A PRETTY GOOD DECADE
WHAT THE HECK DO WE DO DO NOW?
In a few days days we will have to remind ourselves to date things using the year 2020. 2020 has a good look to it. It has lots of even numbers and if you can remember the first two numbers you should be OK. I do remember that once my goal was that I would live long enough to see the year 2000. Then my goal was to survive the 2000s. The 2010s were spent recovering from all the missteps of the 2000s. So here we are now. I think the number 2020 is very forward looking and youthful, and I am pleased to be around to find out what we are supposed to do now. Sometimes looking forward is more fun than looking backward, but that is not what we always do. This is good, and it is probably helpful to look back and cherish the good things in our past. We should honor the beautiful flowers that burst out the during times of struggle. Here are some highlights of the last decade.
2010 – 2019
We are saying goodbye to 10 years of trying to figure out what went wrong. We will be ending a decade of looking back at a world that seems to be changing too fast of for some and changing too slowly for others. We spent half the decade changing out of necessity and half the decade either applauding or rejecting those changes. We have had all our conflicts amplified by our new high speed, overly accessible communications. The 2010s have been irritably loud. Fortunately we have had music. Music remains an oasis in a sea of high tech noise. It reminds us that we have had giants in our midst and now have new adventurers rising up to carry the torch.
Jazz musicians are in their own world. They are seldom into messaging. Their strong feelings of how the world can be saved is usually left in the greenroom. How to save the music from the evil forces of sameness overwhelms them on their way to the bandstand. As jazz is all about life experience what is going on around them comes out in their music told in their own fresh voice.
Promises are made between artists that blunders will be forgiven but boring music will not. This is probably why music and art sustain forward motion while those around them go into a static destructive mode. Just look at the top jazz albums of the 2010s.
Mac Randall of the JazzTimes compiled the following list of the decades top jazz albums.He consulted the critics’ Top 10s.
Jason Moran Ten (Blue Note)
Charles Lloyd Quartet Mirror (ECM)
Sonny Rollins Road Shows Vol. 2 (Doxy/EmArcy)
Joe Lovano Us Five Bird Songs (Blue Note)
Vijay Iyer Trio Accelerando (ACT)
Branford Marsalis Quartet Four MFs Playin’ Tunes (Marsalis)
Wayne Shorter Quartet Without a Net (Blue Note)
Cécile McLorin Salvant WomanChild (Mack Avenue)
Sonny Rollins Road Shows Volume 3 (Doxy/OKeh)
Ambrose Akinmusire The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint (Blue Note)
Kamasi Washington The Epic (Brainfeeder)
Maria Schneider Orchestra The Thompson Fields (ArtistShare)
Henry Threadgill Ensemble Double Up Old Locks and Irregular Verbs (Pi)
Jack DeJohnette/Ravi Coltrane/Matthew Garrison In Movement (ECM)
Vijay Iyer Sextet Far from Over (ECM)
Charles Lloyd New Quartet Passin’ Thru (Blue Note)
Wayne Shorter Emanon (Blue Note)
Ambrose Akinmusire Origami Harvest (Blue Note
Branford Marsalis Quartet The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul (OKeh)
Dave Holland/Zakir Hussain/Chris Potter Good Hope (Edition)
This is only one list of many. Sprinkled throughout all the end of year lists will be young, old and really old artists. On all the lists you won’t find any old sounding music. Take a moment and look at the album names. They are not very conventional, That is the thing about jazz, it never stops inventing and exploring.
Saying goodbye to 2019
It was a year of change. For many, things seemed to be getting better, for others it was at best confusing. In Detroit more street lights came back on. Building cranes could be seen where only hope lived a few years before. Ideas have started to be listened to and financing has became more generally available. Detroiters have allowed themselves some time to enjoy the good things that have always been here. New shiny things have been added, and music can be heard coming out of newly occupied buildings.
There is less complaining. There are still real unresolved problems and folks left out. We are getting more appreciation and respect, yet we deserve all the criticism that more needs to be done in the neighborhoods. That was the kind of year it was in Detroit.
Detroit continued to find new energy, and the music in the city picked up on it. In our expanding environment we felt confident to take more risk and also to pause and enjoy life.
There were also transitions as we celebrated the lives of friends that we lost, leaving holes in our hearts to be filled. In the coming year we will welcome in some new voices.
2020 A NEW CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY
Every once in a while we get a chance to start over. We get a fresh start, and January 2020 could be that moment.. We have a less wobbly base to set out from and more tools available to reach our goals, It is a good time not to be sitting on our hands while clinging on to all the things that we already have. I am looking forward to having conversations about the coming year and the positive events as they happen. I hope to talk to and photograph those who will be helping to make Detroit a better place to live.
All in all, it was a pretty good decade at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café
It was a year of change. For many, things were getting better. For others there was the Dirty Dog Jazz Café, a place you can count on, a place where you can get lost in the music, a place where there is always a convergence of great musicians and satisfied customers, a place where smiles and laughter were trending up this past year.
Here are some things that helped to make the decade memorable for me:
The Dirty Dog’s remarkably good natured staff
The stream of young players who have benefited from a chance to try out their chops at the Dirty Dog.
All the times I have watched Detroit jazz fans listen with so much appreciation, knowledge and respect.
All the times that I have heard Willie saying: DIRRRRTY DAWG!!!
Each time I listened while an artist gave back to a rapt and respectful audience.
Gretchen Valade continues to inspire. She remains The Angel of Jazz.
FROM EVERYONE AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE, THANKS FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT.
HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR
In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship and never in need.
May you always have a clean shirt, a clear conscience, and enough coin in your pocket to buy a pint!
DECEMBER 31 NEW YEAR’S EVE
THEN THE DIRTY DOG WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL JANUARY 7, 2019