Stardust at the Milton Show


Last Monday night, I went to Harbor House to see the Milton Show. It was an unusual night so once I spent most of the night socializing with a group in a booth. This was not my normal pattern. So, for this evening, the music was background music. Well, not really. We did listen to the music but is just was not until they played “Stardust” that I listened intensely.

I probably was drawn to listening since this one was not on the usual playlist. I didn’t take pictures that evening. The first picture below is the normal group off Greg Cook, Milton Hale and Phillip Hale taken on a different evening.


James O’Donnell played the memorable solos on “Stardust” and his picture taken at Bert’s Jazz Room in below.


Everyone did a great job on the number and made it truly memorable.

The Milton Show on Monday Night


On Monday night I went out to The Milton Show at the Harbor House. I went late so it was easy parking and headed into the place and heard the music had already started. It was the house band with Milton Hale on drums, Phillip Hale on keys, Chris Branch on sax and Greg Cook on bass.

20130924-222657.jpgLeft to Right: Greg Cook, Chris Branch, Milton Hale( behind Chris) and Phil Hale. As I walked in, I saw the tables in the front were taken and then saw Mecca (sax) sitting at a booth and she waves so I went over to sit with her. She had her sax out and was ready to join the music when the spirit moved her. Just then, John Douglas walked in and Mecca got more serious about playing. John began to warm up his trumpet.

20130924-225253.jpgAt the time, the band was playing “Little Sunflower” which is a Freddie Hubbard tune. It was a good number since both trumpet players, John Douglas and James O’Donnell, played solos on this one. The sax players, Mecca and Chris Branch also played some solos. I got to lean back in my booth and enjoy the music. Usually the sound where I sit is too loud. sitting back a little softened the sound. The first set is usually all instrumental with a lots of musicians taking long solos. Songs can last over a half an hour.

During the break I wandered around land talked to people. I talked to Scott Reiter(sax) and he introduced me to a vocalist named Nicky Pierce(I think). This was a more social evening than usual probably since I was talking with Mecca in a booth.

After the break, they played “So What”. Since I had heard this one just last week, I was doing a mental comparison in my mind. Last Friday was really extraordinary so this version was just a little more laid back. One of the reasons I like jazz is hearing how many different ways one song can be played. For me, it stays fresh that way. Everyone played and there were quite a few solos. I also like to hear how each musician interprets what a “good” solo is for a song. For me a “good” solo is one where I am not waiting for it to end. During the second set there were several vocalists. I’m not even sure what song Tosha Owens sang but she really had a good stage presence and managed to not get pushed into the background like some of the other vocalists. I enjoyed hearing her. The other vocalist is like was Nicky. she sang “Caravan”, a song I really like. I am partial to an instrumental version. She did it well and for once I didn’t mind the song with lyrics.

It was a nice evening and I left feeling happy and relaxed.

Harbor House on Monday with the Milton Show


Left to Right: Oliver Nevels, Greg Cook, Milton Hale, Chris Branch and Phil Hale.

On August 26, 2013, I went down to the Harbor House to see the Milton Show. It was supposed to start at 10:30 p.m. and go until 2:00 a.m.. I got there at 11:35 p.m. and the music had not started. The owner of the Harbor House was searching for the musicians and quite upset. There was a much larger crowd than usual since the crowd was a combination of the after the Tiger Baseball game crowd and the music crowd. The staff was larger than usual and the service was good despite the numbers. I hadn’t been there for a while so there were lots of hugs.

There were so many very good musicians that the house band did not play alone for the first set. The original house band for the evening was Milton Hale(drums), Phil Hale(keys), Greg Cook(bass), Chris Branch(sax) and Oliver Nevels(guitar). The set was all instrumental even though there were a few vocalists in the house. Some of the vocalists showed up around 1:30 a.m.. I left at about 1:45 a.m. which was before the second set started so I have no idea how many vocalists sang.

