Monday, November 14, 2011


Gerald Clayton
At one point during the Gerald Clayton’s trio first set at the Detroit Groove Society’s home concert series, I feared Andrew Rothman, the series producer, would have to call in the West Bloomfield Hills fire department. Clayton’s trio drummer Quincy Davis and bass player Joe Sander nearly set the house afire on the “Bolivia”.

Sander called the number and it was a sample of the level of swing the trio would offer the second set. Clayton kept the first set to a simmer, getting the crowd good and ready for the second where his trio played hits from his first album “Two Shades” and his most recent outing the “Bond: the Paris Sessions”.

Clayton is a killer jazz piano player. Three years ago, Clayton gave two hot sets at the Detroit Groove Society, and the concert series regulars have been anxiously waiting for Clayton return.

Sunday’s concert was wonderful, and a fitting end to a four night run for Clayton’s trio. Wednesday through Saturday they played the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. There was no sign the concerts took a toll on the trio.

For nearly three hours Sunday, the trio was crisp and creative. Clayton showed his skills, and his enjoyment of playing songs with many tempo changes. Clayton loves playing in Detroit, and we love having him here whether it’s at a jazz club or at a house concert.

Clayton always does his best. Rumor is Mack Avenue Records wants to sign Clayton. That would be a big score for the Detroit based record company. Clayton will be on the team with Christian McBride, Sean Jones, Gerald Wilson, and Gary Burton. Not bad company.

During the break Diane Rothman told Clayton why she and Andrew started putting on concerts. They were big timed jazz concert goers.

The Rothman’s became dismayed. They would pay good money but not be able to enjoy a concert because of people yapping away while the musicians played.

So they decided to host concerts in their home. They did a dry run by holding a concert for Andrew’s 40th birthday. It was a big hit. George Cables and Geri Allen are two of the big time musicians who played in the Rothman’s home.

Andrew has an eye for the top jazz talent and a complete love for jazz. When the Detroit Jazz Festival’s board was shopping for a new director, the board should have considered Andrew. Of course, he would have turned them down flat, but he would have been a good fit.

The home jazz concerts are gifts for jazz fans because at each gig they have a ringside seat, and they can mix and mingle with the musicians during the break. The concerts are reasonably priced and the Rothmans have plenty to eat and drink.

Unfortunately, the Rothman’s only held two concerts this year. Maybe next season the supporters of the series will insist the Rothman’s put on more shows and, of course, bring Clayton’s trio back.

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