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Marching On


Dirty Dog Jazz Café

The Dog continues to gain recognition as one of the world’s finest jazz clubs. The Dog just celebrated it’s eighth year. This is quite an accomplishment in such a short time, however, the Village Vanguard in New York City has the jump on our local haunt.

 The Village Vanguard  March 1935 –

They are celebrating their eightieth year serving up jazz. Max Gordon took a risk and bought an old speakeasy on Seventh avenue in 1935. He brought in all kinds of entertainment including poetry, comedy and folk music, at his nightclub before settling down to  being mostly a jazz club. In the fifties they still had a mix of jazz,  stand up comedians and poetry but the Sunday jam sessions brought the crowds and the Vanguard became the mecca for jazz fans. The Village was cooking. The opportunity for young musicians to show their stuff in jams started bringing in the pundits, and the word got out.


Max and Lorraine Gordon…. a great team

For fifty cents you could be a witness to greatness as future giants of the 40s and 50s made jazz history at the Village Vanguard. Lorraine thought Thelonious Monk was someone special. He was, but no one showed up at his first gig. Lorraine and Max persisted in believing in Monk, and their nurturing paid off. And so it went. The Vanguard started to become the place to create and discover the music of this golden time.

They began recording in the basement as well as from the stage. You will find many classic recordings with “(Jazz Great) at the Vanguard” on the cover. I would love to have been there to catch Sidney Bechet before he went to Europe or Sonny Rollins’ fierce bop duets with Max Roach.  Today Lorraine still guides the Village Vanguard, and it remains one of jazz’s best small venues,

Bert Dearing  March 1944 –

Also celebrating a birthday this month was Bert Dearing. Bert has provided a place for Detroit jazz musicians to hone their chops for 46 years. Bert’s Marketplace in The Eastern Market remains Detroit’s late night choice for jazz. Bert is a product of what the French settlers called “black bottom”, an area on Detroit’s near east side. Black bottom referred to the rich soil close to the river. It was a prophetic label judging from all the talent that blossomed there. Black bottom was always a hotbed of clubs and musicians until I-75 came through its center.. Bert’s talent was not for making music, but for allowing music. How fortunate we have been to have entrepreneurs to provide space for our new players and for the energy that they brought to the community.

Music like jazz, that is often created on site, will always need adventurous souls like Max and Lorraine Gordon, Bert Dearing and the Dirty Dog Jazz Café’s Gretchen Valade, who believe in the artists and are willing to take a risk. The more venues for live music the healthier the music scene. The better for us.

new Bert

Here is a painting that I just finished of Bert Dearing

Detroit is going through a creative renaissance much like New York went through after the war and Detroit is positioned to be the cauldron for a lot of new live music. This is a good time to catch some live music . Don’t miss out.


John Osler

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