Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Pianist Dave Brubeck Last Sunday, I posted my five favorite albums released in 2008. Today I want to share with the readers Of I Dig Jazz my top five concerts of 2008. First, I should explain I attended many performers, and received quite a few good albums. I challenged myself. I only selected five concerts; choosing more would have been too easy.

1.) Dee Dee Sharp
2008 Detroit International Jazz Festival

The others vocalists who performed at the jazz fest should have scheduled their lunch break around Sharp’s set to take notes on how to stage an unforgettable show. The sixty something journey-woman tank was on full. By the time Sharp reached the fourth song of her set, she had to give her band and back up singers a coffee break. They were worn-out.

2.) Sean Dobbins and the New Jazz Messengers
Baker’s Keyboard Lounge

The drummer had a lot to live up too, naming his quintet after the late drummer and bandleader Art Blakey. Dobbins succeeded. The drummer has a gift. He can swing while playing patterns and melodies. His quintet played hard as the original Messengers.

3.) Joan Belgrave
Cliff Bells

I heard the vocalist with her own band for the first time in 2008. The crowd was noisy and unruly. Her voice tamed them. That’s a character trait of an experienced chanteuse. Her performance was a mix of classic jazz, blues, and pop selections. My ears were satisfied after the first set.

4.) Earl Klugh
Orchestra Hall

The guitarist is an unselfish bandleader. Instead of hogging the stage, Klugh shared the spotlight with his band-mates. Klugh bragged about their accomplishments and upcoming project, but he said little about his future aspirations.

5.) Dave Brubeck
Orchestra Hall

As I drove to the pianist’s concert, I wondered if he could still swing. He is 88. After Brubeck soloed on the opening tune of the set, I had my answer. Yes! All night, the pianist worked harder than a contractor.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Vocalist Cassandra WilsonThe end of the 2008 is near. It is time for my top five jazz albums of 2008. I started the annual list last year. The list had the top five albums I purchased, which included new albums and reissues. This time around, my list only has new albums released in 2008 that I either received or purchased. I replayed the albums repeatedly, and I recommended to the readers of I Dig Jazz.

1.) Cassandra Wilson

Loverly-Blue Note Records

Wilson consistently delivers music that is warm and comfortable.

2.) Bill Cunliffe
Blues and the Abstract Truth Take 2-Resonance Records

This was the first time I experienced pianist Bill Cunliffe. I enjoyed every inches of this albums, which is a remake of saxophonist Oliver Nelson’s classic album for Impulse Records. Take 2 works because Cunliffe did not attempt to emulate the way Nelson made the original.

3.) Sonny Rollins
Road Shows Vol.1-Doxy Records

Rollins wrote the rulebook on improvisation. Live is the best context to experience the tenor saxophonist. If you only have Rollin’s studio recordings, and you want to hear his live material the Road Shows Vol. 1 is a sufficient primer.

4.) The Hot Club of Detroit
Night Town- Mack Avenue Records

The second album by the Detroit based Gypsy jazz band sound as if Django Reinhardt spirit was present during the making of this album. Night Town is that good.

5,) organissimo
Groovadelphia-Big O Records

The Lansing, Michigan based trio’s third album swings from track one to track nine

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Normally, I only blog about jazz music. I made an exception, Seal, because your new album Seal Soul astonished me. I planned to write about your album the day after I purchased it, but I received an email from my editor, W. Kim Heron, at the Metrotimes, a weekly newspaper in Detroit, MI. I write about jazz for, informing me jazz pianist Kenn Cox died after an unsuccessful battle with lung cancer.

The day I designated to write about Seal Soul I instead eulogized Cox. I knew his death was inevitable, but I was still saddened when it finally happened. Cox official going home memorial is Saturday, and I may skip it. Anyway, Seal today is Christmas. I am ready to write about your album.

I fell for Seal Soul after the first listen. Several years ago, my friend, Rene, (not her real) introduced me to your work. I recall one evening I visited her. While she cooked, I picked through her album collection. I disliked her taste, and I often teased her about it. She only had one jazz album James Carter's Conversatin' With the Elders. I asked, as she chopped up a tomato and a head of lettuce for a salad why she purchased that albums. She could not recall, but she disliked it, commenting it was too disjointed for her taste. I did not ask for an explanation. I put it away. Then pulled out one of your albums. I cannot recall the title.

You were nude on the cover. You looked spooky. I told Rene I wanted to improve her taste in music. She smirked. Then called me a one dimensional jazz nut, and encouraged me to play the album. Initially I bulked, telling Rene I was reluctant to because I was hungry and the album may kill my appetite. She threatened not to feed me. So I played the album under duress. I liked it immediately. Seal I cannot remember the name of the songs.

Over dinner, Rene said you look sexy in leather pants. She offered no insight about what attracted her to your music. Sometimes Rene talked to me as if I am one of her girlfriends, and sometimes when she does I ignore her. Occasionally, I have to remind her I am a guy; I do not want to hear how sexy some guy is. Seal, I added you have a good voice, but I refused to remark about your sex appeal. You are a serious artist. That should be acknowledged. I have not talked to Rene in weeks.

I don't know if she purchased Seal Soul. If she did, I wonder if she likes it as much as I do. Presently, Seal, I feel uncomfortable saying I am a fan. I own only one of your albums Seal Soul. A devoted fan would own all your work, and could recite your biography. I know you are married to super model Heidi Klum, and you made this great album Seal Soul that I play at least four times a week.

Your voice suits the 13 classic soul songs you chose to perform. You did not imitate the singers who made A Change Is Gonna Come, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World, I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, People Get Ready and I’m Still Living You. You approached those soul classic as if you wrote them, and experienced each lyric. You were that thorough. On the surface, it seems challenging, but you make it look easy.

Seal Soul is an homage to those artists. If James Brown, Sam Cooke, Curtis Mayfield, and Otis Redding were still alive they would be elated you handled their music like valuable heirlooms. The next time I talk with Rene I will tell her one day I plan to be a Seal fan, and less of a one dimensional jazz snob.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Pianist Kenn Cox /Photo by C. Andrew Hovan Yesterday evening, Kenn, my editor W. Kim Heron at the Metrotimes, a weekly newspaper in Detroit, MI., emailed me. The emailed said you passed away early Friday morning in your Westside Detroit home you shared with your wife of 42 years Barbara. You had lung cancer. Kenn I wanted to blog about you soon after reading the email, but I could formulate the right combination of words to convey how much I respected you as a jazz musician and human being. Instead of blogging, I went to Targets. Shopping for some reason helps clear my mind.

When I returned home, I still was not ready to write about you so I watched a rerun of the 90’s sitcom Martin. Then a dumb black exploitation movie titled Original Gangsta, which stared Fred Williamson, Jim Brown, Ron O’Neal and Pam Grier. When the movie ended, I was tired and I could not muster enough energy to write.

