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.

Spencer Barefield Quartet at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe

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Last night on June 5, 2014 I went out to see the Spencer Barefield Quartet at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe. This is a place where the food is also something to remember.

I got there in plenty of time and was seated at a table where it was easy to see and hear the musicians. There is a little note on each table reminding patrons not to talk during music. It did not deter the ladies next to me. However, they were talking quietly and were not really a disturbance. They had the special of three courses for $ 30 and I found that it was too much for me to eat the last time I went so I order a starter and an entree of things I had not ordered before. Taking pictures of the food is so difficult since the lighting during the music is red and it colors the food. So I will describe it as well as I can.

The starter I ordered was fried onions. They came after they served me some different kinds of bread with an herbed butter. The bowl of fried onions was large enough to serve as a starter for two or three. They were very thinly sliced sweet onions which had been dipped in a batter and fried to a crisp. They were served with a curry garlic aioli and with a spicy ketchup. They were great dipped in either sauce. I ate about half and the waitress asked if I wanted them to start the entree. I did.
I had ordered what they call the Fork and Knife Burger. It was once ground beef on a garlic toast with cooked spinach, mushrooms, a fried egg, a thin slice of foie gras topped with béarnaise sauce. It was large and more it was served with French fries. I was stunned by the size of the meal. It was wonderful. All the flavors went so well together. It was cooked medium rare just as I wanted.. Next time I ll order this alone. It is enough. I took home portions of the fried potatoes, fried onions and half of the burger.

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Left to Right: Djallo Djakte (percussion), Dave Young (bassist), Spencer Barefield (guitar) and Dwight Adams(trumpet).

Although I was eating and a split attention can make it harder to listen, they did a great job of having a balanced set that went with the atmosphere. I had not heard either Spencer Barefield or Dave young before. I can only say I enjoyed the set a lot. What I liked was that each of the musicians had a place to shine during the set and all of them did. None of musicians dominated and it was one of those times when you here people playing together and making each other sound better.

The two numbers I liked the most were “Nigerian Marketplace” and “A Night in Tunisia”. On “Nigerian Marketplace”, Dave Young took the lead since he had played this with Oscar Peterson. I liked it and came home to see other versions on YouTube. I am relatively new to jazz and sometimes when a song is in my head, I like to hear more of it. And this was one of those nights. The good thing about “A Night in Tunisia” for me is that it is familiar. When they play a familiar song, I like to see what they can do with it. And I enjoyed their version.

It is so good to hear a set of mature musicians who know what they are doing and do it so well.

Sunday Evening at the Cadieux Cafe

20140513-203615.jpgLeft to right: Dwight Adams, Damon Warmack, Gordon, Sasha Kashperko

Last Sunday was one of the first evenings this years that didn’t require a jacket. The trip to the East side of Detroit is about 45 minutes and with my new car, I didn’t have to worry about the for a change. I arrived a little after the quartet was supposed to start playing. And they were not playing.

The group was put together by Damon Warmack and I knew he would have a good group of musicians. But, this was Mothers Day and many spend time with family for the day. Or, musicians play as background music in various restaurants where people take their mothers for brunch or dinner. I spotted Damon immediately. He was waiting for Dwight Adams( trumpet) who is one of my favorite musicians.

I talked to Damon for a few minutes and went to a table to sit down and order the “hot wings”. I was looking forward to the meal. Just thinking about it made my mouth water. I ordered and anticipated. The waitress was new and when she deliver the wings, she delivered them with only one napkin. The wings are completely covered with a spicy, hot barbecue sauce. Eating them with a knife and fork does not work. Each wing is picked up and dipped in the blue cheese dipping sauce. The dipping sauce cuts the spicy sauce just a bit. I like to wipe my hands after each wing. And after finish with a hand wipe before washing my hands in the bathroom. They are really messy.

