Stardust at the Milton Show

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Last Monday night, I went to Harbor House to see the Milton Show. It was an unusual night so once I spent most of the night socializing with a group in a booth. This was not my normal pattern. So, for this evening, the music was background music. Well, not really. We did listen to the music but is just was not until they played “Stardust” that I listened intensely.

I probably was drawn to listening since this one was not on the usual playlist. I didn’t take pictures that evening. The first picture below is the normal group off Greg Cook, Milton Hale and Phillip Hale taken on a different evening.

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James O’Donnell played the memorable solos on “Stardust” and his picture taken at Bert’s Jazz Room in below.

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Everyone did a great job on the number and made it truly memorable.

The Milton Show on Monday Night

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On Monday night I went out to The Milton Show at the Harbor House. I went late so it was easy parking and headed into the place and heard the music had already started. It was the house band with Milton Hale on drums, Phillip Hale on keys, Chris Branch on sax and Greg Cook on bass.

20130924-222657.jpgLeft to Right: Greg Cook, Chris Branch, Milton Hale( behind Chris) and Phil Hale. As I walked in, I saw the tables in the front were taken and then saw Mecca (sax) sitting at a booth and she waves so I went over to sit with her. She had her sax out and was ready to join the music when the spirit moved her. Just then, John Douglas walked in and Mecca got more serious about playing. John began to warm up his trumpet.

20130924-225253.jpgAt the time, the band was playing “Little Sunflower” which is a Freddie Hubbard tune. It was a good number since both trumpet players, John Douglas and James O’Donnell, played solos on this one. The sax players, Mecca and Chris Branch also played some solos. I got to lean back in my booth and enjoy the music. Usually the sound where I sit is too loud. sitting back a little softened the sound. The first set is usually all instrumental with a lots of musicians taking long solos. Songs can last over a half an hour.

During the break I wandered around land talked to people. I talked to Scott Reiter(sax) and he introduced me to a vocalist named Nicky Pierce(I think). This was a more social evening than usual probably since I was talking with Mecca in a booth.

After the break, they played “So What”. Since I had heard this one just last week, I was doing a mental comparison in my mind. Last Friday was really extraordinary so this version was just a little more laid back. One of the reasons I like jazz is hearing how many different ways one song can be played. For me, it stays fresh that way. Everyone played and there were quite a few solos. I also like to hear how each musician interprets what a “good” solo is for a song. For me a “good” solo is one where I am not waiting for it to end. During the second set there were several vocalists. I’m not even sure what song Tosha Owens sang but she really had a good stage presence and managed to not get pushed into the background like some of the other vocalists. I enjoyed hearing her. The other vocalist is like was Nicky. she sang “Caravan”, a song I really like. I am partial to an instrumental version. She did it well and for once I didn’t mind the song with lyrics.

It was a nice evening and I left feeling happy and relaxed.

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.

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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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.

The Milton Show at Harbor House

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On July 15, 2013, I went to Harbor House to catch The Milton Show. The Harbor House is a restaurant and bar. The restaurant is basically a seafood restaurant and I am allergic to shellfish so I seldom get anything to eat.

They feature live music almost every night. The musicians are in the front as you enter the bar which is a fifty foot long oak bar. In the front, the music is loud. This night the bartender was one of the worst bartenders in town. She is a slight woman with stringy dishwater blond hair. She is more interested in listening to gossip and spreading it to anyone who will listen than to actually serving drinks. She believes everything she hears. The owner is so cheap that the fans were not turned on until the musicians were drenched in sweat on this very hot evening.

I arrived before the music started and sat at a table with some people I knew. We waited for service and none came. We went to the bar and I got my club soda and lime after waiting for the bartender to finish her long conversation. The first set was, for the most part, Milton Hale (dms), Phillip Hale(keys), Chris Branch(sax) and Greg Cook(bass). David Green(tpt) also played during part of the first set. He is what people call a high note specialist.

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The crowd included some musicians and quite a few vocalists. Chelly K, an R&B vocalist, sang “Angel Eyes” and “Love for Sale” and really delivered. Most of the first set was instrumental only and was the kind of music I like. It is edgy straight ahead soul jazz. It was way too warm in the place and they took a break. The fans were turned on.

The crowd grew….more vocalists and musicians. In an open mic and jam environment, many musicians choose to show up about a half and hour before the jam starts. I have wondered why they don’t come early to listen (and maybe learn) from other musicians. A few of the “jam” musicians do not play well with others. At this point, I was sitting alone and was able to listen to the music.

I looked around the room before the second set and saw so many musicians and vocalists with only an hour to play and wondered how the second set would go. It started well with Audrey Northington singing “Bye, bye Blackbird”. She is really great a scat and showed us how it’s done.

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Chelly K singing with the group

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Audrey Northington singing

Next up was Sheila Hale, Phillip Hale’s wife, who sang “Wine and Roses”. Scott Reiter, on sax, joined her and I always enjoy hearing him play. At this point, Alan Denard who is a young trumpet player with a lot of talent played a solo. Also, Frank McCullers, another trumpet player added a bit.

Milton Hale, who was running the show was doing a good job and giving everyone a chance to play on at least one number. Frank McCullers thought he should be able to play on all the numbers. He was high and not playing well. Milton was alternating instrumental and vocalist numbers and doing a good job of making sure everyone got some of the music they like. Ken Ferry, another excellent trumpet player added to the mix.

Misty Love sang “Masquerade” with Jerome Clark on guitar. I hadn’t heard Jerome for recently and like the way he is playing now. At this point, Frank McCullers was hopping up on the stage to play on every number even when Milton waved him away. Frank hopped on the stage. The music stopped while Frank did his solo without anyone comping. Finally off the stage, Milton went to talk to him. Frank was running around the bar telling everyone, including other musicians how he deserved to play more than anyone. Milton followed in Frank’s wake apologizing. He wanted to speak to Frank outside. Frank aired his grievances everywhere and would not go outside to speak to Milton. Finally, after several people spoke to Frank, he was shut down.

I moved to the back of the bar. The band reformed and Angela sang a song. It was about 2:30 a.m.and I left the bar.