loud, attentive and appreciative. The second night was much quieter.DSCN0085/p> Left to right: Mike Jellick on keys, Miles Brown on bass and Jesse Kramer on drums.

I found that I really like hearing “Autumn Leaves”, “Caravan”, and “Swinging at the Haven”. Although some songs get tired and some are done too much, when I hear a group that can make these songs sound so fresh and new it is exciting and that is precisely what the Mike Jellick Trio does to the music. Of the three, my favorite is “Caravan” (not played the second week) and I have heard the song so many times it has its own groove in my brain. When the trio plays the song my groove has to rearrange itself to accommodate the fresh perspective offered. And it is exciting and makes me excited by music all over again. So, the key to why I like the group as I have said before in different words, the innovation I hear at this venue is beyond compare.

MJT

After the Mike Jellick Trio on December 4, 2013, I headed to Motor City wine for The Funhouse since I had the energy and had not been there in a while. The server at the bar remembered that I like the San Pelligrino blood Orange soda and got me a glass as soon as she was free. I walked in on the last song of the set. I refer to this as my impeccable timing.

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Left to right: Kris Kurzawa on guitar, Skeeto Valdez on Drums, James Simonson on bass and Philip Whitfield on keys.

I was sitting by myself when the servers from Northern Lights Lounge came in and we sat together. Skeeto had wished me a happy birthday and the refrain was repeated several times to my embarrassment. Of well, once a year is not all that tough. The Funhouse is another unique style of funky, happy jazz that is a real pick me up for me. This is a place where I can settle into a groove and go with it. It is another place where the musicians have played enough with each other that it is a group rather that a battle of egos. The music is tight and cohesive and is always solid entertainment. I left toward the end if the set since I had an early morning appointment. It is always hard to leave when you want more.

ROOMS at Cliff Bells

Cliff Bells ROOMS

Last night, I had planned to go to Motor City Wine to see the Mike Jellick Trio. in fact, that is where I started. When I got there, it was not the Mike Jellick Trio playing. The place was very crowded with a birthday party. It was one of those scenes where getting from point a to point b only ten feet away takes five minutes and bumping at least five people. the noise level was so high, the music could not be heard. I took about two minutes to decide that I had to find another place.

I set off for Cliff Bells which was only about seven minutes away by car. The group from Chicago was called “R O O M S Trio”. They are Dan Pierson on keyboards, Charlie Kirchen on bass and Matt Carroll on drums.ROOMS

They played mostly their own compositions as far as I could tell. They did mention a CD they have. None of the songs were introduced which means that I have no reference point if I want to listen to some of the music on the website. The music was highly entertaining intellectually and I did enjoy the set. They played as a very cohesive group and the solos were played well. At first , I didn’t feel anything emotionally and thought that it was only going to be a mind rush. But, as I relaxed into the music, the barrier to an emotional connection began to fall. It never relaxed completely but I could see the possibility for the future.

Dinner at the Dirty Dog

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Last night intent to the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe in Grossed Pointe for dinner and music again. I had planned on trying the 3 for 30 which is three courses for thirty dollars. This particular venue has quite an upscale menu and prices to match. When I saw the menu, I changed my mind. I ordered the spinach salad and fried chicken. They are both foods I like and do not do at home.

The spinach salad was described as spinach, mushrooms, red onions, egg, white balsamic with stone mustard crème. The spinach was baby spinach and all the other ingredients were there plus some roasted red pepper slices. It was good although the various ingredients were not well integrated into the salad. Of course, I did manage to do that for myself at the table. They also served me two fresh hot rolls at the same time. The rolls were served with butter that had seasoning on the top of the piece and was served with a little olive oil on the plate. The butter was soft and melted easily into the the warm fragrant rolls. The butter seasoning added just extra flavor. Unfortunately, I took the picture after I had elated half the salad.

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The fried chicken was not what I had expected at all. It was described as fried chicken, sage dressing and garlic spinach. It was served with the garlic spinach in the center of the plate with the sage dressing arranged around it. The fried chicken was on top. Where do I start? The garlic spinach when I found it was overlooked for my taste. I prefer it just wilted. The flavor was good though. The sage dressing, on the other hand, was wonderful. The actual bread pieces were much larger than usual and soaked with a deep savory gravy. Each piece was a satisfying nugget of wonderful. The fried chicken was actually a paillard of white meat breaded in panko. The chicken was dry. I saved it by eating a piece of dressing and a bite of chicken and sopping it up in any gravy I could find. I won’t order the fried chicken again but if they ever offer a side of dressing, I would take it in a minute.

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Mike Jellick Quintet and The Funhouse

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Last night, Wednesday, August 28, 2013 was a trip into the unexpected. I was in one of my usual ruts and wearing the rut deeper. I went to Northern Lights Lounge to see The Mike Jellick Trio. And last night it was a quintet. There were two additions during the first set. Jesse Palter, a vocalist, was in from Los Angeles. And Marcus Elliot, a saxophonist, was the other addition. I first saw Mike Jellick as the piano player for Jesse Palter at Cliff Bells in Detroit. They were much different than they are now. Both have much more depth and character to their performances now. I also saw Marcus Ellliot for the first time several years ago at Bakers Keyboard Lounge. And he is also much improved. I’ve learned that the very good performance that does not touch me emotionally from a young performer may be just a matter of a little time before they give a brilliant emotionally charged performance.

20130829-172129.jpg I came to see this. (Mike Jellick, Miles Brown and Jesse Kramer)

20130829-172249.jpgAnd got this. In this picture, Jesse Palter is the addition. I got so into the music that I forgot to get a picture of Marcus Elliot who was a big part of the reason the music made me forget about anything else.

