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Everybody has the blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for Faith. In music, especially that broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone to all of these. ” 


My mother’s voice was always calm and soothing. She took time from her life to read to me. I can still curl up inside the memory of her pleasantness and the choice of her words.

My father had less time for extended warm moments. His voice was firm, authoritarian and final. It was also loving because he was loving which was reflected in his choice of words.


Martin Luther King Jr came along and seemed to find the right words like my dad with the calmness of my mom. He reinforced my appreciation for the spoken and written word.

Martin Luther King Jr had many gifts. He seemed to see truths clearly. He fearlessly shared these truths and directed us to take action. We are so lucky that one man seemed  to know so much and also had such eloquence.

Martin Luther King Jr was challenged every day of his life, as many of his messages  touched nerves and were inconvenient to many. Others dismissed him for being an inappropriate messenger. He may never be accepted by some, but the words that he chose will survive for many Martin Luther King Days to come.


Every year on his birthday we continue to honor Dr Martin Luther King Jr. We honor the man and listen again to his words. Few Americans have achieved as much change for the good of the country. We can count on one hand the Americans who have a national holiday dedicated to remembering their lives. Dr. King’s legacy has grown each year since his tragic death. Each year we get a chance to rediscover anew the depth of his purpose, the truth of his message and the sacrifice of his actions. Dr. King sought to correct the course of our nation, he stood fast and he succeeded. We will honor him with a special day to express our thanks for his clarion call to embrace change when it is needed.


When Martin Luther King gave his speech on the Washington mall he used the phrase, “now’s the time” which rings as true now as it did then. He found this command in the music of Charlie Parker. Dr King had a sense of urgency to affect change. He felt that those suffering from injustice deserved justice now. Still true.


Martin Luther King sought the truth before he spoke the truth. He listened. Maybe that is why he admired jazz musicians.


Dr. Martin Luther King’s opening address to the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival:

“God has wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create—and from this capacity has flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and joy that have allowed man to cope with his environment and many different situations.

Jazz speaks for life. The Blues tell the story of life’s difficulties, and if you think for a moment, you will realize that they take the hardest realities of life and put them into music, only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph.

This is triumphant music.

Modern jazz has continued in this tradition, singing the songs of a more complicated urban existence. When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of the earth which flow through his instrument.

It is no wonder that so much of the search for identity among American Negroes was championed by Jazz musicians. Long before the modern essayists and scholars wrote of racial identity as a problem for a multiracial world, musicians were returning to their roots to affirm that which was stirring within their souls.

Much of the power of our Freedom Movement in the United States has come from this music. It has strengthened us with its sweet rhythms when courage began to fail. It has calmed us with its rich harmonies when spirits were down.

And now, Jazz is exported to the world. For in the particular struggle of the Negro in America there is something akin to the universal struggle of modern man. Everybody has the Blues. Everybody longs for meaning. Everybody needs to love and be loved. Everybody needs to clap hands and be happy. Everybody longs for faith.

In music, especially this broad category called Jazz, there is a stepping stone towards all of these.”

Most nights at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café  jazz musicians listen to and speak truth to each other. When I look around at those gathered at this jazz club to listen to jazz, I think that it might make Dr. King smile.

John Osler


January 22 – 25


Planet D Nonet is a down & dirty little swing band from Detroit. It was founded by  a familiar face at the Dirty Dog, drummer, RJ Spangler, and his long time friend, trumpeter James O’Donnell. The Planet D Nonet is about swing, blues, space-age jazz and classic American songs all served with plenty of good humor with an eye toward turning people onto this kind of music. It’s worth coming out just for RJ Spangler‘s  explanations of each tune’s origins and the stories behind the music. RJ will give us an in depth description of the sources for the music before Planet D Nonet plays each tune. RJ Spangler will speak to the roots of the tunes, and then Planet D Nonet  will play their music in a way that we will be able to feel the life of the time each tune was written.  RJ and most of his bands have a serious appreciation for the jazz artists who wrote music that reflected the lives, the times and the places that these pioneers passed through. These stories of America’s music never stop inspiring us.

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