I had an entire day now to come to grips with your passing, and frankly, I have run out of excuses. This evening, I planned to go to Cliff Bells to hear the Hot Club of Detroit and saxophonist James Carter, but I decided—you probably will think I am absolutely nuts—to stay home to write this blog.

I did not know you as intimately as I knew your comrades the late pianists Teddy Harris and Harold McKinney, drummer Roy Brooks, and saxophonist Donald Walden who helped me out when I set out to make a name for myself as a jazz journalist. I bet when they learn God summoned you home they prepared a lavish home coming celebration. Man, I would love to attend that gig.

I wonder, though, how God plans to divide the solo time among you, Harris and McKinney. God has three of Detroit’s best jazz pianists. Kenn, I heard about your stellar reputation as a jazz historian and as a remarkable jazz pianist countless times before I finally met you last year when I interviewed you for an article my editor encouraged me to write.

We talked for two hours in the family room. The piano you learned to play on was in the room along with memorabilia you collected traveling the world. That afternoon you smoked, and we drank Budweiser beer as you recounted pivots moments of your career. I got the impression; however, you felt uneasy talking about yourself, which may explain why you talked more about the musicians who influenced you such as the late pianist Alice Coltrane who befriended and encouraged you when you started out.

Then you talk about the each member of your band Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet. You had a swell time working with trumpeter Charles Moore, drummer Danny Spencer, bassist Ron Brooks, and tenor saxophonist Leon Henderson (saxophonist Joe Henderson’s younger brother) and about the recordings you guy made while signed to Blue Note Records Kenny Cox and the Contemporary Jazz Quintet and Multidirection.

You fronted many great bands during your career, but as I listened to you brag about how great each member was I gathered the Contemporary Jazz Quintet was your most cherished. After the interview, you walked me to my car, and I jokingly said I felt as though I had just completed a jazz history exam.

I must be honest. Before that interview I was unfamiliar with your history, and I was unaware you were once signed to Blue Note Records. I discovered Blue Note reissued the albums at the Festival of Jazz and improvised Music. I set next to a skinny white guy who wore a Detroit Tiger baseball cap, khaki shorts, and he swayed back and forth while the musician played.

I took notes at the festival because the publisher of Signal to Noise, a music magazine based in Houston, hired me to review the music fest. During the intermission, the skinny white guy asked me what newspaper I wrote for, but I cannot recall how we began talking about your music. During the conversation, the guy said Blue Note had recently reissued the albums on a single disc.

The next day, I purchased the album. Two hours later, I was in love with it. I called my editor to tell him I wanted to write about you. Just so happened, my editor had heard you at the Detroit Institute of the Arts with your new group Kenn Cox and Drum, and weeks later playing with your trio at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. At Baker’s, my editor said you played show tunes so beautifully you made him cry. He was enthusiastic about publishing a piece about you. He also sent me some bootlegged albums of your live concerts, which I listened to while I wrote the article.

Before interviewing you, I heard you perform in the early 90’s with saxophonist Donald Walden at the Museum of African-American History, and your work on James Carter’s live album Live at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. You played elegantly a la Duke Ellington and Oscar Peterson. When you soloed, you took your time giving each note equal consideration. It seem like your fingers were made of cashmere when you performed a ballad.

Kenn, you treated me respectfully as if you had known me for years. You were gracious and welcoming. I wish I had more recollections of you. I felt fortunate, however, to have spent that afternoon with you.

When you arrive in heaven, let Donald, Roy, Teddy, and Harold know that I missed them dearly. Do not tell them it took me so long to express how much I respected you, and cherished the two hours we spent talking last year about you life as an accomplished jazz pianist.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Dear Marcus Belgrave,

I missed your sets Saturday evening at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café. I waited too late to make reservations. The maitre d’ said each set was booked solid. I was pissed. My friend William heard you weeks ago at the Detroit Institute of the Arts. He said you had the stamina of a man half your age, and the next time you played around town, I should attend.

Marcus, I am not a procrastinator. I miscalculated, figuring I could get into the Dirty Dog without a reservation. I was wrong. I talked with your wife vocalist Joan Belgrave last week about writing an article about her soon to be released album and her career. She spent most of the conversation promoting your new album, which will feature saxophonist Charlie Gabriel.

I want to review your album, but first I want to profile Joan. I caught Joan’s first set at Cliff Bells last month. I wrote a blog about how much I enjoyed her voice although some rude people in the audience talked louder than Joan sang.

Marcus, did the audience at the Dirty Dog enjoy your set? That café attracts a sophistical crowd. Are you surprised at age 73 you can still pack a club? I heard you took the gig to showcase some of your pupils from Oberlin College.

Marcus, have you seen the movie ‘Round Midnight, starring tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon as Dale Turner a hard luck jazz musician in Europe trying to make ends meet while trying to overcome his drinking problem? There is this scene where a man, who befriends Gordon’s, sits outside this jazz club in the rain. The man is a big fan, but he cannot afford the cover charge. The man stands outside the club listening to Gordon blow.

Marcus it rained Saturday evening the same time your first set began. I considered standing outside the Dirty Dog. I am not kidding. I wanted to hear you play that much. I thought about you this morning. I wondered how hard you and your pupils swung.

Over the years, I could always rely on you when I needed some insight on what is happening on the jazz scene not just in Michigan but also throughout the country. As long as I have known you, I never heard you play in an intimate setting such as the Dirty Dog. I know you more as a jazz educator shaping the next generation of jazz musicians. I have never known you to be a spotlight hog.

My favorite Marcus Belgrave moment was at the 2003 Detroit International Jazz Festivals. You showcased the current generation of trumpeters who you schooled such as Sean Jones and Corey Wilkes. You called the performance Marcus Belgrave and the Trumpet Summit. To this day, I think about that performance, and the way those trumpet players blew up the stage. You did not solo, and Sean Jones, who currently holds the first trumpet chair in the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and who was one of the first jazz musicians to sign with Mack Avenue Records, stole the show.

You always have great stories to tell. Like when you played with Ray Charles. He underpaid the band, but you said it seem like a bunch of cash because Charles paid each musician in one dollar bills. Two years, ago backstage at the 2007 Detroit International Jazz Festival just before Herbie Hancock’s set. I asked you about saxophonist Leon Henderson, saxophonist Joe Henderson’s brother. I wanted to do a where-is-he-now story on Leon, but I had tough time tracking down information about the saxophonist. I decided to ask you. You could not confirm the saxophonist whereabouts, nor if he was still alive.

