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”.

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.

The Mike Jellick Trio Conflated with a little Funhouse

MJT set ip at NNL

<The Mike Jellick Trio is conflated since it is covering two weeks. Every Wednesday night, unless there are substitutions, the Mike Jellick Trio plays for the evening, They play alone for the first set and have other musicians substitute or join in on other sets. I feely admit that I like the first set and much more often than not give the other sets a miss. I admire that the members of the trio do a lot towards mentoring many young musicians. The music is usually so good for me that I go home after the first set even though I may start the evening with other intentions. It may be also that I have something to eat at Northern Lights Lounge so I am also somewhat relaxed after the first set with a little food and a glass of club soda garnished with a slice of lime on the table.

The weeks I am talking about were November 20, 2013 and December 4, 2013. The trio had the same musicians with Mike Jellick on keys, Jesse Kramer on drums and Miles Brown on Bass. The two evenings had a completely different feel or maybe I did. Something I will never know. The factual difference is that on the first evening, Mike Jellick announced all the songs and on the second, one was announced. I did arrive after the set started on both evenings so all I can say absolutely is the only song I heard Mike announce on the second evening was “Swinging at the Haven”. The first week had Autumn Leaves, “Swinging at the Haven”, “Caravan” and “Benny’s Tune” and more.The difference may have been the crowd. The first week, the crowd was loud, attentive and appreciative. The second night was much quieter.DSCN0085/p> Left to right: Mike Jellick on keys, Miles Brown on bass and Jesse Kramer on drums.

I found that I really like hearing “Autumn Leaves”, “Caravan”, and “Swinging at the Haven”. Although some songs get tired and some are done too much, when I hear a group that can make these songs sound so fresh and new it is exciting and that is precisely what the Mike Jellick Trio does to the music. Of the three, my favorite is “Caravan” (not played the second week) and I have heard the song so many times it has its own groove in my brain. When the trio plays the song my groove has to rearrange itself to accommodate the fresh perspective offered. And it is exciting and makes me excited by music all over again. So, the key to why I like the group as I have said before in different words, the innovation I hear at this venue is beyond compare.

MJT

After the Mike Jellick Trio on December 4, 2013, I headed to Motor City wine for The Funhouse since I had the energy and had not been there in a while. The server at the bar remembered that I like the San Pelligrino blood Orange soda and got me a glass as soon as she was free. I walked in on the last song of the set. I refer to this as my impeccable timing.

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Left to right: Kris Kurzawa on guitar, Skeeto Valdez on Drums, James Simonson on bass and Philip Whitfield on keys.

I was sitting by myself when the servers from Northern Lights Lounge came in and we sat together. Skeeto had wished me a happy birthday and the refrain was repeated several times to my embarrassment. Of well, once a year is not all that tough. The Funhouse is another unique style of funky, happy jazz that is a real pick me up for me. This is a place where I can settle into a groove and go with it. It is another place where the musicians have played enough with each other that it is a group rather that a battle of egos. The music is tight and cohesive and is always solid entertainment. I left toward the end if the set since I had an early morning appointment. It is always hard to leave when you want more.

Mike Jellick Trio at Motor City Wine after Big Fun

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After Big Fun at Cliff Bells, I went over to Motor City Wine to see the Mike Jellick Trio since I had not even lasted for one set at Cliff Bells. I had a little argument with myself over it since I have been so very, very tired and not sleeping well. I thought I could stay for one set and just maybe I would satisfy my wish for some live music and get home early enough to get some good sleep.

When I walked in, the band was on break. I got my blood orange soda and settled in at a table to wait for the music. When the band return and started to play, my body finally relaxed to hear the music I like so much.

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Wednesday Night at Northern Lights Lounge

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Last night, I finally got out for some music. I went to see the Michael Jellick Trio at Northern Lights Lounge. I hadn’t been for a couple of weeks and even though I was really tired from work and a sleepless night the prior night, I decided I needed some music to relax and get away from some problems I carry home from work with me.

As I walked in, I could hear Miles Brown on the bass and Jesse Kramer on the drums. As I walked to a table and sat down,I could hear the complex rhythms of the two instruments combined and I had a different perspective for the moment. These are the moments I live for when listening to music.

I ordered some beef nachos for dinner and leaned back to listen. This time I recorded most of the evening. I have realized that I am such an intense listener and get so lost in the music that I have a hard time recalling just what was played. Or, if I really pay attention to what is played, I don’t feel the music. Tonight, I wanted to feel the music.

