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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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

Mike Jellick Quintet and The Funhouse

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Last night, Wednesday, August 28, 2013 was a trip into the unexpected. I was in one of my usual ruts and wearing the rut deeper. I went to Northern Lights Lounge to see The Mike Jellick Trio. And last night it was a quintet. There were two additions during the first set. Jesse Palter, a vocalist, was in from Los Angeles. And Marcus Elliot, a saxophonist, was the other addition. I first saw Mike Jellick as the piano player for Jesse Palter at Cliff Bells in Detroit. They were much different than they are now. Both have much more depth and character to their performances now. I also saw Marcus Ellliot for the first time several years ago at Bakers Keyboard Lounge. And he is also much improved. I’ve learned that the very good performance that does not touch me emotionally from a young performer may be just a matter of a little time before they give a brilliant emotionally charged performance.

20130829-172129.jpg I came to see this. (Mike Jellick, Miles Brown and Jesse Kramer)

20130829-172249.jpgAnd got this. In this picture, Jesse Palter is the addition. I got so into the music that I forgot to get a picture of Marcus Elliot who was a big part of the reason the music made me forget about anything else.

Although I sat in the back since it was crowded when I arrived, the sound was good and is something I really like about the place. On the first number, Jesse Palter used her voice as if it were an instrument and was most like a clarinet. Marcus was on the soprano sax during that number. They all worked together as one shifting from one instrument to another seamlessly. During the set as Jesse was singing vocals, it was so refreshing to hear a vocalist enunciate making every word understandable. During the set I got my dinner of beef nachos. They went cold while I listened.

The last song of the set was “Bye, bye Blackbird” and is one I enjoy. She did not make it overly sad or snappy. And I finally got to my cold nachos. It was enough for at least three meals. They are good. The only things that could be improved is if it had fresh salsa and the jalapeño peppers were fresh. All the other veggies are fresh and flavorful.

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The quintet became a quartet losing Marcus Elliot during the second set. The quartet played “Blue Skies”. The pacing and tempo reminded me of a Frank Sinatra version I have heard with a completely different voice. All in all it is a pleasure to hear the musical growth of Mike Jellick, Marcus Elliot and Jesse Palter.

I then headed to Motor City Wine to see Skeeto’s Funhouse.

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And I expected to see Kris Kurzawa, Skeeto Valdez, Takashi Iio and Phil Whitfield. This is what I saw.

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Phil Whitfield, a Canadian, was stopped at the border crossing for an invalid visa which he will take care of by next week. So, Skeeto called in the reserves or four saxes, one trumpet a guitar and different keyboard player. It was a shock. I can’t remember what they were playing as I walked in. Takashi took me aside and explained the situation. They did sound good though. The last number they played was “Isn’t She Lovely”.

All in all it was an evening I didn’t expect. And I’m glad to have that kind of surprise in my life.