This time though they were different. I think they made the change the last time I was here. I didn’t like it then and the wings were disappointing. The barbecue and dipping sauce were the same. They changed the wings. The wings were fatty. They had globules of fat in each wing so the texture was off. Eating unmelted chicken fat is not a taste I want I my mouth. I did get the extra napkins and hand wipe. I do not think I will order them again.

On the other hand, the music selections were really pleasing. The group did all Miles Davis tunes. With Dwight Adams playing trumpet, the interpretation of Miles could not have been better. They started with “So What”. Coincidentally, I have been playing Miles in my car and it was fun hearing another version. Damon carried his weight as usual and added some great runs on the bass guitar with that number. Sasha is relatively new on the scene and is a very good player. However, I think the volume of his guitar is too loud as compared to the other instruments. Sometimes you can’t hear the other players. He’ll learn. The drummer, Gordon, is also new on the scene. He has a lot more maturity than many young drummer which means he is not all about how loud he can play. I really was enjoying the music.

As the set went on though I began to have indigestion. Wing attack. I left after the first set so I could go home and take care of myself.

Some Friday Night Music

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I started the evening at Motor City Wine where trio Nomadian was playing. They are usually a good show. When I got there, there were so many people in the place that there was no place to sit. Since I arrived at the end of a set, I hoped that some of the crowd would clear out so I could both hear the music and sit down. While waiting, I chatted with a few people I know and some oven brought me my drink.

20140105-152332.jpgLeft to Right: Demetrius Nabors (keys), Kris Johnson(tpt), Damon Warmack(elec. bass) and Nate Winn (drums).

The first sone of the second set was “Mind the Gap” composed by Damon Warmack. It is one of the songs I like and I was happy. But then, some women joined the birthday party going in full swing going on in the center of the room. While half the table was talking loudly so they could be heard, others were checking their phones to make sure they were not missing anything. My view of the music area was blocked by two guys standing in front of me. They did step aside long enough so I could take a picture. As you may have guessed, the place was not conducive to listening to music so I left after one song.

It was cold and the parking lot was cleared. There were still areas where the snow was not clear so getting to the back of the lot without getting snowy feet was a challenge. I took I the drive to Bert’s where James Carter was having his 45th birthday party. The parking lot showed it was a large party. Once again, I walked in as the last notes of the first set were sounded.

It was the John Douglas Quartet amplified. James Carter is a well known national and international saxophone player. He lives in New York but spends a great deal of time in Detroit which is where he grew up. I have seen him frequently late at night when he Ian’s walks in to jam at Bert’s. Last Friday at Bert’s, their were so many musicians in the place that night all wanting to play. And play they did. I stayed from midnight to 3:15a.m. and left in the middle of the last song. There was even a birthday cake.

20140105-155427.jpgLeft to Right: John Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis(keys) and T Pablo Lowman(percussion).

John Douglas did a great job of organizing and making sure things ran smoothly. They did “God Bless the Child”, “Giant Steps”, “Georgia on My Mind” and Moanin'”.

20140105-161242.jpgSax Player: James Carter

The birthday guest stepped in on almost all the numbers. Between sets he did an impromptu duet with Michele Ramos ( adapted guitar) which was really nice. James Carter is such an exceptional player that it is hard to listen to the other players so it took some time for me to relax and listen to the gestalt of the piece. It added depth and a complexity to the pieces.

When the second set started, the base group was John Douglas(tpt), Ibrihim Jones(bass), T Pablo Lowman(percussion), Gsylynn McKinney(drums), Mike Malis(keys), Reichlan Small(guitar) Joan Belgrave(vox)and James Carter(sax). As y end. you can see the everyone was doing their best to make this a party to remember.

I can say I got up to leave several times and the music drew me back until almost the end. There were many other musicians who got up to play and I have listed them in tags. They all added to the fantastic night of music that I am so glad I didn’t miss.

Dirty Dog Jazz with the Dwight Adams Quartet

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As you may notice, this post is quite a while after the event which took place October 17, 2013. I got some feedback that was a little upsetting and it stopped me cold. It took a bit of time to process. I also didn’t go out much. The other part of the hiatus was the feeling that I was in a rut. And I was hearing the same numbers that I liked at the same places. I am in the place rut but I have heard quite a few different numbers when I have gone out recently.