Then you told a story about helping the Leon get a job in trumpeter Ed Nuccilli’s orchestra. Nuccilli fired Leon soon after because the saxophonist refused to wear polished black shoes like his band-mates. You said the saxophonist ended up with a job in an auto factory where he had to wear a uniform.

Years ago, when I interviewed musicians for an article about your close friend bar owner Bert Dearing Jr. you recalled Dearing allowing you to run his bar for a month. At the time, you pleaded with Dearing to hire some national acts. Dearing explained why he could not. You persisted. Dearing gave you the keys to the bar. Right away, you hired a bunch of A-list jazz musicians and bands. After each show, you could not pay them. The bar lost money, and you never worked for Dearing again, but you guys remained friend.

You have always treated me respectfully. I thank you for that. That's why whenever you perform in Detroit I try to support you. I was willing to brave to rain Saturday evening to hear you. My wife refused to let out the house. She said our winter property tax bill is due soon, and I could not afford to miss work because I have a bad cold from standing outside the Dirty Dog while it rained. Instead of attending your sets, I went to the after Thanksgiving day sale at Macys. Marcus the next you have a gig at the Dirty Dog I promise I will be the first to make reservations.

Charles L. Latimer

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Monk welcome to my blog. I am thrilled you could visit on such short notice. Where is Nellie? She woke up sick. She decided to stayed home. Yesterday she baked this sweet potato pie for you. She wanted to deliver it herself. She never visit someone empty handed. Thank you. Give me your coat. Make yourself comfortable. Sure, you can keep your hat on. I will be right back. I want to get a pie cutter and two forks so we can eat the pie before it gets cold.

Do you want something to drink? I have Aquafina bottled spring water, Motts apple juice, Silk’s vanilla favored soymilk, and a liter diet Mountain Dew. If I had known Nellie planned to send a pie, I would have purchased a pint of Soy Delicious soy ice cream.

Do you want a small slice or a big one? You do not want any right now. That is fine, but do not wait too long. The pie maybe gone before we finished talking. Sweet potato pie is my favorite, by the way.

Who is that I have playing? That’s Seal’s new album “Seal Soul”. I got the album Friday at Borders Books in Grosse Pointe, MI. Seal is a good singer. The album is a remake of some classic Soul songs such as “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long“, “It’s a Man’s World”, and “It’s Alright”. I love the album.

Yes, It is okay if you want to dance. When I first hear “Seal Soul”, I wanted to dance as well, but I did not because I have no rhythm. Sure, go ahead laugh I am telling you the truth. What else have I listened to lately?

Some of your albums. Last Sunday, I listened to Thelonious Monk the Complete Prestige Recordings. I bought the box set years ago, but Sunday was the first time I listened to it. Why did I wait so long? Honestly, Monk I do not know. I had fun listening to the three discs, particularly the disc where you played with Coleman Hawkins and Sonny Rollins.

I damn near worn a hole in disc one. I have listened to a “Little Rootie Tootie” so many times I can recite the chord changes in my sleep. In the liner notes, I read you wrote a “Little Rootie Tootie” for drummer TS Monk, your son. In 2004, I interviewed him. The Metrotimes, a weekly newspaper in Detroit, published the article. Monkin’ Around was the headline.

TS corrected misconceptions I had about you. Most of the books written about your life and music were inaccurate, he said. He said you were a devoted husband and great dad. You encourage TS when he wanted to become a jazz drummer. You called in a favor. You had drummer Art Blakey give TS a set of drums and free lessons.

TS also defended you. He told me you were not distant or eccentric. If people wanted to contact you, they could have found your number in the phonebook. Monk If you want to read the article, I will email it to you.

I watched videos of you posted on YouTube. I posted three of them on this blog page. Look to your left you will see them. When I watched the videos my ears danced, and I followed the movement of your hand left hand as if hypnotized.

I wonder what you thought about when tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse soloed on Lu LU is Back in Town. You stepped away from the piano, and you twirled. I became a little woozy watching you. The same day, I listened to three of my favorite Monk albums “Solo Monk”, “Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington” and the “Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two at the Blackhawk”.

“Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington” was the first time I heard you play another musician’s music. Did Ellington encourage you to record his material? Once you completed the album, did Ellington give you feedback?

“Solo Monk”. Do you remember that album? On the cover was an illustration of you dressed in a brown bomber jacket, a white silk scarf flung around your neck, and a leather aviator’s hat with goggles. I imagined you made “Solo Monk” in Pannonica de Koenigswarter’s mansion you nicknamed the cathouse because she owned 140 cats. I envisioned you locked in a room while you composed jewels such as Dianh, Ruby, My Dear, Ask Me Now, and I Surrendered, Dear.

Monk would you mind if I turned off “Seal Soul”, and play Solo Monk? The ballad Rudy, My Dear is your best love song. Last week, I listened to your live date the Thelonious Monk Quartet Plus Two at the Blackhawk”.

The audience was inattentive. That upset me. You played some of your best material that night “Epistrophy”, ‘Evidence”, and ‘Round Midnight. The people at the club yapped nonstop. Monk, I wanted to jump inside the album and shout: “Will you people please shut up. Don’t you realize the high priest of be bop is on stage, and you all are ignoring him like a panhandler”.

Monk, I will be right back. My phone is ringing; I have to answer it.

Monk it is Nellie. She wants to know when you will be home. Okay, I will tell her you will be leaving soon. She wants you to stop at the drugs store, and get her some Night Quill and a quart of orange juice.

I did not realize we have talked so long. I better let you go. I forgot to thank Nellie for the pie. Tell her I hope she feels better soon, and the next time you visit, she will come too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Drummer Leonard King Dear Lyman Woodard,

I left after the first set of your CD release party at Cliff Bells. The club got too noisy. I wondered if the crowd came to hear you play, or just to hangout on a Saturday night. A hairless man nudged me. He said I blocked his wife’s view. If he had touched me twenty years ago, I would have punched him. At 41, I am, more tolerant. I paid the $7.00 cover charge to hear you not to fight. Lyman, after he nudged me he offered to by me a drink, which puzzled me. I refused his offer. Maybe that was his way of apologizing. Then he stuck up a conversation. I indulged him. Lyman I am not writing you to discuss that incident. I just need to get that off my chest first. I could not tell my wife because when I got home, she was asleep.

Lyman the party was different than I expected. I thought you were only supposed to play with drummer Leonard King and guitarist Ron English. I was surprised to see organist Gerard Gibbs, trumpeter Dwight Adams, saxophonist Ju Ju Johnson, trombonist Steve Hunter and percussionist Jerry LeDuff. While they played, you set alone. You smoked and drank.

King was the master of ceremony. The drummer was longwinded, and he spent too much time reminiscing. I almost heckled him. I came to hear Lyman not King's stories about the old days. When the drummer finally stopped, the ensemble played a fine version of your composition “Gospel Soul Shouting”.