The first complete song I heard was “Yes or No” (Wayne Shorter on Juju album). First, I was hearing Michael Jellick play the melody on the keys clearly and beautifully. Then, once the melody in firmly in mind going into the improvisations that I like so much. Going further and further out and still within the song’s framework. By recording, I was much more able to appreciate Miles Brown’s solo on the bass. Then, a melody phrase to hook back into the music and more improv leading to Jesse Kramer’s great solo on drums. And , back into the melody and more improv to the end. Part of what I like about the experience is how cohesive and well these musicians play together.

I felt like the next number was not new to me and could not place it. This one had some funk to it and the rhythms were so different than the previous number. Something about this one for me made me feel good. Since the break came after this one, I left while I was feeling so good.

Mike Jellick Trio and Dinner

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I usually work on Wednesday and my work was not the best on Wednesday. I had an appointment at 6:00 p.m. She called about 6:15 and said what she had would only take a few minutes and she could be there in five minutes. It took 15 minutes. She arrived with a disordered pile of papers. As she talked about what she wanted, I knew it would 2 hours if she could find the paperwork. I did one minor task and set an appointment for Friday. She took my personal pen because she “sneezed” on it.

So, when I decided to go out for some music and dinner, I was peeved. I got to Northern Lights Lounge well after the first set started. The music was good and this time I looked at the menu. I remember hearing someone say that the chicken strips were really good. So I ordered chicken strips and onion rings.

I closed my eyes, relaxed in my chair and listened. It was pretty much what I liked and expected. The trio was Mike Jellick(keys), Jesse Kramer(dms) and Miles Brown(bass). Mike mentioned that they were trying some new stuff. And there was some experimentation using sounds other than keys on the keyboard. I thought I heard something that sounded like a little funk which was also new.

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My dinner came just as the set ended with “Benny’s Tune”. When my meal was placed in front of me, I noticed the paper was not able to absorb the grease.

20130912-150926.jpg I took my extra napkins and tried to remove as much grease as I could from the chicken strips. I soaked three napkins. The server assured me the onion rings were real onions but had been frozen. The result is that it can reduce an onion ring to a combination of onion mush and a hint of the original ring. Who had recommended the chicken strips? I finally remembered that the person who said they were so good was a guy in the place that had been drinking quite a bit. His eyes were either on the chicken strips or his date’s cleavage. That evening he complimented his date on her dress and the server on the chicken strips.

I stayed for the first number of the second set as my stomach was slowly twisting in protest. The first song was written by Miles Brown and called “Blues for AJ”. I really liked the number and just was not able to enjoy as much as I usually would.

Going home was my best option. Today I feel much better and am back to eating veggies, fruit and the food that makes me feel good.

Adventurous Jazz

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Last night, August 22, 2013, I finally got out for some music. I went to Motor City Wine to see the Michael Jellick Trio. This one is a gig rather than a jam so it is much more unified event without trying to integrate many musicians.

It was a small crowd which is ambiguous situation for me. It means much less ambient noise. I worry the bar owner will cancel. Last night, it allowed the musicians to experiment a little. I had planned to go to Cliff Bells after one set but the quality of the music kept me for the second set.

The sound here is such that it is a good listening event. They did “One Day My Prince Will Come”. The way this group does it has made it one of my favorites. When I hear the first few notes, I begin to smile. Each time, the intro is different and it is a new song each time. After the number, I was thinking how much I liked it when a friend sitting with me commented on how beautiful it was.

This trio has an amazing calming effect on me. It makes for great sleeping when I get home. Michael Jellick plays with so much complexity that my brain gets tired. Last night, the musicians were on an experimental playground. Michael was changing the volume inside some of the numbers. Michael also did a lot of tempo changes last night. The other kept up with all the changes making for a great sound.

The drummer, Jesse Kramer, kept up with all of it. During one number he used his brushes three ways for three different sounds matching Michael’s play with volume. Last night he used some sticks that had another different sound. After the evening was over, I talked to him and found out it was many little bamboo skewers taped together. Most young drummers do their solos as long and loud. Jesse shows a subtlety and comprehension not usually seen in young drummers.

Eric Nachtrab is relatively new to this trio and is a good fit. His solos are not too long. I am slowly seeing his musical character revealed . Most important though is that he completes the group unified sound.

So, my brain was worn out when I left for home and I was happy,

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A small clip from early in the evening….