The Damon Warmack Quartet at Motor City Wine and a little Bert’s

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Left to right: Marcus Elliot, Damon Warmack and Alex White

On December 13, 2013 also Friday the Thirteenth, I went to Motor City Wine for some music. The drive to Motor City Wine in the Corktown section of Detroit is usually an easy ride. This time though, some of street lights were out on the freeway which made part of the drive a bit spooky. The freeway was not crowded so it wasn’t bad enough to cause me to white knuckle the trip.

The place was full, warm and inviting when I arrived. I stopped by the bar and got my San Pelligrino Blood Orange drink. I joined a table and sat done to listen. The keys were played by three different keyboard players: John Dixon, Ian Finkelstein and Charles Greene. Each one brought a different flavor to the mix.

20131216-120655.jpgIan Finkelstein on keys

The first song I really listened to was “Bedtime Story” and they did a nice job on that one. Although I had seen all these musicians before, this was the first time I had seen them play together. I always find new configurations interesting. A lot of times it boosts the performance of all. I first saw Ian Finkelstein when he was still in high school and he has just graduated from college. Each time I hear him I can hear his development. Damon generally performs standards, his own compositions and pop all with his own jazz imprint. This was an enjoyable, fresh look at “Bedtime Story”.

20131216-123411.jpgCharles Greene on keys

Charles Greene and the group played “Oh, Christmas Tree”. Since this is the time of year we all heard a lot of Christmas songs, I just sort of grin and bear it. This’s is one of my favorites. I found myself singing along to the music and my mood lifting. I am one of those people that can find the season somewhat depressing. This year it has been better and I’m at ease with the season for the first time in years. Going out has been more fun this year. Anyway, this song lifted my mood and I felt good. It was a good reminder of the season.

20131216-124505.jpgJohn Dixon on keys

The group did “I Can’t Help It” with John Dixon on keys. Stevie Wonder just keeps on giving and this is one. It was a good rendition and I can say that this group of musicians is all about the music. This was an easy evening of music. It was a good evening since I got to hear some music I hadn’t heard for a while and it was good.

But, I wasn’t finished and decided to go over to Bert’s for the John Douglas Quartet. As I walked in the door, I remembered I had a dental appointment Saturday morning. There is nothing like remembering a dental appointment to creep into the mind and render it preoccupied. It was supposed too snow all night and so I knew the roads would be tough traveling the next morning.

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So although I went, I listened a bit and left so I could get up early for the dentist. Maybe next week

Bert’s Jazz Room on Friday Night

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.