KNOW IT ALLS
DETROIT …. A CITY OF KNOW IT ALLS
There are evenings at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café when the band introduces the next song and gives us some personal insights into the music. They often turn and speak facing the bar where they hope to get get factual confirmation. That is where Judy Adams can often be found a few stools from Gretchen Valade. This can be somewhat intimidating as Gretchen is someone who knows almost as much about today’s jazz as Judy. Gretchen has experienced a lot of the history of jazz. When the music starts and is genuine you can see Judy’s and Gretchen’s faces light up and sometimes Gretchen’s whistle of approval can be heard above the music. Generally the Dirty Dog is populated by a knowing crowd. Detroit knows music. Musicians know this and respond with their best. A terrible unfairness sometimes takes place following a set at the Dirty Dog . After leaving the stage many artists head to the bar. It’s not what you think. They are going to be handing out their first hugs of friendship to Gretchen and Judy. These are not the tentative hugs that we gave out as youths when the grouchy aunt came to visit. These are hugs that come from warm feelings of friendship, closeness and loyalty shared among a group, especially a group that shares a rich secret, like knowing great music when they hear it. The audiences at the Dirty Dog are pretty darn deserving of hugs or at least a conversation.At the intimate Dirty Dog Jazz Café they get it.
Two years ago it was decided that Judy and I would create weekly blogs for the Dirty Dog and its customers.
Fortunately Judy Adams not only spends her time chatting and swapping stories with the artists, she shares her knowledge and insights with us. Every week she writes about Detroit’s and the world’s jazz on her Dirty Dog blog.
One of my first blogs was to welcome Judy.
“The day I heard the news that Judy Adams was going to write a blog for the Dirty Dog, I proudly mentioned to my son Bill that I was going to be alongside Judy on the Dirty Dog site. I don’t think he heard my boast. He was anxious to tell me how influential Judy was to his interest in music. She had informed him of all the different music out there by playing the best of it on her public radio shows on WDET. He still wears a Morphogenesis T shirt. Judy’s program, Morphogenesis, was one of the shows that made both local and national music available to a Michigan audience all day long. This was Detroit radio for Detroiters who knew music but had an interest in learning more. Judy and the gang at WDET selected and played eclectic, sometimes alternative music for those who were adventurous. They mixed up standards and straight ahead Jazz. What set these shows apart was that they were curated with care and were not from a passed down playlist. Detroit knows the difference and kept Judy in this gig for 30 years. Along the way Judy met and interviewed most of the musicians that came through or started in Detroit. She has always respected the music and the artists. Judy is a target for hugs from all the musicians and fans who spot her. They know she cares. They know she has always been part of the community. That is why she is such a good fit writing for the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.”
MARK STRYKER / BARRY HARRIS AT THE DIRTY DOG
When a whole lot of musicians can get together and create powerful new stuff we call it Big Band Jazz. This is music that is too often thought of as predictable dance music. This week Mark Stryker wrote at length about his reaction to the anything but sedate Thad Jones and Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. Mark wrote in his uniquely astute and compelling voice. Mark wrote authoritatively. He supplied plenty of details and recognizable situations. Most importantly, he did it with a passion for the music.
MARK STRYKER FEBRUARY 7, 2016 DETROIT FREE PRESS” It begins with a surprising burst of muted brass, an ambiguous chord suspended in midair. Saxophones announce the jabbing theme, heavily syncopated and sparkling like pixie dust. Three scampering ensemble choruses follow as reeds and brass (in cup mutes to start, then open) chase after each other in a game of anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better. They trade 16-bar phrases, then 8s, then 4s. The writing is virtuosic and witty, filled with clever melodic pirouettes, breathless triplets, driving rhythmic accents and colorful chord extensions. Joyous swing is built into every phrase. Harmonies bite with dissonance. Tension builds. Fingers fly. Emotions soar. The ensemble merges in a rocking climax. Wow!’
In Detroit a lot of people know a lot about our music and what makes it work. Maybe that is why Detroit jazz is so great. Good is not enough for Detroit’s know it alls. John Osler
FOR MORE INFORMATION GO TO DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFE.COM