I enjoy listening to Gibbs play the organ. It is his natural habitat. Gibbs is on par with such great organists as Joey Defrancesco, Dr. Lonnie Smith and Richard “Groove” Holmes. If that comparison is hard to believe checkout Gibbs two albums “To Be and Not To Hammond B3, Livin’ and Learnin’, and Gibb’s solos on saxophonist James Carter’s live albums “Live at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge” and “Out of Nowhere”.

As a pianist, however, Gibbs reaches way beyond his competence level. I respect his ambition. Gibbs would be a solid pianists if he just played the lines, and stopped trying to emulate pianist DD Jackson and Craig Taborn. The tricks they do on the piano come naturally. They are Jame Carter's equals.

Of course, Gibbs never passes on an opportunity to showoff. I realize showboating is part of his DNA. Saturday night, however, his showboating worked. Gibbs sounded self-assured and polished.

Lyman on, "De’ja' vu," another of your originals, tenor saxophonist Ju Ju Johnson and trumpeter Dwight Adams captured and held the crowd attention. Johnson and Adams are journeymen swingers, indeed. I wondered if Johnson plays regularly around town. I used to see him often at the Wednesday night jam session at Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. Saturday night was the first time I experienced him as part of an ensemble.

In Michigan, Adams is the go to trumpeter. The man has played on most of James Carter's albums, and has toured with Motown great Stevie Wonder. Currently, Adams is unsigned. Signing him, should be some jazz record label New Year resolution. Adams is to self-effacing, but many regard him as a premier trumpeter. Years ago, I talked with the late pianist John Hicks after a set at the Harlequin Cafe'(the jazz club and restaurant is closed). Hicks said he did a session with Adams. Hicks described Adams as a monster on the trumpeter.

Honestly, Lyman your event felt more like a get together. That bothered me. During the first set, why did you only played one song “Satin Doll”? I know you are retired. You live in Owasso, Mi. That's a long way to drive for one tune. I planned to hear both sets, but I figured the second one would be the same so I split.

Having the album release party at Cliff Bells was a mistake. Either Bert's Market Place or Baker's Keyboard Lounge would have been a better choice. Those jazz clubs attract people who actually like jazz. On the surface, Cliff Bells appears to be a wonderful spot to hear jazz. However, the club is a haven for rude "socializers".

At one point, I could barely hear the band. I experienced the same distractions last Saturday when I attended vocalist Joan Belgrave's set. Management should discourage people from yapping while a band or vocalist perform because it is discourteous

Listening to Gibbs, Adams and Johnson were the highlights. They kept the party from being a flop. Overall, the party was okay. I wanted to hear more of you.
Charles L. Latimer

Monday, November 17, 2008


Jazz vocalist Joan BelgraveDear Joan Belgrave,

I want to explain why I left Cliff Bell’s (the renovated jazz club in downtown Detroit one block south of the Fox Theater) last night after your first set. For the record, it had nothing to do with your performance. You have a lovely voice, indeed. I first heard you sing at the 2007 Detroit International Jazz Festival. Your husband trumpeter Marcus Belgrave invited you to join the band. When you sang the atmosphere on the bandstand changed. The band was boiling over. You made the band simmer. Your hubby was amazed.

Saturday I planned to see the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace. I changed my plans when I found out you were performing. I arrived at the club in time to catch your band bassist Marion Hayden, pianist Duncan McMillan, drummer Andre Wright and tenor saxophonist Allan Barnes warming up the stage. I figured I would experience a night of good music, but I could not concentrate.

The audience was noisy. Especially, the couple seated to my left, and the perfumed women behind me smoking. The cigarette smoke turned my eyes red, and made my chest hurt. I moved twice, but not far enough. I could barely hear you sing. I was busy coughing and rubbing my eyes.

What snippets of your performance I heard I liked. You are different from most jazz vocalists I have experienced. You sing more than jazz standards. You mix things up. You sang an obscure Billie Holiday song. Then you followed up with the song Grandma’s Hands” popularized by Bill Withers. Mrs. Belgrave did you hear the talkers? Did you want to confront them?. I could not tell if they upset you. You were so poised.

Mrs. Belgrave, I should have confront the talkers, and then demanded a refund. I did neither. I left instead. Driving home, I wondered if the club would lose business if they band smoking and talking while the musicians perform. I know Cliff Bell’s is a bar. Some people, however, actually go there to hear live music, and they should be able to without distractions . I hope the next time you perform at a local jazz club the audience will be attentive.

--Charles L. Latimer

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Dear Lafayette Gilchrist,

I want to share with you a debate I had with my friend Omar (by the way that is not his real name). I wrote a blog in September praising saxophonist David Sandborn’s new album Here & Gone. I wrote that Sandborn had mastered saxophonist Hank Crawford’s style. My observation upset Omar. Omar said Sandborn is a thief, and he profited from copying Crawford.

I disagreed. Sandborn has always acknowledged Crawford was his chief influence. I told Omar it is tough for musicians to stop playing like the musicians who influenced them. Many alto saxophonists copied Charlie Parker. I cited saxophonist Ornette Coleman as an example. To this day, Coleman still sounds like Parker, and trumpeter Wallace Roney has profited from blowing like Miles Davis. Omar and I could not see eye to eye on the matter. We decided to stop debating.

Lafayette, last year, I blogged that you sound like the late pianist Don Pullen, and Omar agreed after he listened to your solos on saxophonist David Murray’s album Scared Grounds. However, on Soul Progressin’, your new album, you have found your voice.

I noticed immediately your style changed. On the Music According to Lafayette Gilchrist (2004), Toward the Shining Path (2005) and Three (2007), you explored every inch and crevice of the piano, and bunched together many notes. That approach worked. On Soul Progressin’, you came across as a selfless front man. Your playing was precise, and you spaced out the notes you played, while encouraging your band-mates to fill up in the space.

You wanted your sidemen to get all the attention. Each of the seven tracks on Soul Progressin’ sounds as though you wrote one song for each member. Soul Progressin’ served as their official coming out party. You essentially put bass clarinetist John Dierker, tenor saxophonist Gregory L. Thompkins, alto saxophonist Gabriel Ware, trumpeters Mike Cerri and Freddy Dunn, bassist Anthony “Blue” Jenkins and drummer Nathan Reynolds in an environment where they could be uninhabited. You succeeded big time.

After I listened to Soul Progressin’, I wonder if those musicians earned their stripes playing in big bands, or if they were your friends from your hometown, Baltimore. Soul Progressin’ has a big band feel especially on cuts such as Detective’s Tip, Uncrowned, and Many Exits No Doors. The little tricks you did at the end of Detective’s Tip made the hair on my forearms, neck, knuckles and lower back dance.

