Saturday, December 31, 2011


Wallace Roney
Trumpeter Wallace Roney’s band opened the Templar Jazz Series at the Masonic Temple in Midtown Detroit Friday night with two hot sets of jazz music best described as hard bop on steroids. Roney came to town with a band of young players who looked like teens—with the exception of Roney’s brother sax player Antoine Roney—but they showed they have big league skills. 

 How good were they? If Roney had come down with a bad cold that prevented him from performing, his band bass player Rashaan Carter, drummer Kush Abadey, alto sax player Arnold Lee and the piano player whose name I did not catch could have carried the concert. No one would have demanded their money back.  

The band was hyped up both sets, partly because of the loud and aggressive drumming of Kush Abadey. I could not tell if his microphone was set higher than the others, or if he just liked playing loudly, which is common among too many young jazz drummers out to prove themselves. He has nothing to prove. For goodness sake he is touring with Roney. That speaks volumes. 

 Anyway, when a jazz band has a pushy and a loud drummer, he makes his band mates work harder than normally required. Abadey pushiness was the only glaring eyesore. Otherwise the band was tight, particularly Antoine Roney. 

Clearly, Roney has spent time pouring over John Coltrane’s early albums as a leader and his worked while on Miles Davis’s payroll. I wonder if Roney hired his brother because he plays like Trane. 

 Anyway, on sax Roney has a tone so big and wide it could fill up a fat man’s boxer shorts. Roney’s soloing was one of the highpoints of both sets. As for his big brother Wallace, he finally after years of copying his hero Miles Davis, sounds like his own man. 

 My pal Luis, a red-blooded American jazz fan, disagreed with me. Roney is known as a great jazz trumpet  player and a Miles Davis copycat. After the concert, Luis said Roney’s sounded like Miles did on “In a Silent Way” and on “Water Babies”. 

To me, Roney’s onstage behavior favors Miles’s. Last night, Roney never acknowledged the audience. Nor did he give the title of the tunes his band played. 

Those were forgivable sins given how good his band played. Both sets were a big step toward establishing the Templar Jazz Series as worthwhile program in a city with a jazz series on damn near every corner.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Omar Sosa
1.) Omar Sosa (Jazz Cafe)

2.) The Stanley Clark Band (Orchestra Hall)

3.) Ahmad Jamal (Hill Auditorium)

4.) Jeff “Tain” Watts (Charles A. Wright Museum of African-American History)

5.) Bob Hurst (Virgil Carr Center)

6.) Steve Nelson and Mulgrew Miller (Virgil Carr Center)

7.) Karriem Riggins wsg Common (Detroit Jazz Festival)

8.) The Gerald Clayton Trio (Detroit Groove Society)

9.) Bunky Green, Rudresh Mahanthappa, and Vijay Iyer (The Power Center)

10.) Kate Patterson (The Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church)

Thursday, December 15, 2011


James Carter Caribbean Rhapsody (Emarcy)
This is Carter’s first masterpiece in what’s shaping up to be a hall of fame jazz career.

Christian Scott, David Sanchez, Stefon Harris Ninety Miles (Concord)
For serious acoustic jazz lover this date is the equivalent of comfort food.

The James Carter Trio At the Crossroad (Emarcy)
What a grand way to celebrate the trio’s tenth anniversary with a blues and gospel tinged outing.

Christian McBride Conversations with Christian (Mack Avenue)
The greatest jazz bassist of his generation having some one on one time with many of his favorite musicians.

Michel Camilo Mano Mano (Emarcy)
The jazz pianist served up the tastiest version of Lee Morgan classic “Sidewinder” I’ve never consumed.

Rene Marie Voice of My Beautiful Country (Motema)
Marie gave me my first ear-gasm listening to this offering.

Rahasaan Barber Everyday Magic (Jazz Music City)
This glorious album is proof Tennessee is still making top choice jazz saxophone players a la Sonny Criss, Hank Crawford, and Frank Strozier.

Rez Abbasi Invocation (Enja)
A killer jazz album from a not so well-known jazz guitar player with Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa riding shotgun.

Robert Hurst Unrehurst Volume 2(Bebob Records)
Could serve a template for future generations of how a trio jazz date should sound.

Noah Jackson Contemplations: A Suite (Self-release)
Jackson’s senior recital project when he was a student at the Michigan State University, and it has the polish and seriousness of a major label release.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Steve Nelson
Steve, I just want to drop you a note to thank you and Mulgrew Miller for putting on two wonderful sets Friday evening at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural & Arts Center in Detroit. Man, it was cold as all get out last night, but inside the center it felt like summer.

Jazz concert promoter Bill Foster put together the all-star band. Bass player Bob Hurst and drummer Karriem Riggins rounded out the band. You and Miller should keep this band together. It seemed as though you guys have worked together for a long time.

I dug how you started the concert with two well-known songs played at quick tempos “Up Jumped Spring” and “It Could Happen to You”. Then giving the audience a breather with Monk’s “’Round Midnight” before playing “If I Were a Bell” at the fastest tempo I have ever heard it performed. Your buddy Miller was great. You were right pointing out Miller is a living master on the piano. No one in their right mind would refute that.

Bob Hurst is a genius on the upright bass. Wherever you took the music Hurst was right there. And I knew it would only be a matter of time before you let Karriem Riggins loose. You know as well as I do you cannot contain Riggins for long.

He exploded on “You and the Night and the Music” like a kid shaking a bottle of soda then removing the cap. For me that solo was the highlight of the concert. Steve, the band cooked all night long. You could tell that because Rebbecca Hope danced both sets.

Hope was the tall white lady wearing the printed green dress who yelled out as if she was having an orgasm when the band closed the concert with “Bags Groove”. Hope is a big time supporter of the music. All the local jazz musicians know and respect her. She goes to all the jazz concert big or small.

Steve, I know that you Miller, Hurst, and Riggins are busy, but sometime soon, you all should think about touring nationally and cutting an album.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Ron Carter
I Dig Jazz would like to take a minute to tip its hat to the jazz musicians and bands who’re recently nominated for a Grammy. This year was an excellent year for jazz music. Many of the albums selected were talked about on this blog, and I Dig Jazz agrees wholeheartedly with the nominations. Here’s a sample of the jazz musicians nominated.

Gerald Clayton Bond: The Paris Sessions (Best Jazz Instrumental Album)

Joe Lovano Us Five (Best Jazz Instrumental Album)

Sonny Rollins Roadshow Vol.2 (Best Jazz Instrumental Albums)

Christian McBride The Good Feeling (Best Jazz Large Ensemble Album)

Ron Carter You Are My Sunshine (Best Improved Jazz Solo)

Fred Hersch Work (Best  Improved Jazz Solo)

Gerald Wilson Legacy   (Best Jazz Large Ensemble Album)

Karren Allison 'Round Midnight (Best Jazz Vocal Album)

Kurt Elling The Gate (Best Jazz Vocal Album)