With the large number of excellent musicians, the actual numbers have to be ones that all the musicians know or can at least fake fairly well like “Moanin'”. The group of musicians there all play well with others so the solos were short and sweet. What I like best about this kind of night is how the musicians comp each other. I was sitting towards the back but I could still hear when Dwight Adams started playing his trumpet. His sound reaches straight into my brain and lets the music flow through me.

20130827-104126.jpg In the picture above you can see John Douglas and Sabrina comp the other musicians. This makes such a full and rich sound totally unlike the normal trio or quartet. It is a different experience. Sometime you see musicians experiment with something a little different as well.

20130827-104817.jpg in the picture above Reichlan Small who usually play guitar is trying out jazz violin.

On this one I can’t go into much detail about the individual playing. I can say that this is the kind of music I feel and it opens my heart and brings joy to my world.

I left feeling emotionally satisfied knowing that staying longer would not improve my well being event though the crowd was large and there was a promise of more music to come.


Jazz on Monday Night at the Harbor House


Monday, July 29, 2013, jazz at the Harbor House started with the usual house band which is Milton Hale(drums), Phil Hale (keys), Greg Cook(bass) and Chris Branch(tenor sax). I got there later than usual and the band was already playing. The nice part of getting there when the band is playing is that I can get settled and comfortable a before chatting with anyone. I’m an introvert is a social setting which means social interaction can be difficult. I have been around enough so that people do talk to me. The idea of introducing myself to someone new is torture and so I just don’t.

I sat where the sound is good. Each venue is go to has a different sound pattern which varies depending on who is playing. For the most part, the Harbor House is too loud. Part of the sound issue is that I don’t drink alcohol. Alcohol deadens the senses including hearing so I may be the only one who is bothered by the loudness. With the Harbor House, the solution is not found by going to the back since the sound is distorted there. Sitting in the middle means you cannot see the band. This time I sat a little back which for me is the best compromise place.


This picture above from left to right shows Chris Branch, Glen Oliver on bass, Milton Hale on drums and Phil Hale on keys. Glen Oliver filled in on both keys and bass that night. Quite a few musicians showed up to play and it made for different configurations. Mark Croft(tpt), Alan Denard (tpt), Allan Barnes(sax), Sabrina(sax), Misty Love(vox), Sky Covington(vox), and Denise Dotson(vox) all were a part of the jam.

I talked to Chris Branch a bit about my dulcimer during the break. He thought I played the mountain dulcimer so I showed him a pic of the hammered dulcimer which is really a harp on a board. The strings are played with hammers.

The best song of the evening for me was Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum(Wayne Shorter). All the musicians played a bit on this one. This is the first time I can recall the song being done here and I really enjoyed it. The musicians really worked well together on this one.

Then, Milton called up Misty Love to sing “What a Difference a Day Makes” and she did a great job as usual.

Sky Covington (left) with Allan Barnes on sax did “Love for Sale”. Scott Reiter (sax) also accompanied Sky. The mike was a bit muffled but otherwise it was a good version of the song.

Lastly, Denise Dotson sang which is the last song of the evening.

The band closed as usual and I went home.

The Milton Show at Harbor House


On July 15, 2013, I went to Harbor House to catch The Milton Show. The Harbor House is a restaurant and bar. The restaurant is basically a seafood restaurant and I am allergic to shellfish so I seldom get anything to eat.

They feature live music almost every night. The musicians are in the front as you enter the bar which is a fifty foot long oak bar. In the front, the music is loud. This night the bartender was one of the worst bartenders in town. She is a slight woman with stringy dishwater blond hair. She is more interested in listening to gossip and spreading it to anyone who will listen than to actually serving drinks. She believes everything she hears. The owner is so cheap that the fans were not turned on until the musicians were drenched in sweat on this very hot evening.

I arrived before the music started and sat at a table with some people I knew. We waited for service and none came. We went to the bar and I got my club soda and lime after waiting for the bartender to finish her long conversation. The first set was, for the most part, Milton Hale (dms), Phillip Hale(keys), Chris Branch(sax) and Greg Cook(bass). David Green(tpt) also played during part of the first set. He is what people call a high note specialist.