Lafayette I plan to tell Omar to buy Soul Progressin’. I want to know if he also feels you have shaken your Don Pullen influence.

-Charles L. Latimer

Saturday, November 8, 2008


Guitarist Earl Klugh Dear Earl,

Yesterday, I made a tough decision. Saxophonist Joe Lovano performed at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Pianist Jason Moran opened for him, and bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding is a member of Lovano's quintet. I missed her set at the 2008 Detroit International Jazz Festival. I wanted to hear her. (In September, Jazz Times magazine published an article about her success). Drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts played at the Jazz Café’. I had to choose which concert to attend. I narrowed my choice down to your performance at Orchestra Hall and Lovano’s. Watts will play two sets tonight. If I am up to it, I can catch either the 10:00pm set or the second at 12:00am. Yesterday I mulled over which concert to attend. At 5:00pm, I finally decided to catch your set.

I purchased your new album Spice of Life last month, and I enjoyed every inch of it. Spice of Life was your first studio album in three years. "Naked Guitar" (2005) was your last album. I wondered why you stayed away so long. Before the intermission, you explained you had a beef with the brass at Warner Bros Records, which delayed the projects you had planned.

This morning I played the Spice of Life while I tidied up my home office. The music soothed me. In 2003, I took an oath. I promised myself I would be more receptive to smooth jazz. My feelings about that music changed that year after I heard saxophonist Everette Harp and keyboardist Bobby Lyle at the Idlewild Jazz Festival.

Both were members of the new Jazz Crusaders. The leader, trombonist Wayne Henderson, was the only original member. I recall Henderson strolled onto the bandstand. He wore a checker apron and a chef hat. He looked ridiculous. I was puzzled. I could not tell if Henderson was cooking barbecue before the Crusaders set started, and forgot to change. Harp and Lyle swung, and that surprised me.

Earl, I have to level with you. I never mentioned the oath to my jazz friends. You have to understand, my friends are “jazz purist,” and they hate smooth jazz. I did too, but not anymore. Smooth jazz musicians work just as hard as the musicians who prefer to play be bop, hard bop, acid jazz and free jazz. Smooth jazz artists also have loyal fans.

I attended your concert, and I enjoyed every song you played. I bet the audience awoke this morning with sore necks. They bobbed their heads nonstop for two solid hours. Earl, when you performed "Canadian Sunset" I wanted to remove my loafers, and waltz up and down the isle. On “Driftin"—the fifth song on the Spice of Life—I wanted to snuggle with the blonde-haired lady in the black evening dress with an ornate silk scarf covering her neck seated to my right, but I did not. It would have been inappropriate.

Earl, your playing was soothing and hypnotic. The devotion you showed your band-mates keyboardists Al Duncan and David Spradley, drummer Ron Otis, saxophonist Lenny Price, and bassist Al Turner impressed me.

You told the audience about their individual accomplishments, and you plugged their future projects. You were gracious; you had stagecraft; you shared the spotlight as well. That was thoughtful, indeed.

You cruised through the performance. Price and Spardley showboated some, but the audience ate it up. They cheered when Price ( a native of Inkster, MI) sashayed from the south end of the stage to the north end during his solo on "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes". When Price dropped to his knees like the godfather of soul James Brown the audience went nuts —what showmanship I thought Price had.

I was surprised when you said Spardley was a ex-member of the Parliament Funkadelic, and he wrote "Atomic Dog," one of the Funkadelic’s smash hits. Spardley looks like a soccer-dad not the kind of fellow who played in such an outlandish funk band. When he soloed, however, it was obvious he made his bones in such a band. Earl, I am glad I chose you. I wondered, however, if the people who attended saxophonist Joe Lovano’s concert had as much fun as the folks at your show.

--Charles L. Latimer

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Bandleader and Saxophonist Oliver NelsonDear Oliver Nelson,

Monday I received The Blues and the Abstract Truth Take 2. Pianist Bill Cunliffe recorded the album. This was the first time I heard him. The liner notes discussed why Cunliffe made the album, but offered little about the pianist career. So, I googled him.

I discovered the pianist was born in Andover, Mass. He attended Duke University, and studied with pianist Mary Lou Williams. In 1989, he won the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Pianist Award. He toured with the Buddy Rick Big Band, and performed with Frank Sinatra. Blue and the Abstract Truth Take 2 is Cunliffe’s 14th album. After I read about Cunliffe, I did some background work on you.

I learned your brother played with trumpeter Cootie Williams. Your sister was a pianist, and you started on the sax at 11. You made six albums for Prestige. Then your classic Blues and the Abstract Truth for Impulse Records. That album increased your stock. Oliver I have to be honest. I only own two of your 18 albums Blues and the Abstract Truth, and Screamin’ the Blues, which made you 48 years ago.

You played the tenor and alto; Eric Dolphy played alto and the bass clarinet; Roy Haynes worked the drums. I bet you guys were smoking so much the neighbors called the fire department. Oliver do you know Cunliffe? Have any of your peers heard him? If not, you should get a copy of Take 2, and encourage your friends to do likewise. Cunliffe is a straight to the point pianist. As a leader, the man runs a tight ship. He kept his band on course.

Playing the songs from the original Blues and the Abstract was a huge endeavor, but Cunliffe succeeded. He made a few changes. He used a trombonist instead of a bass clarinetist. He tacked on two originals Port Authority and Mary Lou’s Blues. I wonder if your spirit was at the session coaching the band. They sounded so inspired Oliver when you buy the Take 2 pay close attention to Cunliffe’s take of Stolen Moments, and Hoe Down.

On Stolen Moments, trombonist Andy Marten and alto saxophonist Jeff Clayton cruise throughout their solos. On Hoe Down, Cunliffe, and trumpeter Terrell Stafford raced through the changes like competing in a triathlon. Oliver, I really enjoyed Blues and the Abstract Truth Take 2. I believe you will as well.
--Charles L. Latimer

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Mr. Rollins, please forgive me. I planned to blog about your new album Road Shows Vol. 1 last week when Doxy Records sent it to me, and after I'd listened to the album twice. But I got sidetracked. I purchased a book titled Three Wish an Intimate Look at Jazz Greats written by Pannonica de Koeningswarter. Nica, as she was known among jazz musicians who she befriended, book is loaded with photos she snapped of your peers having a good time at her house. (Thelonious Monk named Nica's pad the Cathouse because, I'm sure you already know, she owned 144 cats).

Nica's book included a few black and white photos of you. On one you’re shaved, wore a black cowboy hat. She snapped a photo of you and Thelonius Monk. You guys looked youthful. Monk was seated at a piano, and you set on a sofa nestling your tenor sax. It looked as if you were conversing with it .

