Friday at Bert’s Motown Room

20130921-181612.jpg

Left to Right: Phil Hale(keys), John Douglas (tpt), Greg Cook(bass), James Carter( flute), Mark Lipson( drums) and Dwight Adams(tpt)

Last night was a magical, musical night that almost didn’t happen for me. I left the house in a torrential rain that just didn’t ease up. The rain was coming down fast and hard. I tried to stay in the center lane since both sides had areas of huge puddles that plumed high in the air when cars did go through them. It was dark and some sections of the freeway did not have working lights. At times on the way to Bert’s in the Eastern Market of Detroit, I thought about turning back. I didn’t turn back and arrived in time for the second set.

The house band for the evening was John Douglas, Phil Hale, Butter Hawkins(drums) and Greg Cook. However, the second set started with Mark Lipson on drums. They started with “Lazy Bird”. It started slowly and this one was not the kicked the energy surge in the room. At the beginning of the second song, the musicians in the room began to open their musical cases. There were saxes and trumpets being put together. I began to hear the quiet sounds of different musicians all around me checking their instruments. and getting them ready to play. The first to play that evening was James Carter. I’m not really sure when he began to play since for this evening I had put away my analytical tendencies and was feeling the music. He started with a piccolo.

20130921-183817.jpg This picture was taken before the picture at the top. James Carter also had a baritone sax with him that evening. It was so wonderful to hear his range from the highest audible notes to the lowest in his unique captivating style.

The music morphed into “So What” without a pause and the synergistic energy of musicians playing so well and pushing each other to play better started to flow through the room. When one musician was on the stage doing a solo, I could hear other musicians playing around me playing softly building the music into an unusual depth. It was no longer a quartet, it was a large ensemble of musicians playing as one. One of the particular things I liked about the evenings was how the solos of Dwight Adams went straight to my brain and just made me wonder how sound could cause such an emotional reaction. And then, another musician would solo and it just kept on for me through John Douglas, Phil Hale, James Carter, Mike Jellick and Larry Smith.

20130921-185639.jpgLarry Smith on alto sax

20130921-185743.jpgDavid Greene on trumpet

20130921-185855.jpgRafael Statin on tenor sax

20130921-190337.jpgMike Jellick on keys, Sébastien Levanneur on bass, Dwight Adams on trumpet and Darryl Pierce on drums

Larry Smith started “Body and Soul” and the music went on. As the place closed a little after 3 a.m. the band played Red Top which is the favorite song of Bert. It was a slight detour into blues but with this group playing, it was a complex and exciting piece of music.

This kind of music eases my mind and puts me in a place where I am happy. I have not smiled so much in quite a while or been so engrossed in the music.

Friday Night at Motor City Wine and Berts

20130728-090034.jpg

Last Friday slight, July 26, 2013, I checked out various sites to see who was playing where.
I decided to go first to Motor City Wine since they will be moving this week and I enjoy the group that was playing there.

Mike Jellick (keys), Eric Nachtrab (bass) and Jesse Kramer ( drums) comprised the trio for the evening. They are in the picture above. As I walked from my car which I parked in my secret and always available parking space, I thought this is the last time for walking up the very long steps. They were playing when I arrived. I talked to a musician friend of mine who was playing at a nearby venue and was taking his breaks at Motor City Wine to listen to the trio. I sat down and sank into the the music. The music was flawless at least to my ears. I had arrived with my usual impeccable timing, after a couple of songs they took a break.

I talked to some people I know and had a good time. The band started the second set. They did “Someday My Prince Will Come” and did a great job. The improv that Mike did cause me to smile just thinking about it. After the set, I went to Berts to listen to the John Douglas Quartet.

Finding a parking spot was a bit difficult. There is a musical complex with three venues and all of them were going when I arrived. I did find a spot and when I got to the door, the guy who takes the cover charge of $ 5.00 was not at the door. I went in and sat down to listen to the music. The second set is usually a long set and I got to hear about 80 minutes of music. This is my comfort jazz.

They played “Moanin’ ” and I love the way they played it. These professional musicians push each other to be better when they play together. Since some of the numbers are the same each week, it allows the musicians to play different solos each week. Tonight the quartet was John
Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis (piano), Butter Hawkins (dms) and Ibrihim Jones (bass). All the solos this week were interesting and added a new dimension to the music.

20130728-094939.jpg

20130728-094959.jpg

They also played “Grazing in the Grass”(Hugh Masekela) as the last song in the set. It was the first time I had heard them playing the tune. On this one, Ib Jones really stepped out and did a great job. It is a great tune. At one time, it was overplayed but that was long ago and it was time for a rebirth.

After the set, I sat with someone I know and chatted for a few minutes. John came over and I got a hug. We all chatted for a few more minutes.

I left after the set even though there was one more to go. And I went home happy.

Other Music This Week

I went out several times and only have mentioned one so far. Now, time to mention the others. It may seem strange how often I go out. For me, live music of the kind I like brings me to a transcendent place and it is a place I like. I feel like it is my authentic self rather than the self that is proscribed by all the the conventions that are a part of getting along in the world. Since I don’t drink alcohol, it is a “high” that can go on for hours and even days.

Last Monday, I went to the Monday night at the Harbor House featuring the Milt Show. The base group is Milton Hale(dms), Phil Hale(keys) and Greg Cook(bass). This week, Chris Branch(sax) joined in for the first set. I was sitting with a couple of girlfriends. They are both listeners and do not do a lot of talking while the music is playing. It was a good evening of music. During the evening there were two sax players…..Chris Branch and Scott Reiter. Both of them are good musicians. And there were four trumpets…..Dwight Adams, Alan Denard, Mark Croft and David Greene. Dwight Adams plays with Stevie Wonder. He is one of my favorite trumpets. His notes are brain piercing clear. When he plays the trumpet, that is all there is. I am completely drawn into the music. These are all experienced musicians and play so well together.

During the second set, Misty Love sang. My table friends left and another girlfriend joined me. It was a good evening.

20130615-105507.jpg
Dwight Adams on trumpet, Milt Hale on drums and Phil Hale on keys…

Last night is was Bert’s Jazz Room again and the John Douglas Quartet. The quartet this week was John Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis(keys), Ib Jones(bass) and Butter Hawkins(dms). I was there for the second set. When they did “Lazy Bird”, everyone in the place started cheering. Mike Malis was so hot that when another musician touched him you could almost see the steam rising from his body. There were other musicians as well : David Greene (tpt), Dan Rice(trbn), Mark Croft(tpt) and Roger Vincent(dms). It told Mike after the set hold much I thought he had improved in the last year. He said that meant a lot to him. He had seen me in the audience for a couple of years and knew I was a listener. It pleased me to hear that it meant something to him. I gave John a hug and left.

20130615-110919.jpg
John Douglas in light shirt standing to the left, Mike Malis on keys, Ib Jones on bass, Butter Hawkins on drums and David Greene sitting on the stage at right.

I am glad to go back after an incident two weeks ago which made it so difficult to go back to Bert’s. I had to force myself and I’m glad I did.