A WEEK IN MARCH IN DETROIT
March in Detroit … ugh.
There is one month that has always defeated me. March in Detroit can be depended on to dash all our hopes after teasing us with early signals that spring is coming. March says “not so fast”. This year we celebrated Easter day in 70 degree weather and a few days later we had a forecast of some snow. Warning thoughts of “expect the unexpected” and “don’t jump the gun” drift through brief bits of sunlight. The cold mist of reality soon surrounds us. In honor of all those that hung around in Michigan all March we celebrate the 1st of April, which we call April Fool’s Day.
THE LAST WEEK IN MARCH
The only way to survive March is to try to look for sunshine in the spirit of the survivors.
Like the flowers growing up through the cracks in the pavement Detroiters manage to look their best working through adversity. The last week of March,2016 brought into focus the warmth that the jazz community provides even during March’s drizzly days.
A WARM AND COZY RETREAT
Last week Diego Rivera brought his quartet into the warm atmosphere of the Dirty Dog Jazz Café for two nights.
The Dog was characteristically filled with a crowd of knowledgeable jazzniks.
Diego didn’t disappoint. Many of the tunes he brought with him were his original compositions. He explained where he got his inspiration for his music and why he was at ease playing it front of such a knowing audience. He had a mentor that as part of his early instruction passed on the wisdom to be true to one’s self. His music spoke both of his heritage and his feelings for his family. He had been given a gift that has allowed him to express himself freely, and he was passing it on.
His band included his inspiring teacher Rodney Whitaker and two of his students Corey Kendrick on piano and Nicholas Bracewell on drums, whom Diego had guided through their years at Michigan State. What a band!
DIEGO RIVERA AT THE DIRT DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
Last week I wrote a piece for this blog suggesting that the Dirty Dog Jazz Café could be the best jazz club in the world. A day later Diego Rivera sent out a notice stating he would be at the world’s best jazz club that week. Sure enough he repeated that statement from the bandstand and then proceeded to prove the fact. A little later he gave some reasons for his pick of the world’s best club. I asked Diego if he had been inspired by my blog favoring the Dog. To my surprise it turns out that he wrote his thoughtful words of praise before he saw the blog. We both stood there looking dumbfounded until we agreed that great minds act alike. And once again I am shown how mysterious this life can be.
ERIC ALEXANDER AND HAROLD MABERN AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
Diego was followed at the Dog by the saxophonist Eric Alexander. Eric picked up where Diego left off. He brought the power and sureness in his playing along with a hard bop and post bop influence that we had heard from Diego. He also brought a confidence to express his ideas and the leadership ability that allowed him to surround himself with established jazz greats. He had the legendary Harold Mabern on piano and if that wasn’t enough Joe Farnsworth was sitting at the drum set. It speaks volumes about the quality of jazz played at the Dirty Dog to think in one week Rodney Whitaker, Joe Farnsworth and Harold Mabern were sidemen to the two stellar bandleader/saxophonists. It was an amazing week with a massive amount of talent gathered together, and no one talked about the weather.
LYNN LAPLANTE AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
Last week we lost Lynn Laplante. Lynn was a good guy and a good pianist. We had a chance to see him at work several times at the Dirty dog. The band that he headed, LL7, brought to life Cuban / Latin jazz. His passing was felt through the large community of Detroit musicians. Lynn was seldom alone on the bandstand where he brought so many into his creative sphere. His influence will live on in all of those that he touched.
We do not go through life unaccompanied, especially in Detroit. It’s a town where If we know someone is struggling, we offer our hand. I have seen it over and over. Detroit seems to embrace those who give an honest effort. Jazz musicians always give an honest effort. The community has a habit of acting like a functioning family which takes care of it’s own. I witness over and over the jazz community respond when they lose someone. The music helps to sooth the hurt.
Coming this week to the Dirty Dog for four nights will be Rayse Biggs. What a great way to say goodbye to March.
FOR INFO ON UPCOMING SHOWS AT THE DIRTY DOG GO TO: http://: dirtydogjazz.co