I often wondered about Nica's infatuation with jazz musicians. Her granddaughter, Nadine de Koenigswarter wrote the introduction to Three Wishes. She offered some basic biographical information, but nothing any jazz enthusiast couldn't track down on the Internet. From the introduction, I gathered Nica was a bit eccentric.

Mr Rollins, let me stop yapping about Three Wishes. The book just made me feel good, and the Road Shows Vol. 1 did too. The time I alloted to blog about your album I used to write Nica a letter, expressing how Three Wishes touched me.

Mr. Rollins I listened to Road Shows Vol. 1 at least five times so far. I never rely on my first impression. I play albums over and over. I dug the Road Shows Vol. more than Without a Song: The 9/11 Concert (2005). You used most of the personnel from that date trombonist Clifton Anderson (who produced the Road Shows Vol. 1), guitarist Bobby Broom, percussionist Kimati Dinizulu, and pianist Stephen Scott.

On More Than You Know, and Tenor Madness you were vigorous as if you had something to prove. On your last live album your band shouldered the workload, particularly pianist Stephen Scott. Scott fingers raced across the keys a la pianist Bud Powell. On the Road Shows Vol. 1, you handled the manual labor.

You navigated your way through Blossom like a museum curator, proving that you're still a champion improviser.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Charles Mingus and Pannonica de Koenigswarter
Dear Nica,

I’m Charles L. Latimer a jazz blogger and journalist based in Detroit, MI. Yesterday I purchased a copy of your book Three Wishes an Intimate Look at Jazz Greats from Barnes and Noble in Grosse Pointe, MI. I read the book today. What I novel idea to ask jazz greats such as Thelonius Monk, Barry Harris, Anita O’Day, Coleman Hawkins, and many others what would they ask for if granted three wishes.
You befriended a lot of jazz musicians. They treated you like their little sister, especially Monk who you helped when his mental state worsened, and he became reclusive. You treated musicians like human beings not commodities. Monk named your pad the Cathouse because jazz musicians congregated there, and you actually owned 144 cats.

Did you name each cat after a jazz musician? If I owned a male cat I’d name it Mingus, and a feline Mary Lou. Those are catchy names I think. I want a cat, but my wife doesn’t. She loves dogs. I’m the opposite. So we’re at an impasse.

Jazz musicians hung out at the Cathouse. You snapped photos of them. It appeared to be a haven where they could unwind. I wished I could’ve been there when you photographed drummer Roy Brooks sitting at the drums in a soft leather jacket sporting a scruffy bread, and saxophonist Charlie Rouse wearing a fur coat and matching hat standing next to pianist Sonny Clark who look like a pimp down on his luck, and pianist Barry Harris snuggled up with one of your cats. The photos were just as compelling as the musician’s answers to your question.

The musicians were candid. The consensus was steady work, good health and a livable income. Duke Ellington elegantly said: “My wishes are very simple. I just want nothing but the best”. Pianist Barry Harris wanted a room with a Steinway and a good record player, where he could be alone with all the Charlie Parker and Bud Powell records. Drummer Roy Brooks wished for prosperity, happiness and three more wishes.

Some musicians were longwinded. Others were direct. After reading Three Wishes, I felt as if I personally knew each musician. Nica, your life was a dream surrounded by musicians who cherished you.

I wondered why you left Charlie Parker out. Back then, maybe Parker was in bad shape. Did you ask Bird for his three wishes? I imagined he would've answered he wanted to live a clean life.

A biographer should’ve written about your life, Nica, explaining your affinity for jazz, and why you befriended jazz musicians. I bet you had some great stories to tell. Your life seemed like an endless jam session.

Three Wishes inspired me to give you my wish list. First, the local jazz musicians I interviewed would benefit from the articles I write about their lives,
Secondly, God would allow the late pianists Teddy Harris and Harold McKinney to return to Detroit so they could resume mentoring the next generation of jazz musicians.
Lastly, I want to learn how to play the piano like Craig Taborn and Cyrus Chestnut.

--Charles L. Latimer

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Pianist Dave Brubeck Pianist Dave Brubeck opened the Bank of America Paradise Jazz Series 2008-2009 Thursday night at Orchestra Hall. Brubeck, 88, ambled onto the stage.He wore a fitted black tuxedo, and his hair was a little tousled. Before he made it to the piano, the capacity crowd gave him a lengthy ovation. When they settled down, he introduced the band. Then he removed one of the seat cushions from the chair planted at the piano. He dug into the piano like a hungry man at the dinner table.

He opened with two slow-tempo tunes from his current album 50 years of Dave Brubeck Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival 1957-2007. I figured that the pianist would cruise through the evening. I was wrong. On the third tune, Brubeck called an up-tempo ditty that had a flunky and bluesy feel. At that point, alto saxophonist Bobby Millitello took over.

The first set, Millitello carried the bulk of the workload. Much like Brubeck’s running buddy of the 50’s alto saxophonist Paul Desmond, Millitello played duets with himself, and played bluesy and fast tempo tunes proficiently. Millitello bent forward when he soloed as if trying to pour the music out his horn. On Brubeck’s, Koto’s Song, It seemed that Millitello played two flutes simultaneously.

The quartet performed five songs. Then they took a coffee break. Not that they needed one, but audience needed a moment to catch their breath. It was mostly seniors in attendance. They were hyped like they were at a hip hop concert.

The second set was the best. The some in the audience shouted songs they wanted Brubeck to play. Two perfumed elder ladies seated in front of me bobbed their heads like they were at a heavy metal concert when Brubeck played Paul Desmond’s classic Take Five. At one point, I thought the old dames were going dance up and down the isles.

Millitello controlled the first set, and drummer Randy Jones the second. Jones took a lengthy and well crafted solo on Take Five. He had fragments of the melody flying about like they were coming from a snow blower. The capacity crowd roared when he finished.

As for Brucbeck, he never overexerted himself. He played some pretty preludes, but he delegated the bulk of the workload to Millitello and Jones. The pianist kept pace with his band-mates. From time to time, he tried to trip them up by playing a few extra chords, but they weren’t fooled by the pianist antics.

Brubeck put on a fun show, indeed. He was spunky, humorous, and charming. He ribbed hecklers who interrupted him while he introduced tunes, and he poked fun at his band-mates, particularly Millitello. The pianist was hospitable, treating the audience like guests at a Brubeck family cookout.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


It’s rare that I blog about a recording after only listening to it once. I’m careful never to rush to judgment. I want to offer a thorough critique, not just a knee-jerk reaction. Tim, your latest album One For Shirley-dedicated to your mentor the late organist Shirley Scott-grabbed my attention immediately. I purchased it yesterday at Street Corner Music in Beverly Hills, MI, and I played it this morning. I bobbed head, patted my feet, and snapped my fingers for 77.41 minutes straight, the length of this album.

