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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin



June is here. It is time to safely put the snow shovels away in Michigan. We already are surrounded by beautiful flowering trees and plants. Weeds are finding growth opportunities in the darndest places. I found a dandelion growing in a 1/4 inch wide crack in our sidewalk. When the will is there, things have a way of growing up., even our own kids and our grandkids.

For some of them this will be gradation week. Off they go into the next stage of their lives. Hopefully they will continue to grow smarter and stronger after the school year ends.

I often see some young jazz students come early to the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. They get seats close to the band. These young musicians will have a chance to get some continuing education in one of the best jazz clubs in America.  With time they will acquire the same passion, manners and assurance that the established musicians possess. They will notice that in jazz, musicians who share a stage are assumed to be equals. When they leave the club they will carry with them some reasons to go home and practice. The kids who show up at  jazz clubs will usually have a parent close at hand, someone who is having just as much joy being there as his/her young friend. We will likely be seeing some of these kids at a jam in the future. It will depend on the adults in their life as well as their innate abilities.

Jazz-band teachers do one thing right in teaching,  something that other teachers could learn from. I think it is that they talk to the students as if they will soon be playing in a band with them. In Detroit most teachers who teach in jazz programs are themselves players. They are professionals. They have a vested interest in pushing their students to get to their level. Think about what they have to do: They take young kids who know little about music beyond humming a tune and teach them music theory, teach them to read music, help them with their instrument and then they have to teach the students how to compose on the fly. Hearing such wonderful music coming from young people raises a nagging question. What can we learn from jazz teachers to help kids master other complicated courses such as science, math, language arts, etc. I sometimes think all teachers should be required to take an arts course from a professional artist.


If we look at a jazz band we will witness teachers learning and learners teaching

, all on the fly. Jazz musicians are always ready to learn from each other, probably because they have had teachers and band mates who genuinely have deserved respect. No one can teach  jazz except some one who can play the music. All jazz musicians and most artists, whether they know it or not, are in a continuous learning mode. Every note, brushstroke or word can be a little different and worth thinking about. I remain in awe of both jazz musicians and teachers.

Herbie Hancock – “A great teacher stimulates his student’s creativity enough so that they go out & find the answers themselves.

We all have been asked “who is your favorite teacher?”. We automatically think back to our school days for an answer. Did we stop learning after we left school? Had we learned everything we needed to know? Probably not, we are all students every day of our lives and we go through life surrounded by teachers. Every day I meet people whose lives are both inspiring and instructive, There is so much to be learned, if only I weren’t always in such a hurry. We owe so much to those generous folks who take some time to share their gifts with us, those friends who include the kind act of teaching in their day.  I include these mentors in my list of favorite teachers.


The greatest teacher we have is life itself. Daily we are barraged by sights, sounds, suggestions, silences and urges that give us something to think about. If we are lucky we will have had an art or music teacher in our lives, someone who encouraged us to see and listen to the ordinary stuff around us. They told us that it is OK to be unique. They gave us the assurance that failure is just part of the process.

Jazz and art are individual and personal. It requires time, focus, listening, preparation, repetition, and sometimes a teacher.

I am constantly reminded what a great place Detroit is for learning There are so many remarkably nice people both teaching and learning.

John Osler


June 5,6


This week the Dirty Dog presents Tumbao Bravo. They are a Latin jazz combo that brings the rhythms of Cuba to life with congas, timbales, sax, flute, trumpet, keyboard, and bass.

In  music of Afro-Cuban origin, tumbao is the basic rhythm played on the bass. In North America, the basic conga drum pattern used in popular music is also called tumbao. Bravo just means approval and wanting more.

Tumbao is also an Afro-Puerto Rican word  which means “an indescribable African sexiness or swing.”  Knowing this we should expect a crowd at the Dirty Dog.

June 7,8


Make your reservations early as Alexander has earned a loyal following eager to find out what he is up to. There will be music guaranteed to lift your spirits.

This week the Dirty Dog has programmed two of Detroit’s finest jazz groups back to back. Alexander will follow Tumbao Bravo with his one of a kind act. Alexander Zonjic will challenge his pals to keep up with this true Detroit icon.

June 12 – 15


Charles is a jazz pianist who will be joined by his wife Gwen who is conveniently a jazz vocalist. They have been headliners in Detroit music for some time. Help welcome them back to the Dirty  Dog.


June 19 – 22


Detroit contributed some of the major hard bop artists of the 1960s.  The James Hughes & Jimmy Smith Quintet honors that tradition by playing up tempo mostly original hard bop James Hughes and Jimmy Smith contributed a lot of the compositions and arrangements.

June 26,27


A wondrous spirit, Ralphe Armstrong will bring a good argument that Detroit’s  jazz is on  the rise. Ralphe is a true champion of Detroit and of its greatest export, its music.

June 28,29


Stanley Jordan and Diego Fiqueredo will descend on Detroit for two remarkable nights at the Dirty Dog..

These are two of jazz’s most exciting musicians who just happen to both play guitar. It is recommended that you make a reservation as early as possible.

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