Although I sat in the back since it was crowded when I arrived, the sound was good and is something I really like about the place. On the first number, Jesse Palter used her voice as if it were an instrument and was most like a clarinet. Marcus was on the soprano sax during that number. They all worked together as one shifting from one instrument to another seamlessly. During the set as Jesse was singing vocals, it was so refreshing to hear a vocalist enunciate making every word understandable. During the set I got my dinner of beef nachos. They went cold while I listened.

The last song of the set was “Bye, bye Blackbird” and is one I enjoy. She did not make it overly sad or snappy. And I finally got to my cold nachos. It was enough for at least three meals. They are good. The only things that could be improved is if it had fresh salsa and the jalapeño peppers were fresh. All the other veggies are fresh and flavorful.

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The quintet became a quartet losing Marcus Elliot during the second set. The quartet played “Blue Skies”. The pacing and tempo reminded me of a Frank Sinatra version I have heard with a completely different voice. All in all it is a pleasure to hear the musical growth of Mike Jellick, Marcus Elliot and Jesse Palter.

I then headed to Motor City Wine to see Skeeto’s Funhouse.

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And I expected to see Kris Kurzawa, Skeeto Valdez, Takashi Iio and Phil Whitfield. This is what I saw.

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Phil Whitfield, a Canadian, was stopped at the border crossing for an invalid visa which he will take care of by next week. So, Skeeto called in the reserves or four saxes, one trumpet a guitar and different keyboard player. It was a shock. I can’t remember what they were playing as I walked in. Takashi took me aside and explained the situation. They did sound good though. The last number they played was “Isn’t She Lovely”.

All in all it was an evening I didn’t expect. And I’m glad to have that kind of surprise in my life.

Harbor House on Monday with the Milton Show

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Left to Right: Oliver Nevels, Greg Cook, Milton Hale, Chris Branch and Phil Hale.

On August 26, 2013, I went down to the Harbor House to see the Milton Show. It was supposed to start at 10:30 p.m. and go until 2:00 a.m.. I got there at 11:35 p.m. and the music had not started. The owner of the Harbor House was searching for the musicians and quite upset. There was a much larger crowd than usual since the crowd was a combination of the after the Tiger Baseball game crowd and the music crowd. The staff was larger than usual and the service was good despite the numbers. I hadn’t been there for a while so there were lots of hugs.

There were so many very good musicians that the house band did not play alone for the first set. The original house band for the evening was Milton Hale(drums), Phil Hale(keys), Greg Cook(bass), Chris Branch(sax) and Oliver Nevels(guitar). The set was all instrumental even though there were a few vocalists in the house. Some of the vocalists showed up around 1:30 a.m.. I left at about 1:45 a.m. which was before the second set started so I have no idea how many vocalists sang.

With the large number of excellent musicians, the actual numbers have to be ones that all the musicians know or can at least fake fairly well like “Moanin'”. The group of musicians there all play well with others so the solos were short and sweet. What I like best about this kind of night is how the musicians comp each other. I was sitting towards the back but I could still hear when Dwight Adams started playing his trumpet. His sound reaches straight into my brain and lets the music flow through me.

20130827-104126.jpg In the picture above you can see John Douglas and Sabrina comp the other musicians. This makes such a full and rich sound totally unlike the normal trio or quartet. It is a different experience. Sometime you see musicians experiment with something a little different as well.

20130827-104817.jpg in the picture above Reichlan Small who usually play guitar is trying out jazz violin.

On this one I can’t go into much detail about the individual playing. I can say that this is the kind of music I feel and it opens my heart and brings joy to my world.

I left feeling emotionally satisfied knowing that staying longer would not improve my well being event though the crowd was large and there was a promise of more music to come.

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The Music, the Sound or the Ambience?

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Since I go out to hear music so often, I have learned there is no perfect place for music. Some are close to perfect and some are a train wreck. It seems as if I have mentally arranged places as good or bad for my listening enjoyment and it is a combination of the music, the sound quality and the ambience of the place. I am leaving out the large number of outdoor venues so available in the summer. I will be going to the Detroit Jazz Festival the first weekend in September since the music is so wonderful that it is a weekend of pure joy.

First, I look for music I like. There is a lot of great music that does not appeal to me but I want an evening that brings me some pleasure. However great music can be ruined both by a poor sound system or an ugly atmosphere. The poor sound can be a number of things. It can be too loud even to the point of distortion, uneven or just wrong for the style of the particular musicians. In one place that I go, the barkeep pulls men aside to point out women she thinks are easy…sort of a home grown pimp. I think she does it to increase business or possibly she wants to make herself look good by making others look bad. In some case she is just wrong and she makes the bar have an uncomfortable ambience. It is also so obvious that it is embarrassing and slightly disgusting. I do not go there as often as they have good music.

The sound is so important. There is one place that had a great sound person and the sound is right on. I go there frequently. Sometimes for music that is not that great since I know the sound will be the best for the band. They also have relatively good bar food. So, they have the combo of ambience and good sound. One place I go has great music and ambiance. It is the Diego Rivera Hall or the Kresge Court at the DIA. I can look around and see a place of great beauty. The food is really good. But, both room are bad for sound. In the Diego Rivera room, I have found that by moving around, I can find a seat with a sound ” sweet spot”. There is one club in town that also has bad sound and the sound guy must be deaf. I know I can hear good sound in one part of the place and that is where I sit in order to listen.

And the ambience can be a deal breaker. One place I go seems to draw large tables of very loud people who shout to be heard over the music. This is not a great place to go. The underlying reason is that so many do not realize that listening to music can be rewarding even in a bar.

When people listen at jazz concerts or at the DIA, the event is so much better and it seems that I’m heading in that direction.

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.