Some Friday Night Music

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.

Bert’s Jazz Room on Friday Night


On Friday, August 9, 2013, I decided to go it for some music. There were three different places that had the possibility of good music. They were Cliff Bells, Motor City Wine. and Bert’s. I could even go to more than one. But, I had a tiring work day and was dealing with customer problems all day. And I was scheduled to do the same thing again on Saturday. I knew from experience that I could go to the midnight set at Bert’s and be able to rest enough to feel good at work on Saturday.

Bert’s is probably the bar that I go to that most resembles a dive bar. The walls are dark blue and makes the room seem smaller than it is. It has a very high ceiling and if the color were light it would seem like an Industrial box. There are both tables and bar seats and I prefer the tables. I got a table in the front and there were friends at the next table. The quality of service goes up and down depending on who is working. The place has a high turnover. Tonight the service was great. The Friday night music program goes from 9:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and has three sets.

It has been great to have the John Douglas Quartet back after a hiatus. This week it was John Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis(keys), Ibrihim Jones( bass) and Alex White ( drums). All the members of the band are really good musicians in their own right. John started the set with “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise” which is one of my favorites and sends me into instant relaxation. This night the solos tended to on the long side. That is just one of the variables. David Greene(tpt) jumped in on this number. He can be an excellent addition and can play the really high notes as he did in his first solo.

I really appreciate John’s solos. He takes the melody, twists it and changes it and brings it back again which is traditional and also what I like. It is about complementing the song and not about showing me how many things you can do as a musician. John is at the age where he is able to edit his solos.


Mike Malis on keys went sliding into some boogie woodie tonight on one of the solos. Ike is a young player and is improving so fast it is hard to keep up with him. I loke the addtiom of a little boogie beat. Mike is already editing himself more than many players of his age and experience. He really added to the mix on Friday.


Ibrihim Jones is one of the best bass players around. He can go from upright to electric in a minute. Being able to change allows him to add his music to the song in the way that most compliments the song. His solos are for the most part short and sweet and say a lot. He is at the point where he edits his solos so well.

Alex White is one of the younger drummers. I can hear him improving as well. He is not a drummer that can only use sticks. I have seen him use brushes and mallets. I do find his solos long. It is my own prejudice since at a certain point in a drum solo, I get nothing out if it. Alex is learning.


On the last song of the 100 minute set, they did “Africa” which is a composition of John Douglas. I had been thinking about this one in the car and was planning on requesting it if I had a chance. James O’Donnell (tpt) joined in on this one. David Greene played a short and good solo with out focusing on the high notes.


John and David played from the sidelines to comp the solos of the other musicians. The se ended on a high note for me. I went on one of the very few good bye tours of my life and told all the musicians what I liked about how they played this evening. There was so much to like.

Friday Night at Motor City Wine and Berts


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.



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.