Some Friday Night Music

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I started the evening at Motor City Wine where trio Nomadian was playing. They are usually a good show. When I got there, there were so many people in the place that there was no place to sit. Since I arrived at the end of a set, I hoped that some of the crowd would clear out so I could both hear the music and sit down. While waiting, I chatted with a few people I know and some oven brought me my drink.

20140105-152332.jpgLeft to Right: Demetrius Nabors (keys), Kris Johnson(tpt), Damon Warmack(elec. bass) and Nate Winn (drums).

The first sone of the second set was “Mind the Gap” composed by Damon Warmack. It is one of the songs I like and I was happy. But then, some women joined the birthday party going in full swing going on in the center of the room. While half the table was talking loudly so they could be heard, others were checking their phones to make sure they were not missing anything. My view of the music area was blocked by two guys standing in front of me. They did step aside long enough so I could take a picture. As you may have guessed, the place was not conducive to listening to music so I left after one song.

It was cold and the parking lot was cleared. There were still areas where the snow was not clear so getting to the back of the lot without getting snowy feet was a challenge. I took I the drive to Bert’s where James Carter was having his 45th birthday party. The parking lot showed it was a large party. Once again, I walked in as the last notes of the first set were sounded.

It was the John Douglas Quartet amplified. James Carter is a well known national and international saxophone player. He lives in New York but spends a great deal of time in Detroit which is where he grew up. I have seen him frequently late at night when he Ian’s walks in to jam at Bert’s. Last Friday at Bert’s, their were so many musicians in the place that night all wanting to play. And play they did. I stayed from midnight to 3:15a.m. and left in the middle of the last song. There was even a birthday cake.

20140105-155427.jpgLeft to Right: John Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis(keys) and T Pablo Lowman(percussion).

John Douglas did a great job of organizing and making sure things ran smoothly. They did “God Bless the Child”, “Giant Steps”, “Georgia on My Mind” and Moanin'”.

20140105-161242.jpgSax Player: James Carter

The birthday guest stepped in on almost all the numbers. Between sets he did an impromptu duet with Michele Ramos ( adapted guitar) which was really nice. James Carter is such an exceptional player that it is hard to listen to the other players so it took some time for me to relax and listen to the gestalt of the piece. It added depth and a complexity to the pieces.

When the second set started, the base group was John Douglas(tpt), Ibrihim Jones(bass), T Pablo Lowman(percussion), Gsylynn McKinney(drums), Mike Malis(keys), Reichlan Small(guitar) Joan Belgrave(vox)and James Carter(sax). As y end. you can see the everyone was doing their best to make this a party to remember.

I can say I got up to leave several times and the music drew me back until almost the end. There were many other musicians who got up to play and I have listed them in tags. They all added to the fantastic night of music that I am so glad I didn’t miss.

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.

Comfy Jazz

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Last Friday evening, July 12, 2013, I went to Bert’s to hear the John Douglas Quartet. I had thought about going other places before heading to Bert’s. I get something special at Bert’s though and decided that was really all I wanted for this particular evening. The pic above is older. The last set is actually played from 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Some times when I have stayed to the end, I have walked out of Bert’s to see the stalls being set up for the three block farmers market called Eastern Market right across the street which opens at 5:30a.m.

The reason I really like the John Douglas Quartet is probably the leadership of John Douglas. I like the numbers he chooses to play. I like the way he lets other musicians shine in their own right. When I walk into Berts, I am immediately relaxed and ready to listen. On Friday, there was another major cleaning up a car crash on the Lodge freeway. Seeing ambulances rushing to help the injured, passing cars that are only remnants of what they used to be and delaying with the traffic backup unnerved me. And I walked into Bert’s and felt at ease.

They were already playing. I sat down and was immediately sinking into the music where I stayed until the set was over. The quartet this evening was John Douglas (tpt, Mike Malis (keys), Ibrihim Jones (bass) and Butter Hawkins (drums). Each of the musicians has a unique voice. They were joined on some numbers by Davis Greene((tpt) and Dmani Phillips (sax).

