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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin



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One of Detroit’s greatest assets is her first class hard working musicians. Jazz drifted up the Mississippi River from New Orleans through St Louis and Chicago and spread to the bustling city of Detroit. The music found fertile ground and the city has played a key role in the development of the music from the early 30s until today. A tradition of discipline, good mentoring and living the stories has made Detroit the schoolhouse for jazz. Through good times and tough times the motor city has driven the world’s music machine. Hardship has only strengthened our jazz.  The music has always been passed on by respected and tough taskmasters to eager young musicians. From time to time there have been moments that have challenged keeping jazz alive in Detroit. A major threat happened about a decade ago.

Detroit’s defining music was at a crossroads following an exodus of businesses, jobs and people from our city. One of Detroit’s greatest assets, its jazz, was as powerful and robust as it had ever been, with many young artists ready to carry on. However, Detroit was reeling. Detroit is a city where even in tough times we keep showing up and showing up. Sure enough someone showed up, stood tall and helped save one the world’s great treasures.


Gretchen Valade’s love of the music carried the day . Mack Avenue Records was founded, The Detroit Jazz Festival was saved from extinction and The Dirty Dog Jazz Café opened its doors. The story will be told over and over by the musicians who have been touched by Detroit jazz’s angel.

It was my good fortune to have  been given access  to photograph the musicians who were playing at venues that had been made possible by the generous acts of Gretchen Valade.  A few years ago I assembled these photographs in a book,  DETROIT JAZZ  Documenting the legacy of Gretchen Valade. The book is a collection of my photographs of Detroit’s great jazz artists shot during the years when Detroit and jazz were recovering, thanks to Gretchen’s generous actions. It is my  attempt to document the results of one woman’s dream,  I wanted the world to know that Detroit’s jazz community has never faltered. This book is an attempt to document this time of renewal. I hope that the book respects and honors all of the artists, Detroit and Gretchen.

Documenting The Legacy Of Gretchen Valade

To help document what Gretchen has accomplished all of the photographs selected for this book were shot at the Dirty Dog and the Detroit Jazz Festival. Detroit has so many other musicians and venues which also deserve recognition. The rich lode of talent that play in Detroit has barely been touched in this book.

I would like to thank all of the local and national artists  who performed in these venues. Opening the door to this remarkable world were Gretchen’s right hand, Tom Robinson, Chef André Neimanis, Manager Willie Jones and all the staff of the Dirty Dog. Thanks also to the Detroit Jazz Festival and it’s director, Chris Collin. Of course, thanks to Gretchen, whose strength and foresight have provided the gentle push for both the music and this book. I hope that the book respects and honors all of the artists, Detroit and Gretchen.

If you ever want to be reminded of this great story of jazz and Detroit in photographs, you might consider picking up the book.


When you come by the Dirty Dog ask to see the book. They will be pleased to show you the book and give you a chance to get a first edition copy. This book makes a great gift to anyone who likes jazz, Detroit or photography.

You can order the book online on Amazon or for a signed copy contact us at or call John at 313.886.4728 and we will get books out to you.

The book can also be purchased at the DIA.

Thank again to Gretchen and all those whose passion for jazz and Detroit helped me to produce the photographs that make up this book. I would also thank the citizens of Detroit who remind me every day that those things that seem out of reach are possible.

John Osler

Here are some pages from the book.

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December 12-15


One of the jazz world’s greatest spirits will strip away any of your late winter blahs this week. Bring your most youthful attitude. David deserves and accepts applause


#Detroit #MarkStryker #DirtyDog #AlvinWaddles #SeanDobbins #Book #Jazz #Music #DetroitJazz #DwightAdams #DirtyDogJazzCafé #JudyAdams #JAZZMUSIC #RalpheArmstrong #DaveBennett #AlexanderZonjic

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