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.

Tumbao Bravo at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe…11/7/13

DDJC Tumbao Bravo

This was a long time coming. I decided to use a “real” camera and getting the pic from there to here the first time was a “learning experience”. And there were also some other major distractions.

The first time I saw Tumbao Bravo was at the Michigan Jazz Fest in about 2005. That is a great place to sample things and they got jumbled with the many other groups I heard that day. I do remember that when I hear the words Latin jazz, they were not what I expected. The Dirty Dog jazz experience is set up so that what you get is one set with something to eat. For me, it is hard to combine the two.

For this evening, the group was Alberto Nacif on congas, Paul Vornhagen on sax, flute and piccolo, Javier Barrios as a multi percussionist, Brian Debasio in piano, John Barron on the upright bass and Paul Finkbeiner on trumpet. Bob Mojica also stepped in on a couple of trumpet numbers.

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Left to right: Javier Barrios, Alberto Nacif, John Barron, Paul Finkbeiner and Paul Vorhagen

Overall the music had a definite Afro- Cuban beat. As I said, it is hard to eat and thoroughly listen to the music. So, a lot of this is impression rather than intent listening. I am missing the intense listening and have some planned for this evening. The impression I had was, for the most part, a happy , energetic music that just made me feel good. I felt good to the point where although an additional venue beckoned, I decided not to go. My favorite numbers of the evening were “El Chico” and”Los Moros”. They made me sit up and really listen. I liked the complex rhythms and melodious songs where the melody twists like a vine through the beats of the rhythm leading my mind to a quieter place.

The Funhouse at Motor City Wine

Each Wednesday, Motor City Wine hosts the Funhouse in downtown Detroit. I sometime want to hear their particular modern, funky jazz. They recently won the Detroit MUsic Award for the best Modern Jazz Group in 2013.

Motor City Wine is a small wine boutique in downtown Detroit. It is one of those places with parking at a premium since it is is on Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s Main Street. I have found a place to park that has been working for about a year so parking is not an issue for me. I parked my car and walked around the corner and to the door about fifty feet away. In winter, since smoking is not allowed in bars, I usually have to walk through a group of smokers huddled by the ashtray. But, it is spring and the tables have been set out for the season so getting to the door is easier. After opening the door, I climbed the steep stairs lead to a room painted in a dark red glossy paint. The wall color is broken by the many displays of wine against the walls. The proprietor is already opening my blood orange soda and pouring it in a glass. And the band is already playing. It feels good.

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The Funhouse was put together by Skeeto Valdez and plays modern, funky jazz. The group won the best Modern Jazz Award for 2013 from the Detroit Music awards. The group changes from time to time. I hate to see someone go but, when someone new arrives the music undergoes a subtle change. Each time the change is unpredictable. This time, the funk got amped. The group for the last few months has been Skeeto Valdez (dms), Kris Kurzawa ( gtr), Phil Whitfield (keys) and Takahashi Io(bass).
Skeeto is she driving force of the group.

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Kris Kurzawa, guitar, is one of t he best jazz guitars in Detroit. The group performs many Kris’ compositions.

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Both Philip Whitfield and Takahashi Io are relatively new and both have a heavy dose of funk.

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Last night was one of those nights I just went with the flow. The music moved me and I sank into it with abandon and felt at ease with the world. It was just what I needed.

The Marcus (Not) Elliot Quartet at Cliff Bells

I went to Cliff Bells in Detroit tonight, May 28, 2013 to hear some jazz and have dinner. It was billed as the Marcus Elliot Quartet, but I knew that Marcus was on tour.

Tonight the quartet was Michael Malis (keys), Stephen Boeghold (drums), and Jeff Pedraz(bass). They were joined by Vincent Chandler on trombone. The scheduled bass player was Ben Ralston. He had a car accident on the way to the gig and totaled his car and was not hurt. they called Jeff and he filled in for the first set. Because of the delay, everything was an hour late.

I walked in towards the end of the first set and not the beginning of the second set. I have to admit here that trombone is not my favorite jazz instrument. I will also say that Vincent Chandler is one of the best. The best song they did while I was there was “Caravan.” They did a good job but I am still not sold on trombone in jazz as the only horn in a group. And this is only my uninformed opinion. i will say overall given the scare the musicians had, this was a good evening. My attitude is probably is best expressed in an old joke:

What’s the difference between a frog crossing the street and a jazz trombone player crossing the street?
The frog may be on his way to a gig.

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And the dinner…..

I wasn’t very hungry and ordered the House Charcuterie Board. I haven’t eaten there for long time and was not impressed. I heard they were better. The plates had been stacked in the refrigerator. I am sure they were covered. But, the olives had a crease in them. The grapes were squashed and definitely not juicy. The various meats were congealed and plastered to the plate. I got less hungry. I asked for the top plate. It was marginally better although since the meats were cold, they were still plastered to the plate.

Sometimes it is a partial miss.