Man, One for Shirley is a fabulous tribute album. If Scott were alive she would be proud. Not because you honored her. Mostly because of the groomed jazz musician you’ve become, which I’m sure Scott nurtured those years you played with her.

It’s nice to know there are still jazz musicians who’re sticklers about details, and who wouldn’t dare release an album until every inch of it is finely tuned. I knew you were a special when I first heard you at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI at the Blues, Roots, Hunks and Moans concert blowing in bassist Christian McBride’s band, which motivated me purchase A Cool Blue two (1995) and Gentle Warrior (1997) superb Criss Cross Jazz released in .

I liked your command of the tenor saxophone. I also liked your spiffy demeanor. That concert happened awhile back. When I listened to your new album it was evident that you’re still meticulous. I wondered what you were up to since you released Jazz Is (2002).

After listening to One for Shirley, I figured you’d spent the last six years crafting this album because every each of it is chiseled and polished. You assembled a strong supporting cast trumpeter Terell Stafford, organist Pat Bianchi, drummer Byron Landham and percussionist Daniel G. Sadownick. They filled every each of the space you carved out for them.

Bianchi was a good choice to play the organ. His aggressive and churchy nature is akin to how Scott once wailed away. Where did you find Bianchi? On the closer, Yours Is My Heart Alone he sounded as if Scott attended the recording session and coached him.

As a rule, when I blog about a recording, I never rely on my first impression. I listen to an album over and over until I’m absolutely sure I either love it or I hate it. That changed this morning when I played One For Shirley. This album exicted. You really captured Scott. She could make you dance and cry in the same breath. This album is a fitting gesture of appreciation to the lady who taught you to swing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Earl, I must apology for blogging about your latest album The Spice of Life months after Koch Records released it. I asked a salesperson at Street Corner Record where I purchased it if he’d listened to the album, or heard any reviews. He endorsed it, commenting that it’s eclectic. Shortly, after I bought The Spice of Life I planned to review it, but I got sidetracked. Man, I’ve been busy writing articles and concert reviews.

I had to perform major surgery on a piece I wrote about alto saxophonist Larry Smith’s comeback after being away from the jazz scene for five years because he suffered two strokes. My editor disliked my first draft. So I rewrote it. Are you hip to Smith? I’m certain you are. To his fans and peers, Smith is be bop pioneer saxophonist Charlie Parker’s heir apparent. Man, what a compliment.

Anyway, Earl, I’m finally ready to offer may take of The Spice of Life, your 31st album. Congratulation! Before I start, I have to level with you. I’m not what you may consider a Smooth Jazz enthusiast, although I like saxophonist Randy Scott, keyboardist Al McKenzie and flutist Alexander Zonjic.

Lately, I’ve been more receptive to Smooth Jazz. At heart, I’m still a red blooded jazz purist, but I started paying more attention to Smooth jazz after I heard saxophonist Everett Harp and keyboardist Bobby Lyle years ago at the Idlewild Jazz Festival.

I never knew Smooth jazz musicians could swing so hard. I was pleasantly shocked. Earl, forgive me for not getting to the point. I thoroughly enjoyed The Spice of Life. The album is mostly cuddling music, music that’ll unwind you.

Don’t mistake my description of this album the wrong way. I’m not attempting to tacitly tag your album elevator music. That’s not what I’m trying to convey. The album is uncomplicated, and easy listening. At certain points of this album, however, I felt the urge to snap my fingers and pat my feet. Mostly I was completely relaxed like I slipped on a warm robe.

Earl, I disagree with the salesperson assessment that the album is eclectic. You established a comfortable groove, and stayed on course. I looking forward to experiencing you live November 7th at Orchestra Hall.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Photo by W. Kim Heron Dear Harold McKinney,

I have some exciting news to share with you, Teddy Harris, Roy Brooks, and Donald Walden, the Detroit jazz masters who passed way, and have joined you in that special corner of heaven God reserved for Detroit jazz musicians. Man, I can only imagine the nightly jam sessions you guys have. By the way, how is Dr. Harris doing? Has the pianist assembled a big band akin to his New Breed Be Bop Orchestra? That orchestra was a boot camp and finishing school for budding jazz musicians who wanted to learn how to swing.

Is Roy Brooks taking his medication daily, and are his chops strong again? I bet in the drummer’s spare time he teaches the angels up there how to swing. What about saxophonist Donald Walden. How is he adjusting? At the 29th Detroit International Jazz Festival bassist Marion Hayden-you remember Hayden the first lady of Detroit jazz, and the cofounder of the quintet Straight Ahead—organized a tribute concert for Walden. Damn near every student or alumni of Walden’s bands The Detroit Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Works, and Free Radicals participated.

Harold how have you been? I really miss those Thursday evening jazz workshops you conducted at the SergeNti?? Ballroom on Woodard Ave. (Bill Foster, the concert promoter who held jazz concerts there, moved out of the building a year or so after you passed. Currently the place is a mom and pop Hip Hop clothing store). A lot of inspiring jazz pianist and vocalists benefited from your knowledge. Harold, I wished that you and Harris had trained successors to take over your workshop, and Harris’ Orchestra. But I guess you guys couldn’t do it all. Or maybe no one stepped up because they never thought you and Harris would ever pass away someday.

I don’t know if you guys receive updates regularly about the Detroit’s jazz scene. Over the past few years, the jazz scene has experienced what I call a youth movement. Youngsters such as vocalist Jesse Palter, saxophonist De’Sean Jones and drummer Thaddeus Dixon have formed bands without serving an apprenticeship in groups such as the New Breed Be Bop Society Orchestra, and Walden’s Detroit Jazz Orchestra. The youngsters are successful.

Also, there’re new jazz venues popping up every where such as Dirty Dog, and Jazz at the Max inside of Orchestra Hall, and a jazz café’ in the basement of The Music Hall. The latter showcases mostly national jazz acts whereas the Dirty Dog employs mostly locals. Harold I’m talking your ears off, and have yet to share the good news.

A few Saturdays ago, I went to Bert’s Market Place to her Larry Smith. The alto saxophonist recovered from the two strokes he had in 2003. Drummer George Davison was in Smith’s rhythm section. After the first set, Davison told me he’s finishing up a new album—his first as a leader—with original compositions he wrote for you, Harris, Brooks, and Walden.

Davison founded financing. The album will be released next year. So that’s the news I wanted to share. This kind of homage to you guys is overdue. Maybe next someone will start a petition to have you guys birthdays national holidays. It could be called Detroit’s Masters Day. That’s just a thought.

