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.

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.

PD9 Township Jazz Project at Motor City Wine

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Last Sunday night, December 15, 2013, I went to Motor City Wine to see the PD9 Township Jazz Project and have dinner in a pop-up restaurant featuring the food of Chef Jesse Knott. I has heard the music before and really liked the program. The menu looked great and I especially wanted the seared lamb chop and maybe the Jameson barley mushroom soup. The pop-up restaurant started at 5p.m. And the music started at 7p.m. I decided to get there about 6:30p.m. to take advantage of both.

All I had to do was look outside to know that even though it was a Sunday evening I would need a lot more time to get to to Motor City Wine than usual. I got there about 7p.m. and there were no parking spots left in the in the parking lot or on the same side of the street. I drove through again and saw a spot where I could park and slid my car into a small space and went in the back door. The place was absolutely jammed. There was no place to sit. I talked to the owner David A-P and he said the chef was in the weeds from the beginning. So, the menu was wildly popular and they were out of food. So, no dinner. I found later that they were waiting over a hour for food. The bar was out of my favorite drink so I had the San Pelligrino grapefruit drink.

The second wave of customer were for the music. I knew the music would be the kind I like and I knew some people would leave after they finished their dinner. So, I listened and kept my eye out for people leaving. With the snow deep and the temperature frigid, it is sometime hard to decide if people are leaving or going for a smoke since smoking is not allowed inside in public places. I finally got a seat at a table with a lady and her husband. And it was a short wait. I could finally just sit down and enjoy.

I have been listening to South African jazz and pop for over thirty years. A lot of the music is joyful and just make me happy when I listen to it. I really like the complex rhythms that usually are a part of the music. And some of this music makes me want to dance and at home I dance around the house to some of the music they would be playing this evening.

One of the numbers they did was an Abdullah Ibrahim( formerly Dollar Brand) called “Cape Town Fringe”. I like the melody on this number and it could go through my mind for hours very happily and I have enjoyed it for years. This evening, the band brought it back to mind and did a great job with the arrangement. Musically, tonight the number was more complex than my usual version but it was possibly more enjoyable since it was live and kept the ‘feeling’ of the original.

They did a few Brotherhood of Breath songs. As I listen again to Brotherhood of Breath, it has a sound of jazz that is “more jazzy than Abdullah Ibrahim but still retains the South African feel of memorable melody and complex rhythms. I’m not sure if they played “Country Cooking”. I forgot to take notes since the music was so good. What I can say is ” Country Cooking” is a favorite of mine and I think it was played.

One of the songs was a number commemorating Steve Biko. I remember hearing of his death and the song brought back the memories of that era. The song was haunting as are my thoughts about his death. The band did bring it back around to a more cheerful ending to the program.

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.

Mike Jellick Trio at Motor City Wine after Big Fun

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After Big Fun at Cliff Bells, I went over to Motor City Wine to see the Mike Jellick Trio since I had not even lasted for one set at Cliff Bells. I had a little argument with myself over it since I have been so very, very tired and not sleeping well. I thought I could stay for one set and just maybe I would satisfy my wish for some live music and get home early enough to get some good sleep.

When I walked in, the band was on break. I got my blood orange soda and settled in at a table to wait for the music. When the band return and started to play, my body finally relaxed to hear the music I like so much.

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Trio Nomadian and John Douglas Quartet

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Friday September 6, 2013 was a work day for me. I work. The work I do keeps my mind active and since I am meeting the public, I am always “on”. I had a long debate with myself when I got home about whether to go out for some music on Friday night. I had spent so many hours listening to so many great musicians the weekend before that I wasn’t sure my brain could hold any more. Work does tend to put my mind in a busy place and music tends to help me quiet my busy mind. So I was in my busy mind place and decided to go out and quiet my mind.