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In this pic you can see John Douglas on the trumpet and Mike Malis on keys.

All the solos had something to say. Mike had some really interesting chord progressions. Ib had some unusual riffs during his solo that I had not heard before. The music wiped out any tension I had and relaxed me to the core. Each number ( that I know) starts predictably with the melody line. This allows me to create the overall frame of the tune. Then as the number progresses, each musician starts with the melody or rhythm and move somewhere with it and back again weaving a lovely musical tapestry.

I went home feeling very good.

A Long And Varied Day

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What a day…

I started with a checkup at the doctors office. I have tendinitis in my shoulder that has been hanging of for 8 months without getting better. So, I’m off to see an orthopedic surgeon. I also got a shot of Cortizone and hopefully it will make it feel a little better in the meantime.

I had time to do a little studying before heading off for work. Each year my job requires that I take a few classes. I’m also studying for a certification that is much harder to get but will be really a good certification to have.

And finally off to work Which did not go well today. Summer is problem-solving time. And each year the problem changes. I’m seeing stuff I haven’t seen before. I can say it doesn’t get boring. At least, all the clients left happy so my mental status did not have much to do with how the client felt about the service.

Tonight I really felt like I wanted to go out for music and I did. I went down to Northern lights Lounge even though I knew Mike Jellick would not be playing there this evening. His replacement is Michael Malis is really good and I enjoy hearing him play.

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Left to right: Mike Malis(keys), Miles Brown(bass) and Stephan Boeghold (dms)

I enjoyed the music. But, I was tired and only stayed for one set. I had even planned to go somewhere else after Northern Lights but decided home was a better choice since I was so tired.

My shoulder was really bothering me when I started typing this and is improving fast. Cortizone actually may give me a break.

More music tomorrow when my schedule is lighter.

Other Music This Week

I went out several times and only have mentioned one so far. Now, time to mention the others. It may seem strange how often I go out. For me, live music of the kind I like brings me to a transcendent place and it is a place I like. I feel like it is my authentic self rather than the self that is proscribed by all the the conventions that are a part of getting along in the world. Since I don’t drink alcohol, it is a “high” that can go on for hours and even days.

Last Monday, I went to the Monday night at the Harbor House featuring the Milt Show. The base group is Milton Hale(dms), Phil Hale(keys) and Greg Cook(bass). This week, Chris Branch(sax) joined in for the first set. I was sitting with a couple of girlfriends. They are both listeners and do not do a lot of talking while the music is playing. It was a good evening of music. During the evening there were two sax players…..Chris Branch and Scott Reiter. Both of them are good musicians. And there were four trumpets…..Dwight Adams, Alan Denard, Mark Croft and David Greene. Dwight Adams plays with Stevie Wonder. He is one of my favorite trumpets. His notes are brain piercing clear. When he plays the trumpet, that is all there is. I am completely drawn into the music. These are all experienced musicians and play so well together.

During the second set, Misty Love sang. My table friends left and another girlfriend joined me. It was a good evening.

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Dwight Adams on trumpet, Milt Hale on drums and Phil Hale on keys…

Last night is was Bert’s Jazz Room again and the John Douglas Quartet. The quartet this week was John Douglas(tpt), Mike Malis(keys), Ib Jones(bass) and Butter Hawkins(dms). I was there for the second set. When they did “Lazy Bird”, everyone in the place started cheering. Mike Malis was so hot that when another musician touched him you could almost see the steam rising from his body. There were other musicians as well : David Greene (tpt), Dan Rice(trbn), Mark Croft(tpt) and Roger Vincent(dms). It told Mike after the set hold much I thought he had improved in the last year. He said that meant a lot to him. He had seen me in the audience for a couple of years and knew I was a listener. It pleased me to hear that it meant something to him. I gave John a hug and left.

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John Douglas in light shirt standing to the left, Mike Malis on keys, Ib Jones on bass, Butter Hawkins on drums and David Greene sitting on the stage at right.

I am glad to go back after an incident two weeks ago which made it so difficult to go back to Bert’s. I had to force myself and I’m glad I did.