Monday, October 25, 2010


Billy Strayhorn
Mr. Strayhorn, are you familiar with Sean Dobbins, Kurt Krahnke and Tad Weed? They’re Michigan based jazz musicians. Around the state, they’re known as the DKW Trio. In 2009, they released “The Music of Ellington & Strayhorn: Swing is the Thing Vol. 1”. At Orchestra Hall, last Wednesday, I interviewed drummer Sean Dobbins for an upcoming article for the weekly newspaper the Metrotimes. Dobbins runs Civic Jazz , a jazz program for kids sponsored by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. After the interview, Dobbins gave me a copy of “Swing is the Thing Vol. 1”. Before I talk about the album, I will share with you bits of each member’s background.Dobbins is a sought after drummer. He was a member of the ultra hip jazz ensemble Urban Transport. A few years ago, he started his own band Sean Dobbins and the Modern Jazz Messengers. The Messengers are popular now, and at their concerts Dobbins has a knack for channeling the spirit of Art Blakey, Dobbins’ musical hero. Bassist Kurt Krahnke studied at the New England Conservatory and graduated from Berklee College of Music. He’s played with some heavyweight jazz musicians such as saxophonist Joe Henderson and Jimmy Giuffre. Krahnke has built a solid reputation. Pianist Tad Weed has the most diverse music portfolio, having done stints with Paul Anka and free-jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd. The DKW is a sophisticated trio, and they did a wonderful job of performing some of the music you co-wrote with Mr. Ellington. The DKW Trio is a democracy. However, on "Swing is the Thing", Weed stands out the most, and it’s easy to mistake him for the leader. Weed has the most Kodak moments. He plays gutbucket blues licks on “Do Nothin’ ‘Till You Hear from Me”. His stride piano prelude on “Daydream” was brilliant. It would’ve made Jimmy “The Lion” Smith a little jealous. There’s an unforgettable moment on “Take the “A: Train” where Dobbins makes his drums talk, but other than that he keeps a low profile throughout the album.
Mr. Strayhorn, I have your P.O , Box address in heaven, so I'll FedEx you a copy of “Swing is the Thing”. I bet you will like it, and the next time the DKW Trio performs, I will let you know in advance. Maybe if you aren’t busy you will attend.
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