Detroit Jazz Fest 2014 – Opening Night

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The VIP Opening Night Party started with a strolling dinner and some music. The evening had beautiful weather. The drummer in the picture is Djallo Djakate. When they stopped playing, I was going to ask him who the other players and vocalist were. The other musicians decided I was harassing him, I was blocked from asking. So, I have no idea who the others in the picture are. It was a cocktail party atmosphere so it was for the most part background music.

Each year I buy the VIP tickets. I get some perks like good seats. The Detroit Jazz Fest is the largest “free” festival in the world. However, it costs money to do it. It has lost money for the last two years and part of my money goes to the festival to keep it “free”. And, I get a great weekend of beautiful music.

After the dinner was a concert. The first group was The Bad Plus Joshua Redman.

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Left to Right: Ethan Iverson, Joshua Redman, Reid Anderson and David King.

Their music was a great learning experience for me. I usually do not like slow songs or ballads. The musicianship of this group was over the top and gave me an entirely new understanding of just how incredible a ballad could be. It was like having a deep massage to the brain.

I usually like a band to play some standards. They played their own compositions. They were so, so good that if it is a great composition, it will reach you when you have not heard it before. I was filled with music after they played. The songs were engaging and each musician added to the whole which is just the way a great groupplay.

Paradise Valley Jazz Lunchtime …8/19/2014

IMG_0685.JPGMobile Sculpture by U of Michigan art students, Beatrice Buck Park, Detroit, MI

Yesterday was a warm, partly cloudy day and a beautiful summer day to go to the Paradise Valley Jazz Series at Beatrice Buck Park in downtown Detroit.

IMG_0686.JPGLeft to Right: Rayse Biggs (tpt), Sean Dobbins(drums), Ralphe Armstrong(bass) and Scott Gwinell(keys).

These are some of the musicians in Detroit that are well known jazz all-stars. They played some of the well known jazz standards including “Song for my Father”, “Cherokee”, “Cold Duck Time”, and “Isn’t She Lovely”. Since the composer of “Song for my Father”, Horace Silver died this year, this has been an often played number. He is the theme of the upcoming Detroit Jazz Fest as well. And, I was hearing it from a different mix of musicians. It was really good. Rayse Biggs gave it a different treatment that I has heard before and it added to my enjoyment to hear a fresh approach. On “Cherokee”, Sean Dobbins did a nice drum solo.

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For “Isn’t She Lovely” which was the last number, Marcus Elliot on the far left joined the group. It was a great way to start the afternoon. Each time I see Marcus Elliot, I am more and more impressed.

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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.

Palmer Woods Music in Homes, Detroit, MI,

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On Saturday, June 21, 2014, I went to the finale of the Music in Homes series in Palmer park in Detroit. The event came I with a tour of the first two floors of the home, a catered dinner and on this evening a jazz program.

It was a beautiful evening in a older Detroit neighborhood with winding roads. Rounding each curve offers a new view of an elegant home. Most of the homes are derived from Medieval English architecture. The home for this concert was a Dutch Revival home built in 1928 by architect Robert O. Derrick. It is almost 7,000 square feet.

During the recent recession, the bank foreclosed on the house and it was left standing empty for three years before the new owner bought the house. They are in the midst of restoring the house to some of the original features where possible. We got to see the first and second floors. The house has four beautiful fire places including one with the original Delft tiles surrounding the fire place.

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This is one of the many interesting furnishings around the house.

20140714-133154-48714525.jpgThis was a view across the street from the second floor. The house was still in an unfinished state but it was easy to see the care and attention of the new owners and how dazzling it will be when it is finished. Perhaps Music in Homes will be invited back when the renovation is complete.

The jazz was performed under a large tent and after touring the house and socializing a bit, I went to the tent to get a good seat. The musicians were Kamau Kenyatta(keys), Spencer Barefield(gtr), Marion Hayden(bass) Djallo Djakate(drums) and Shahida Nurullah as the vocalist. We got a printed program with ten different numbers listed. Perfect for two sets. They played the first set and then took a break.

We went back into the house for the catered dinner by Potts Style Catering. We had Jerk Chicken, Jamaican Rice and Beans, Summer Citrus Salad with Peach Cobbler for dessert. The chicken was quite spicy, of course. It was not too spicy for my taste. The rice and beans had a way of bringing the spiciness down a bit. The salad was not as much citrus as the name suggested. And the peach cobbler was really very sweet. This was catered and they did a great job considering how long they had to hold the meal. Since I was at the end of the line, maybe the citrus was just gone by the time I got there.

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There was quite a line for the dinner.

After eating and getting settled, the second set began. Over the two set, the song I liked best were “In Walked Bud” by Thelonious Monk, “Mr. Kenyatta” by Lee Morgan. Shahida sang with such depth and passion that it reminds that there are vocalists whose voice is truly an instrument.

It was a really nice evening and I will go back when they resume in the fall.

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Left to Right:Kamau Kenyatta on keys, Marion Hayden on bass, Shahida Nurullah on vocals and Djallo Djakate on drums Spencer Barefield on guitar(hidden).

Northern Lights Lounge on May 14, 2014

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Last Wednesday night I went to Northern Lights Lounge to see the Mike Jellick Trio. And Mike was in New York replaced by Zion Israel. I was a bit disappointed. So, I decided to make it a little adventure and ordered the “Lava Wings”. I had been disappointed at another restaurant with the hot wing recently and remembered seeing this one on the menu. The best part is that appetizers are half off the price on Wednesday night.

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The wings were hot and tasty. The blue cheese dressing cuts the heat just enough. And the wings were good. They were done without being dried out. My mouth had a flood of heat cooled by the rich taste of chunky blue cheese dip.

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Left to right: Zion Israel, Miles Brown and Jesse Kramer.

About half way through the set, I got over my snit and was able to listen to the music. It was so different than what I had been expecting. I was so good in its own way though. I was fully won over by the last tune of “Caravan”.

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.

Getting Out Again….Motor City Wine

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My last day for working this season was April 15. It took me some time to recover. The last few days are always hectic and mind numbing.

By Thursday, April 19, I was in the mood for some music and headed out to Motor City wine for the Mike Jellick Trio. I new they would be adding a tap dancer for part of the evening. The past experiences I have had mixing a jazz and impromptu tap has not been good. The info I had said she was a professional tap dancer which put her above my previous encounters.

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Right to left: Mike Jellick on keys, Eric Nachtrab on bass and Jesse Kramer on drums.

At first, it was only the trio playing. I had walked in after the set had started. I stopped at the bar and ordered a Blood Orange San Pelligrino. The place had almost every table filled. When I was here last, there were very few people. I really like seeing a group begin to get an audience. They did some familiar numbers and Mike did some great improvisation. Then, they called up Claudia Rahardjanoto, the tap dancer. She was really good.

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In jazz, there are sometimes a change in tempo or a change in time signature. The thing I appreciated most about the tapper was that she did not force her dance through the changes. She was much more able than the usual dancer to navigate the jazz changes. It was such a pleasant surprise.

They closed the set with Rhythm-A-Ning by Thelonious Monk, one of my favorites. And I loved it. I could feel the music. I was sitting right in front of the drum speaker so for much of the set, I heard more of the drum than anything hing else. Somehow though, it all worked out in this number. I played it on the way home.