CELEBRATING MACK AVENUE
MACK AVENUE IN DETROIT
When I drive the length of Mack Avenue on Detroit’s East side I pass through a myriad of neighborhoods. Some stretches are prospering and some aren’t. Often missing are neighborhood shops which one can walk to to get necessities. Like much of Detroit the neighborhoods have struggled to retain locally owned businesses. Their losses are making life more difficult for day to day living. Memories of Detroit as a place where one can walk to work and get some groceries for dinner and the needed medicine for a sick child on the way home still linger. Neighbors would gather in a local restaurant to celebrate a family’s good fortune or get their spirits lifted by the newest hot home grown band. Those were the days. There are many folks working to make life a little easier and we are beginning to see evidence of some success. It isn’t easy.
SOMEONE WHO SAW A NEED AND DID SOMETHING: MACK AVENUE RECORDS
MACK AVENUE RECORDS FOUNDER GRETCHEN VALADE
If you have visited The Dirty Dog Jazz Café or the Detroit Jazz Festival you already understand the reverence for Detroit’s angel of jazz, Gretchen Valade. She is a difference maker. She had the the ability to make our city better and she seldom missed an opportunity to take those actions that do make things better. Detroit has always been in her thoughts and jazz has always been her passion. Mack Avenue Records was a result of her passions. She wanted to help Detroit’s talented jazz artists get a hand up. Gretchen is one of the people who have made life in Detroit easier and richer.
FROM THE MACK AVENUE WEBSITE:
“Founded in the late 1990’s in Detroit, Michigan, Mack Avenue Records’ beginnings were conceived out of a genuine love for jazz and the artists that create it. Gretchen Valade, the label’s founder, sat at the grand piano in her living room composing Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee–inspired vocal charts and wanted to find a way to get them recorded. In that moment Mack Avenue was born. The label’s first few recordings spotlighted both young talent and storied jazz veterans, a mix which contributed to our artistic philosophy in the years that followed………..This was made possible because one very enthusiastic music fan in Detroit sat at her piano and decided she wanted to record what she was writing. She got those songs recorded – in style – and then watched as her creation blossomed, providing leadership and vision at critical points along the way. ”
AN ASIDE: SIERRA STATION ON MACK AVENUE
When he was 16 my son Bill was playing drums in the jazz band JEBOZ. The band played original music and jazz standards. They practiced in our basement and sometimes got gigs on Mack Avenue at the Sierra Station. This meant that after his paper route, his marching band practice, his classes and his seasonal sport he was off to a bar to play jazz. His parents got to go along. Sometimes Marcus Belgrave who lived nearby would stop by and inform the customers that they should listen to the young musicians. He got their attention and rewarded them by sitting in. That was the way it worked.
Bill’s first bands got some air time and the opportunity to perform at the Detroit Montreux Jazz Festival. All the band members are still involved in music.
Detroit treats young artists pretty darned well.
MACK AVENUE RECORDING STARS COMING SOON TO THE DIRTY DOG
COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG OCTOBER 12-15
MACK AVENUES’ DETROIT MUSIC ARTIST SCOTT GWINNELL
Scott is one of Detroit’s true treasures. He is a gifted musician, teacher, composer, arranger and all around good guy. Scott Gwinnell’s brilliant “Cass Corridor Suite” recording launched the Detroit Music Factory label. The success of the CD confirmed Gretchen Valade vision. Scott Gwinnell at the Dirty Dog is a special event.
Dominick’s debut recording for Mack Avenue is “Short Stories,” produced by four-time Grammy winning legend Tommy LiPuma. “Short Stories” is Dominick & Tommy’s first collaboration and is a collection of songs and stories in various genres and generations, all brought together through jazz. It was released June 10th, 2016 on Mack Avenue Records.
OCTOBER 21 – 22
MACK AVENUE ARTIST HAROLD LOPEZ-NUSSA
Mack Avenue recording artist Lopez-Nussa was born into a musical family in Havana on July 13, 1983. Not only are his father and Uncle Ernan, pianist-working musicians, but also his late mother, Mayra Torres, was a highly regarded piano teacher. At the age of eight, Lopez-Nussa began studying at the Manuel Saumell Elementary School of Music, then the Amadeo Roldan Conservatory and finally graduating with a degree in classical piano from the Instituto Superior de Artes (ISA).
IT LOOKS LIKE A GOOD TIME TO CATCH MACK AVENUE OVER ON KERCHEVAL AT THE DIRTY DOG.