I hadn’t seen the Trio Nomadian for well over a year and thought Motor City Wine would be a good place to go. They call themselves serious jazz fusion which has many stylistic origins and has long improvisations. The group(pictured above) is from left to right Demetrius Nabors, Damon Warmack and Nate Winn. Seeing a group after a hiatus is one of the best ways to hear internal changes to the music. I had been away so long that I really couldn’t remember how they were before last Friday. They did their own compositions this evening. Demetrius’ composition was ” Full of Peace” and Damon’s was “By the By”.

This was the first time I had heard Demetrius’ composition. At first, I didn’t hear why he had named it like he did. Eventually, it did have peaceful elements. After the break, they played Damon’s composition. Two other musicians, Timothy Gay(sax) and Chris Johnson(tpt), joined in.

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Since the additional musicians were not familiar with the song, Damon said it followed basically a C Minor blues structure. The way they played it,it had it all. It was both melodic and dissonant. It was both soft and loud. There were tempo changes from slow to fast. I could feel my body vibrating to the music. I left after the song. I was on a short leash since I was also working on Saturday.

I went over Bert’s Motown Room to hear the John Douglas Quartet, my comfy jazz. I ordered my club soda and lime and got possibly one of the nastiest surprises I had had I a long time. The soda was absolutely flat and it had been flat the prior Sunday. It was disgusting. I’m tempted to bring my own.

On the other hand, they were playing “Softly, As the Morning Sunrise” when I walked into the place. The quartet on stage was John Douglas(tpt), Sébastien Levanneur(bass, from Paris, France), Alex White(dms) and Michael Malis(keys). Once I got over the drink, I sank right into the music.

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The music sounds much better in this room. Perhaps, another bonus is that it became a jazz room. People stopping by to be social and have dinner were in the other room. So the room was quiet while they were playing. It got even better when Dwight Adams, trumpet, joined.

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The notes from Dwight’s trumpet are so clear, either high or low notes. I remember once a couple of years ago walking up behind a stage at the jazz festival and hearing a trumpet. I mentioned to my granddaughter that I hoped she would hear Dwight Adams before she left town since I thought he played as well as the trumpet we were hearing. We got to the stage and it was Dwight Adams. A couple of other musicians joined the group. They were Steve Hunter on trombone and Brad Stern on alto sax. I left at the break so I would get enough sleep for work the next morning.

Adventurous Jazz

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Last night, August 22, 2013, I finally got out for some music. I went to Motor City Wine to see the Michael Jellick Trio. This one is a gig rather than a jam so it is much more unified event without trying to integrate many musicians.

It was a small crowd which is ambiguous situation for me. It means much less ambient noise. I worry the bar owner will cancel. Last night, it allowed the musicians to experiment a little. I had planned to go to Cliff Bells after one set but the quality of the music kept me for the second set.

The sound here is such that it is a good listening event. They did “One Day My Prince Will Come”. The way this group does it has made it one of my favorites. When I hear the first few notes, I begin to smile. Each time, the intro is different and it is a new song each time. After the number, I was thinking how much I liked it when a friend sitting with me commented on how beautiful it was.

This trio has an amazing calming effect on me. It makes for great sleeping when I get home. Michael Jellick plays with so much complexity that my brain gets tired. Last night, the musicians were on an experimental playground. Michael was changing the volume inside some of the numbers. Michael also did a lot of tempo changes last night. The other kept up with all the changes making for a great sound.

The drummer, Jesse Kramer, kept up with all of it. During one number he used his brushes three ways for three different sounds matching Michael’s play with volume. Last night he used some sticks that had another different sound. After the evening was over, I talked to him and found out it was many little bamboo skewers taped together. Most young drummers do their solos as long and loud. Jesse shows a subtlety and comprehension not usually seen in young drummers.

Eric Nachtrab is relatively new to this trio and is a good fit. His solos are not too long. I am slowly seeing his musical character revealed . Most important though is that he completes the group unified sound.

So, my brain was worn out when I left for home and I was happy,

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A small clip from early in the evening….