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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin




Sometimes I want to make a comment and I feel a gentle wifely nudge. I make an adjustment and hold off on expressing my honest but inappropriate opinion. When I paint I am sometimes saved from including too much by a friend taking the painting home at the right moment. When I write something I find myself editing more than what I end up saying.

This is a good thing. All art benefits from good editing.


When I paint I often take a rag, dip it in turpentine and wipe off some of what I had thought was brilliantly placed oil paint . This isn’t an easy decision . This is just part of the process. No one but the artist will ever know about the lost pieces .


John Singer Sargent

“An artist painting a picture should have at his side a man with a club to hit him over the head when the picture is finished”.    John Singer Sargent

Sargent was a prolific and conscientious worker.  He strove to paint a painting alla prima, meaning all at one sitting.  To do this he had to wipe off many starts.  He once said, “If only one had oneself under perfect control…one could always paint a thing, finally, in one sitting.” If he was not completely satisfied he would scrape off the entire painting.  He took great trouble to get an unworried fresh look as if it were a sketch.  He would rather scrape or wipe off a painting instead of correcting it.

 I would have liked to have been around to pick up his thrown away starts.



MILES DAVIS   “It’s not the notes you play, it’s the notes you don’t play.”

For years I stopped listening to music. I didn’t have time. During this busy time in my life music continued to be in the background. I listened to old favorites that brought back good memories. I realize now that I missed being around live music. Fortunately my kids were listening to music and we would go to concerts. People were listening and were actually moving to it and sometimes moved by it. Taking the time to listen and see does heal the spirit. When I took the time I found myself listening to simple tunes played honestly.

Simplicity, to me, represents wise restraint. It is also a defense mechanism against complexity. It allows the artist to avoid mistakes and allows the observer to more easily see/hear the message.

Miles Davis – “Don’t worry about playing a lot of notes. Just find one pretty one.”

Jazz uniquely encourages adding and subtracting as tools for the artist.

Miles also said – “Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.”

Kenny Wheeler once asked fellow trumpeter Lee Konitz what he was up to when he took a long pause in a solo. Konitz replied  – “I couldn’t think of anything to play.” I like that.



Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.   Olivia Bertagnolli

At times frantic, busy art and music reflected the times and even led the times. It was done badly too often, but when it was done well we are still talking about it. When a bunch of paint or musical notes are put down with dispatch and purpose a single simple story can be told. When a master does it it is as powerful as a single note in the night air.

Louis Armstrong – “We all do ‘do, re, mi’ but you got to find the other notes yourself.”

One of the most well-known stories in all of music has to be the infamous exchange between Austrian Emperor Joseph II and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  The Emperor had just heard an opera by Mozart and complained,  “That is too fine for my ears – there are too many notes.”.  Mozart’s famous reply was, “There are just as many notes as there should be.”



This Sunday we lost someone who found plenty of new  notes and put his label on each of them.

In his words he was “open to each and every moment as a chance to create something different.”

He was the only Grammy vocalist to win in the jazz, pop and R&B; categories.

“All through his career, he was someone who was daring,” said jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves. “He was totally original. Nobody before him sang like that. He was a courageous singer because he had no problem making something new every single night he was on stage. It was extraordinary to watch.”


There are still a lot of unplayed notes out there. A good place to look for these lost notes would be at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café.



Gary Shunk and his Trio have a bagful of notes. Some of them may be ones that we haven’t heard before. Don’t take a chance and miss the good ones.






#art #Detroit #DirtyDog #DetroitJazzFestival #KimmieHorne #AlvinWaddles #RodneyWhitaker #CliffMonear #SeanDobbins #Jazz #Music #DetroitJazz #artists #DwightAdams #DirtyDogJazzCafé #JudyAdams #JazzinDetroit #JAZZMUSIC #GretchenValade #DaveBennett #musicDirtyDogJazzCafe

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