RANDY NAPOLEON VERSUS THE POLAR VORTEX
Something called the polar vortex sent dangerously cold weather into the north central states last week. Flesh left exposed to the cold wind for any time was susceptible to frostbite. We were warned to stay put and go outside only if necessary. Many Detroiters stayed at home exposing themselves to cable TV showing us endless explanations of the polar vortex and pictures of icy empty city streets. Living in the Northern Hemisphere we survive because we know that February is the last full month of winter, that the dangerously hot days of summer are way down the road, and that we are better for having the ability to stand up to winter. We feel sorry for those in the Southern Hemisphere and the tropics as they will be soon be facing the start of winter.
Jazz guitarist Randy Napoleon showed up last week at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. The temperature outside the club was indeed in negative territory. The wind chill was maybe 30 degrees below zero. Inside the cozy Dirty Dog it just got hotter and hotter for four nights. The brave musicians surrounding Randy were young and energized. Those who were not curled up with a book on these bone chilling nights and wandered into the club had a heck of a good time listening to jazz music. February in Michigan can help us appreciate the great indoors. When Randy Napoleon and friends got done playing on Saturday night, they had helped drive the vortex away and the outside temperature went up 50 degrees from when they started on Wednesday. Well done.
It was so cold outside the Dirty Dog last week that dogs were frozen in mid stride.
When the frigid weather sweeps in we tend to hunker down. The streets become empty and, sometimes, magic moments are missed. Again this past Wednesday night was one of those events that those who risked the storm will not forget. Randy was joined by three up and coming young jazz musicians. They played jazz and no one thought about the weather.
They turned out to be the right bunch at the right place on the right night. They lit up the place. There was some well deserved whooping and whistling coming from the bar area. The band had a great time connecting with their music, and their joy was contagious.
Last week at the Dirty Dog give us a chance to be part of a magical process especially in such an intimate club. The musicians tested each other and found common grooves. These were special moments.
I hesitated before putting on my gloves and heavy coat. I was rewarded for my effort and I will carry the experience of that night for a long, long time. I am glad I ventured out that night and richer for having taken the risk.
Maybe the greater risk would be to not go to the Dirty Dog.
In February we are expecting more cold days followed by warm nights inside the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.
Rob Crozier is a jazz musician/composer/arranger living and playing bass, percussions and whatever he can find that makes music in the Southeastern Michigan area.
The Rob Crozier Jazz Ensemble is emerging as one of Michigan’s premiere jazz ensembles. Expect a heavy dose of hard-swinging jazz mixed with Rob’s unique mix of funk and world music.
February 13 – 16
What a pleasure it is to watch Detroit’s young jazz artists come into their own. Anthony has become familiar to anyone that frequents the Dirty Dog. He seems to be on everyone’s go to list. He will be bringing his trumpet, his ideas and his pure sound for four days this week.
February 20 – 23
For all four nights the place will be packed. it will be jammed with those who have an appreciation of our jazz roots. They will be treated to being only feet away from musicians who share their love of jazz and will be playing it about as well as anybody can. They will unabashedly play music that makes one feel good to be alive.
February 27 – March 2
Gerald Gibbs loves what he does. He plays the Hammond B3 organ, and plays it, and plays some more. Here is what James Carter said about Gerald:
“Gerard is basically a continuation of the organ tradition. Playing with him is like getting together with family. He is an individual that is always looking for new things in the music,” When Carter assembles an organ trio, Gerald is the organist he wants.