The crowd included some musicians and quite a few vocalists. Chelly K, an R&B vocalist, sang “Angel Eyes” and “Love for Sale” and really delivered. Most of the first set was instrumental only and was the kind of music I like. It is edgy straight ahead soul jazz. It was way too warm in the place and they took a break. The fans were turned on.

The crowd grew….more vocalists and musicians. In an open mic and jam environment, many musicians choose to show up about a half and hour before the jam starts. I have wondered why they don’t come early to listen (and maybe learn) from other musicians. A few of the “jam” musicians do not play well with others. At this point, I was sitting alone and was able to listen to the music.

I looked around the room before the second set and saw so many musicians and vocalists with only an hour to play and wondered how the second set would go. It started well with Audrey Northington singing “Bye, bye Blackbird”. She is really great a scat and showed us how it’s done.

Chelly K singing with the group

Audrey Northington singing

Next up was Sheila Hale, Phillip Hale’s wife, who sang “Wine and Roses”. Scott Reiter, on sax, joined her and I always enjoy hearing him play. At this point, Alan Denard who is a young trumpet player with a lot of talent played a solo. Also, Frank McCullers, another trumpet player added a bit.

Milton Hale, who was running the show was doing a good job and giving everyone a chance to play on at least one number. Frank McCullers thought he should be able to play on all the numbers. He was high and not playing well. Milton was alternating instrumental and vocalist numbers and doing a good job of making sure everyone got some of the music they like. Ken Ferry, another excellent trumpet player added to the mix.

Misty Love sang “Masquerade” with Jerome Clark on guitar. I hadn’t heard Jerome for recently and like the way he is playing now. At this point, Frank McCullers was hopping up on the stage to play on every number even when Milton waved him away. Frank hopped on the stage. The music stopped while Frank did his solo without anyone comping. Finally off the stage, Milton went to talk to him. Frank was running around the bar telling everyone, including other musicians how he deserved to play more than anyone. Milton followed in Frank’s wake apologizing. He wanted to speak to Frank outside. Frank aired his grievances everywhere and would not go outside to speak to Milton. Finally, after several people spoke to Frank, he was shut down.

I moved to the back of the bar. The band reformed and Angela sang a song. It was about 2:30 a.m.and I left the bar.

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.

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.

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.

The Milton Show at Harbor House


On Monday, June 5, 2013, I went to the Harbor House in downtown Detroit for a bit of jazz. The Harbor House is really a restaurant specializing in seafood as you may have guessed by the name. I am allergic to crustaceans so the menu does not off me much. I have tried a couple of things and had the worst Reuben sandwich of my life and the best onion rings of my life. I have to feel really adventurous to order and tonight I was just not feeling it. I stood at the bar for a very long time waiting for the lone server to finish her conversation. I went late since the band starts at a different time each week. She finally came down and I ordered a club soda and lime. Others were having the same difficulty is getting her attention. I saw that she paid better attention when she was her own customer.

This evenings entertainment has been going on for a little over eight years in Detroit. For most of the time, it was located in a loft in Greektown. They recently moved due to renovations in their old building. They start the first set with a house band. The house band this week was Milton Hale(dms), Phillip Hale (keys), and Greg Cook(bass). I like the stuff the group plays, usually a wide range of jazz standards. After the first set, it is open mic time. Open mic can either raise level or lower level depending on who shows up. That night it was better than average. I think of the second and third set as belonging to the vocalists and there were three there: Chelly K, Sheila Hale and Kenny. Charlene Greene sat in on the keys and was a great addition to the mix. For the ending Chelly sang “Love for Sale” and it was the best song of the evening.
For the instrumentals, both Moanin’ and “Sugar” were great.

As usual, some of the denizens of the bar were running around telling all they knew about anybody to each other.