top of page

A Detroit Original

DSC06111 169

ALVIN WADDLES Pianist, singer, composer and musical director

Wow! What better way to provide exclamation marks around the 4th of July than have Kimmy Horne’s explosive performance and then follow Kimmie with Alvin Waddles. Alvin will swing into the Dirty Dog Jazz Café this week. Alvin in old English means elf friend, making  Alvin’s parents a little prophetic. Alvin does have an elfin twinkle in his eye when he performs. He has enormous talent that he uses with grace. For many Detroiters he is  the friendly face of jazz.

Alvin’s musical career is a Detroit story which means that there is a generous and gifted teacher that showed up at the right time. For Alvin it was Mrs.Gusseye Dickey who took the gifted 8 year old Alvin under her wing. Alvin says that it was Mrs. Dickey that first instilled in him his life-long love of classical music. Alvin has taken his early lessons at Cass Technical High School, the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan School of Music and added  his rich Detroit culture to become a multi talented master musician.

Alvin is in demand as much for his voice as his explosive piano. Alvin has never stopped expanding his horizons. He has brought his unique gifts to many diverse Detroit events and organizations including The Detroit Jazz Festival, The Detroit Opera House, Detroit Music Hall, Ann Arbor and Detroit schools, Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. New Bethel Church, Hope United Methodist Church, the New Millennium Choral, the Fats Waller Revue, numerous theatrical productions and wherever else a vibrant artist was needed.

In 2003 Alvin received the Detroit Musician’s Association award for excellence. He has also been a soloist and featured artist around the world playing gigs in Barbados, Beijing, Paris, Barcelona and Ghana, West Africa.


Fats waller

FATS WALLER A major influence on Alvin and a fellow  piano player and songwriter

Larger than life with his sheer size and magnetic personality, Fats Waller’s style and personality ooze out of Alvin and maybe explains why we feel so good when he performs. Knowing a little about Fats will help us understand Alvin a little better.

Fats Waller was born in 1904 in NYC. He became one of the most beloved entertainers of his time. He had commercial success as a performer around the world but is best remembered for the music he wrote which was so full of his full  life. Fats  was a prolific songwriter who came up with Honeysuckle Rose, Ain’t Misbehavin, Squeeze Me and was attributed with writing I Can’t Give You Anything But Love and On The Sunny Side Of The Street.

Following the death of his mother, he moved in with the family of pianist Russell B.T. Brooks, who introduced the youngster to James P. Johnson, founder of the stride school of jazz piano . Like Alvin, Fats started with church and symphonic music then continued to play  Bach and was dubbed “the black Horowitz”. Alvin gives homage to this musical genius with his Fats Waller Review.


Presented annually at the Detroit Opera House since 2001, Alvin’s production of Too Hot To Handel is a holiday tradition that showcases the very best of Detroit’s jazz, classical, and gospel talent. It is a jazz-gospel version of Handel’s classic “Messiah”. This is the perfect musical celebration for Alvin Waddle’s Detroit, blending jazz and gospel with blues and soul.

Rod Dixon wows at Too Hot to Handel


This week Alvin will bring his fireworks into this intimate jazz club to keep the spirit of the 4th of July alive. Lets continue the celebration.

John Osler

DSC06137 195
DSC06145 203
DSC06164 222
1 view0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page