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.

Friday at Bert’s Motown Room

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Left to Right: Phil Hale(keys), John Douglas (tpt), Greg Cook(bass), James Carter( flute), Mark Lipson( drums) and Dwight Adams(tpt)

Last night was a magical, musical night that almost didn’t happen for me. I left the house in a torrential rain that just didn’t ease up. The rain was coming down fast and hard. I tried to stay in the center lane since both sides had areas of huge puddles that plumed high in the air when cars did go through them. It was dark and some sections of the freeway did not have working lights. At times on the way to Bert’s in the Eastern Market of Detroit, I thought about turning back. I didn’t turn back and arrived in time for the second set.

The house band for the evening was John Douglas, Phil Hale, Butter Hawkins(drums) and Greg Cook. However, the second set started with Mark Lipson on drums. They started with “Lazy Bird”. It started slowly and this one was not the kicked the energy surge in the room. At the beginning of the second song, the musicians in the room began to open their musical cases. There were saxes and trumpets being put together. I began to hear the quiet sounds of different musicians all around me checking their instruments. and getting them ready to play. The first to play that evening was James Carter. I’m not really sure when he began to play since for this evening I had put away my analytical tendencies and was feeling the music. He started with a piccolo.

20130921-183817.jpg This picture was taken before the picture at the top. James Carter also had a baritone sax with him that evening. It was so wonderful to hear his range from the highest audible notes to the lowest in his unique captivating style.

The music morphed into “So What” without a pause and the synergistic energy of musicians playing so well and pushing each other to play better started to flow through the room. When one musician was on the stage doing a solo, I could hear other musicians playing around me playing softly building the music into an unusual depth. It was no longer a quartet, it was a large ensemble of musicians playing as one. One of the particular things I liked about the evenings was how the solos of Dwight Adams went straight to my brain and just made me wonder how sound could cause such an emotional reaction. And then, another musician would solo and it just kept on for me through John Douglas, Phil Hale, James Carter, Mike Jellick and Larry Smith.

20130921-185639.jpgLarry Smith on alto sax

20130921-185743.jpgDavid Greene on trumpet

20130921-185855.jpgRafael Statin on tenor sax

20130921-190337.jpgMike Jellick on keys, Sébastien Levanneur on bass, Dwight Adams on trumpet and Darryl Pierce on drums

Larry Smith started “Body and Soul” and the music went on. As the place closed a little after 3 a.m. the band played Red Top which is the favorite song of Bert. It was a slight detour into blues but with this group playing, it was a complex and exciting piece of music.

This kind of music eases my mind and puts me in a place where I am happy. I have not smiled so much in quite a while or been so engrossed in the music.

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.

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.

Friday Night at Motor City Wine and Berts

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Last Friday slight, July 26, 2013, I checked out various sites to see who was playing where.
I decided to go first to Motor City Wine since they will be moving this week and I enjoy the group that was playing there.

Mike Jellick (keys), Eric Nachtrab (bass) and Jesse Kramer ( drums) comprised the trio for the evening. They are in the picture above. As I walked from my car which I parked in my secret and always available parking space, I thought this is the last time for walking up the very long steps. They were playing when I arrived. I talked to a musician friend of mine who was playing at a nearby venue and was taking his breaks at Motor City Wine to listen to the trio. I sat down and sank into the the music. The music was flawless at least to my ears. I had arrived with my usual impeccable timing, after a couple of songs they took a break.

I talked to some people I know and had a good time. The band started the second set. They did “Someday My Prince Will Come” and did a great job. The improv that Mike did cause me to smile just thinking about it. After the set, I went to Berts to listen to the John Douglas Quartet.

Finding a parking spot was a bit difficult. There is a musical complex with three venues and all of them were going when I arrived. I did find a spot and when I got to the door, the guy who takes the cover charge of $ 5.00 was not at the door. I went in and sat down to listen to the music. The second set is usually a long set and I got to hear about 80 minutes of music. This is my comfort jazz.

They played “Moanin’ ” and I love the way they played it. These professional musicians push each other to be better when they play together. Since some of the numbers are the same each week, it allows the musicians to play different solos each week. Tonight the quartet was John
Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis (piano), Butter Hawkins (dms) and Ibrihim Jones (bass). All the solos this week were interesting and added a new dimension to the music.

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They also played “Grazing in the Grass”(Hugh Masekela) as the last song in the set. It was the first time I had heard them playing the tune. On this one, Ib Jones really stepped out and did a great job. It is a great tune. At one time, it was overplayed but that was long ago and it was time for a rebirth.

After the set, I sat with someone I know and chatted for a few minutes. John came over and I got a hug. We all chatted for a few more minutes.

I left after the set even though there was one more to go. And I went home happy.

Music Triple Play

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Last Wednesday, July 17, 2013, I went out for music and the music and the energy led me to three different places and basically three different musical vibes.

The first place I went was Northern Lights Lounge which is in the the thriving, energetic midtown area. I go there quite a few Wednesday evenings to see the Mike Jellick Trio. When I first started going, it was a quiet bar. Now, more often than not, it is crowded. The trio has built quite a following. This night it was not the usual trio. It was Mike Jellick (keys), Ben Rolston (bass) and Stephen Boegehold (drums).

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On the food, this time I decided to go with my old favorite of Beef Nachos. I got enough food for two days. It is spicy, cheesy and best of all they use fresh tomatoes, onions and green peppers. It is served with a salsa and sour cream. It was good.

They did play “Caravan” and as usual it was different than anyone done before that I can remember. This is a song that does not tire me especially when Mike Jellick can have a different take on it every time he plays it. I arrived late and was towards the back. The tables between me and the music were filled with some very loud people. If they think this music is back ground music, I disagree. There are a lot of very nice elevators in town if they want background music. This a good straight jazz vibe.

I moved on to Motor City Wine. They will be moving in a couple of weeks and I wanted to go there before they moved and I do like The Funhouse with Skeeto Valdez(drums), Kris Kurzawa (gtr), Takashi Io(bass) and Phil Whitfield (keys).

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I got my blood orange soda which is so intensely good and settled in for a set of music. They started with “Carrot Cake” Which is one of my favorites. This music has a fun, funky vibe. Jazzthat is little more modern. And with the wall of sound, I can feel the vibrations.

A guy sat down to join me. He has joined me before and wants to hang out. This is maybe the fourth time. He can’t remember my name. He is interested and I’m not. I mentioned that MCW was moving. This was his first time in the place. He asked why I hadn’t told him about the place and he does not know my name. Why does he think I somehow should have known that he would be interested? A puzzle.

I went over to Harbor House to see Sky Covington. I hadn’t seen hear for a while.

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My phone was out of juice so no more pics. Again, another vibe. I got there during the jam portion so I got to talk to Sky and didn’t hear her. There is always this week because she be doing the gig for a month. This one was surprisingly more social with a little listening. I was open to the music and was able to relax and enjoy most of what I heard.

It was a good evening.