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 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

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.

Finally, Marcus Elliot Quartet at Cliff Bells

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Left to right: Michael Malis, Marcus Elliot! and Ben Rolston (Stephen Boegehold, not pictured)

Last Tuesday night, I finally got down to cliff Bells to see the Marcus Elliot quartet with Marcus Elliot actually playing. The last time I went there, Marcus Elliot was not there. I got a good parking spot after a little search. I felt comfortable since I was walking by the place where cops have dinner breaks and I has seen a cop car parked nearby. The smokers were hanging outside the door shivering.

The quartet was Marcus Elliot ( sax) , Michael Malis (piano), Ben Rolston ( bass) and Stephen Boegehold (drums). The service was good and I got my club soda and lime quickly. I sat right up in the front where there would be no distractions since I was not planning on staying for more than one set. As usual, none of the songs were introduced so I just was able to take in the music and not have any expectations about what I was hearing. This Is usually good since I know that asking some musicians to play a request can be problematic. If they want to play the song, all is good. But, if it isn’t their thing that night, it sometimes goes poorly. So, I like to hear what they want to play even if it does not particularly fit my mood. If I can get into the music, it doesn’t matter.

So what I can say is that the group plays cohesively. I have heard Marcus Elliot for several years now and he is constantly improving. What is especially like about the way he plays the sax is the tone. It is more like voice than an instrument. He plays with a certain character that is definitely his voice. It is so great when I can hear the voice of the musician in the music. The group is a tight group and I hear them acting as a group and not a competing set of egos. The group blends the music so when there is a solo it is part of a natural progression. The solos in this group seem to be meaningful and not so long that you forget there is a group present. All in all it was an enjoyable set.

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, 11/7/13….The Meal

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When I first noticed the three course for thirty dollars, I had wanted to try it. When I checked out the prices, it was a good deal. So last Thursday night when we went in to see Tumbao Bravo ( another post), I finally ordered the meal. All the choices were also on the regular menu.

I started with the spinach salad. I had eaten it before and it was not spectacular. It was different from the usual house salad. The spinach was baby spinach. In addition, there was a half a hard-boiled egg, some red onion, some roasted red peppers and mushrooms. The dressing was light and the salad was not heavily dressed. As it comes to the table, the spinach is in the middle and the other ingredients are in each corner. And it is a mixing project at the table.

For the entrée, I ordered the baked salmon. I cook salmon often at home and I have developed a couple of sauces and ways to cook it that I really like. There was a little alarm voice going off in my head saying don’t do it. I asked the server if it was wild caught or farmed. She said farmed. The little alarm got louder. It said baked with seasonal vegetables. And a louder alarm sounded. I was so hungry for salmon, I ordered it anyway. It was over cooked and bland for my taste. I can say the glaze which was a good addition. I think it was ginger, soy sauce and honey or some other sweetener. The seasonal vegetables were Brussels sprouts and chick peas in some sort of other seasoning. As I ate the veggies, I got a definite crunch in my mouth. It was bacon. In fact, there were several noticeable pieces of bacon in the seasonable veggies. The pic below is really much worse than the food. I turned off the flash and the camera compensated by adding a red filter. The restaurant asks that patrons do not use the flash while the musicians are performing.I did as much as I could with my limited editing capabilities.

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The dessert saved the meal. They called it an apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream, in a phyllo pastry cup on a bed of caramel. The apple in the phyllo cup was diced and cooked in apple pie seasonings and warm. It was topped with the cinnamon ice cream. I managed to scrape a little caramel off the plate with each sweet, tangy bite. It was a wonderful ending especially with the great coffee they serve.

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Tumbao bravo was performing that evening and they are different from what I usually see. That is for another post.

Brizola and a Little Music

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I went to Brizola last night to see Charles Greene play some jazz. The restaurant is located in the Greektown Casino in the Greektown area of Detroit. I have never been to the casino on a Saturday night. I do use the casino parking structure when I go to Greektown. It was full up to the eleventh level. Usually when I go, I walk through the casino to get to the street and on week nights, it is not very crowded. As I walked from the garage to the casino through the enclosed bridge, I saw a young man wearing a kilt

20131103-090425.jpgSome women behind me were outraged to see a man wearing a dress in public as they put it. A minute later, going the other way, a young man and his date passed us in Halloween costumes and he was wearing a dress as well.

Brizola is an upscale restaurant tucked away from the gaming. The floor was crowded and all the machines had players. Stepping in to Brizola was like stepping into a different planet. The bar is a circular bar which is secluded from the dining floor by a fence. I sat at the bar and asked for the menu which I had checked out online. The menu was presented on an iPad with pictures of each dish appearing when you tapped the item. I ordered the waygu tenderloin tartare appetizer. I love steak tartare and see it on a menu infrequently. I have not had it for about seven years and could hardly wait. I sat and looked around the bar.

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Charles Greene came off break and started to play. It was just what I needed . The music was relaxing and not stimulating. It is perfect for the casino atmosphere. The noise and chaos of the casino floor is all stimulation. They served me some bread while I was waiting. I had a choice of butter, balsamic vinegar or olive oil for dipping. The bread was warm and I a warm napkin. I was told they use homemade butter.

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The tartare took a while and I did eat some very good bread. When the tartare finally came, I was so excited that I did not take a picture. So, all I can do is describe the plate. The tartare was centered on a teardrop shaped plate. To the right, it had four small semicircles of toast. To the left were large shavings or Parmesan Reggiano and some homemade butter. The bartender asked if I wanted salt and pepper. I tasted the tartare. It was seasoned perfectly. I could taste the wine, salt and pepper. I think I caught a hint of possibly anchovy paste. It was not served with a raw egg which was fine with me. I took a piece of toast, added a slice of the Parmesan and topped it with the tartare. I was in food heaven. I wanted to wolf it down and fought with myself to eat it slowly to make it last. The music was relaxing me and slowed me down. Charles does fit in perfectly with the place and his music quieted my mind so when I got home I got a great night of sleep.