When I heard the Dwight Adams was playing at the Dirty dog, I really wanted to go. At the Dirty Dog, the people really listen so that part of being there is great and they listen very quietly and still. I am one of those who move my body to the music when I feel it. Dwight is a favorite because I feel his music easily. The best place for me in this kind of environment is in a corner so I can move to the music. So when I got there I took the available corner.

Dwight was playing with musicians I had never heard him play with before. Mark Lipson was on drums. Tony Viola was playing guitar and Gary Shunk was playing the piano. Also, Bruce Caterer(sp) was on bass. Also Angie Smith did “Take a Chance on Love” and “My Funny Valentine”. They played a number called “Hibernian Nights” composed by Mark Lipson and Tony Viola added vocals to a samba.
Left to Right: Tony Viola, Dwight Adams, Bruce Caterer, and just a peek at Gary Shunk

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The music I heard during the set was different than most of the things I heard Dwight play. It may have been that he was taking the audience into consideration. So I got to hear a new side of Dwight Adams with musicians that I had not herd him play with before that evening. As usual with Dwight, his playing is great. The clarity of his notes and how he hits notes without slur or hesitation is a listeners delight. He decorates his notes with ornaments which adds such depth and feeling to his music that I can hear him through the music and I love it. All the musicians got to play solos that exhibited their strengths. All in all the set was satisfying but not in the way I had anticipated.

Friday at Bert’s Motown Room

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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.

Trio Nomadian and John Douglas Quartet

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Friday September 6, 2013 was a work day for me. I work. The work I do keeps my mind active and since I am meeting the public, I am always “on”. I had a long debate with myself when I got home about whether to go out for some music on Friday night. I had spent so many hours listening to so many great musicians the weekend before that I wasn’t sure my brain could hold any more. Work does tend to put my mind in a busy place and music tends to help me quiet my busy mind. So I was in my busy mind place and decided to go out and quiet my mind.

I hadn’t seen the Trio Nomadian for well over a year and thought Motor City Wine would be a good place to go. They call themselves serious jazz fusion which has many stylistic origins and has long improvisations. The group(pictured above) is from left to right Demetrius Nabors, Damon Warmack and Nate Winn. Seeing a group after a hiatus is one of the best ways to hear internal changes to the music. I had been away so long that I really couldn’t remember how they were before last Friday. They did their own compositions this evening. Demetrius’ composition was ” Full of Peace” and Damon’s was “By the By”.

This was the first time I had heard Demetrius’ composition. At first, I didn’t hear why he had named it like he did. Eventually, it did have peaceful elements. After the break, they played Damon’s composition. Two other musicians, Timothy Gay(sax) and Chris Johnson(tpt), joined in.

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Since the additional musicians were not familiar with the song, Damon said it followed basically a C Minor blues structure. The way they played it,it had it all. It was both melodic and dissonant. It was both soft and loud. There were tempo changes from slow to fast. I could feel my body vibrating to the music. I left after the song. I was on a short leash since I was also working on Saturday.

I went over Bert’s Motown Room to hear the John Douglas Quartet, my comfy jazz. I ordered my club soda and lime and got possibly one of the nastiest surprises I had had I a long time. The soda was absolutely flat and it had been flat the prior Sunday. It was disgusting. I’m tempted to bring my own.

On the other hand, they were playing “Softly, As the Morning Sunrise” when I walked into the place. The quartet on stage was John Douglas(tpt), Sébastien Levanneur(bass, from Paris, France), Alex White(dms) and Michael Malis(keys). Once I got over the drink, I sank right into the music.

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The music sounds much better in this room. Perhaps, another bonus is that it became a jazz room. People stopping by to be social and have dinner were in the other room. So the room was quiet while they were playing. It got even better when Dwight Adams, trumpet, joined.

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The notes from Dwight’s trumpet are so clear, either high or low notes. I remember once a couple of years ago walking up behind a stage at the jazz festival and hearing a trumpet. I mentioned to my granddaughter that I hoped she would hear Dwight Adams before she left town since I thought he played as well as the trumpet we were hearing. We got to the stage and it was Dwight Adams. A couple of other musicians joined the group. They were Steve Hunter on trombone and Brad Stern on alto sax. I left at the break so I would get enough sleep for work the next morning.

Getting into the Detroit Jazz Festival 2013

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Transcending statue in honor of Labor, Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI

The 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival was in full swing Saturday, August 31, 2013. The festival is held on Labor Day weekend and this is the 34 th year of the festival. It was a partly cloudy day and it was supposed to get to about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The excitement began as I drove downtown. During the festival, I have to take a different route since they close some streets for the festival. I remembered how to dodge all the closures and got to the parking garage easily.

I had been sent the wristbands to get to the ” reserved” seats in the mail. This is my vacation. Although the entire festival is free, I pay to get access to folding chair seats at three stages, a catered meal, free bottled water, and free parking. It is so much easier not having to fight crowds.

As I walked out of the garage, I decided to make my first stop the Tribute to Teddy Harris, Jr. Who was a noted sax player and bandleader from Detroit. As I sat waiting, I saw James Carter(sax), Ralphe Armstrong (bass), David Greene(tpt), John Douglas (tpt), Dwight Adams(tpt), Rayse Biggs(tpt), and Robert Lowe(gtr). At first, the piano did not have a working microphone and it was quickly fixed. All the musicians has a solo at one time or another. My favorite trumpet, Dwight Adams, had several and got me into the spirit of the festival. The moderator did not name any of the songs. This is a pet peeve of mine in the music scene in Detroit. Especially at the DJF since we have visitors from so many countries.

20130901-104645.jpgI walked down Woodward, the main street in Detroit, to get my parking validated and a schedule. I also got a bag of stuff that I will look at later. While waiting in line at VIP, I listened to Bill Charlap and Renee Rosales at the main stage. I had not planned on this particular act. This is an event where I can listen to musicians I have never herd before and possible expand my mind and musical interests. So, I stopped at the top of the arena.

20130901-113434.jpg The two Steinway concert grands faced each other for the duo. One of the songs they played was “Off Minor” by Thelonious Monk. The music was more heady than emotional. Or, my brain was fully engaged with interest and the emotional impact was not the primary interest. After a few numbers, I left to get the catered lunch. I could see the crowd had grown. Some people set up an area and stay here all day.

I went for the food rather early since there have been times when the selection is meager. They seem to have it set up this year so that some people will not treat is as an all you can eat event. The lunch was a buffet lunch with hot rolls, tossed salad, grape tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese in a basalmic vinegar dressing, a pasta dish, Parmesan chicken with tomato sauce, baked salmon in sauce, oven baked potato spears, a fruit plate and cookies. I did my picking and choosing and got a large plate of food. The baked salmon was so very good, moist and rich. While I was eating I could listen to the main stage.

After eating, I took one of the chairs to set up and look a the main stage from the back. The sound was great and I didn’t have to battle any crowds. I could just relax and enjoy. It was the Mack Avenue Super Band which was a band comprised of a group of musicians on the Mack Avenue jazz label. Although it is a local label, I had not heard some of the musicians. The band members were Carl Allen(dms), Aaron Diehl(piano), Kirk Whalum(sax), Warren Wolf(vibes), Sean Jones(tpt) and Evan Perri(gtr). There were more but, these were the ones I heard. As you may have guessed, there is so much to see that sometimes, I will leave after a while and sample another act. They played “Soul Sister” composed by Warren Wolf. They also played a “Speak to my Heart”. I have to say that hearing Warren Wolf play the vibes may have changed my opinion about vibes. He was outstanding. I have also always liked Aaron Diehl and he did not disappoint. He has such engaging chord progressions and plays with an emotional intensity that I get caught up in his music completely.

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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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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.

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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.

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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.