Charles L. Latimer

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Saturday evening I attended the Wayne Shorter concert at Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor, MI. The concert opened the University Music Society 2008-2009 jazz concert series. Yesterday, I decided to skip the concert because I dislike Shorter's post-Mile Davis work, but I had a change of heart. It was a chance to hear the man who made a string of classic jazz albums decades ago for Blue Note Records such as JuJu and Speak No Evil just to name a few.

I hoped Shorter would play a few of those hard bop tunes he wrote as a sideman for the Jazz Messengers, and the Mile Davis quintet, but the saxophonist wasn’t in a nostalgic mood. He played material I was unfamiliar with. Imani Winds, a chamber music quartet, performed first. I'm not hip to chamber music.

That disqualifies me from critiquing Imani Winds’ performance. I will say, however, the audience enjoyed the quartet’s brief set. Shortly after Imani Winds exited the stage, Shorter lumbered out followed by pianist Danilo Perez, drummer Brain Blade and bassist John Patitucci. Shorter never introduced his sidemen or the music they played. His aloofness bothered me. I felt as if I’d crashed an invitation only party.

Shorter’s quartet performed roughly an hour without coming up for air. One composition overlapped the next. The music was undecipherable. I had to be the only person in the auditorium who disliked Shorter’s performance because when the quartet finally came up for air, the capacity crowd cheered. Then they begged for an encore, and Shorter obliged.

Monday, September 22, 2008


For years, Kenny, I’ve maintained that in order to appreciate what an exceptional musician you are, you have to be experienced live. To me, your albums have always been hit or miss. You’ve never put out a memorable album (That’s just my opinion. I’ve sure your fans will think I’m mean and nuts for saying that). On the other hand, your live performances that I’ve attended have been unforgettable.

So, Kenny I was excited when Mack Avenue Records sent me an advanced copy of your album Sketches of MD Live at the Iridium featuring Pharoah Sanders. The first time I listened to it a liked the album immediately.

On the opener The Ring, which ran over 14 minutes, you and Sanders tossed the notes and chords back and forth like a dad playing catch with his son. Sanders blew with the strength of a power-lifter, and pianist Benito Gonzalez did everything humanly possible to the piano save for disassembling it, and resembling it string by string. Kenny, you’ve always had an affinity for demonstrative piano players.

On the next number Intro to Africa, Sanders and Gonzalez were still fired up. On Sketches of MD, Sanders had the guys playing at his level.

Kenny, I know I said I dug the album right away, but after listening to it some more over the weekend I realized I rushed to judgment. After The Ring and Intro to Africa, the album veered off course, and never founded its way back home.

The futuristic Wayne’s Thang which I’m assuming to you wrote for saxophonist Wayne Shorter, is too eerie and weird for my taste. I’m not sure what you wanted to convey. And that gizmo you attached to your horn annoyed me.

The closer, Happy People, is a tune you normally end your shows with. On this release, it’s out of place. Frankly, you should’ve left Happy People off the album. It came across as if you begging to audience participate when they just wanted to leave. I give Sketches of MD thumbs down.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Ear Food. What a catchy title, Roy. If I have my facts right, pianist Cedar Walton wrote a tune titled Ear Food. I’ll double check that, and get back to you. I’m certain your spin on Ear Food will make the cut on many jazz critics and journalist's best jazz albums of 2008 list. It will definitely be on my list.

I purchased Ear Food right after I heard you perform recently at the 29th Detroit International Jazz Festival. I listened to Strasbourg/St. Denis over and over. For weeks now, the melody pops up in my hears unannounced, and I'll start humming the tune. I’m serious about that, Roy. I’m totally addicted. By the way, where did you find Clayton? He’s a sensitive player and accompanist.

On Mr. Clean and Bring it On Home to Me, Clayton reminded me of pianist Joe Sample during his heyday with the Jazz Crusaders. (If Clayton reads this blog I hope he takes the comparison I made as a compliment).

Ear Food wasn’t the kind of album stuck in one gear. You mixed things up. You played an up tempo tunes. Next you, segued into ballads, giving listeners a chance to catch their breath. Brown and Joy Is Sorrow Unmasked were as a warm blanket.

Eight years ago, I attended your gig at the Serengeti Ballroom on Woodward Ave, in Detroit, Mi. The place was packed. You gave the people more than their money's worth. The same is true with Ear Food. Oh, by the way, I just remembered why I showed up late. I was at the Mack Avenue Records Pyramid Stage listening to drummer Gerald Cleaver’s quintet.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


At Bert’s Marketplace, a jazz club in Detroit's Eastern Market district, Saturday night alto saxophonist Larry Smith was visibly shaken by the odd behavior of his longtime running buddy bassist Rodney Hicks. Saturday was Smith's second gig in five years. In 2003, a mild stroke sidelined him. His fans wondered if he’d recover. Smith did, and last weekend Smith returned to active duty.

The alto saxophonist was missed dearly. Fortunately, Smith left us with two fine albums Larry Smith & Company Live at the Slovak Philharmonic, and Estate'. I played those albums whenever I need an extra strength dose of Smith's alto medicine. I'm sure those albums kept me as well as other Larry Smith loyalists company until he got healthy. Five years is a long time to be away, but Saturday Smith sounded as if he spent that time practicing instead of rehabbing.

Known to his peers as be bop icon Charlie Parker’s heir apparent Smith's horn swore, cried, and swung. Smith climbed up and down the chord changes to the classics such as Seven Steps to Heaven, and he whisked through Estate’, a tone that's been a part of Smith's repertoire for decades. Sadly, Hicks messed up big time, which upset Smith.
For years, Hicks has been Smith’s bassist of choice. Hicks can walk the bass for miles. I watched the guy handle the huge instrument like it was a feather. But last night he could barely function. Last night it was unseasonably humid. When Hick showed up for work dressed in a black leather suit, a black turtleneck sweater, and his unkempt dreadlocks stuffed under a baseball cap made from African Kente cloth, Smith should’ve known mentally Hicks wasn’t right. Detroit is filled to capacity with great bass players. Hicks always stood out. It hurt to watch Hick embarrass himself.

Planted on a chair the entire first set, Hicks nodded off like a junkie. In fact, I wondered if Hicks had a rough day, and should’ve called in sick. After the first set, I asked drummer George Davidson, who was also mad at Hicks, if the bassist was took so medicine that made him woozy. Davidson flat out said Hicks was stoned. I never seen a Detroit jazz musician so stoned he couldn’t function.

I felt bad for Smith. After he closed the set, he unhooked his sax from its neck strap, lit a cigarette, and downed a Heineken. Davidson went outside to calm down. Hicks stayed on the bandstand. He wrestled with his instrument. When he finally managed to pack it, he told Smith goodbye. Then Hicks nearly toppled on the bandstand. Smith never chastised Hicks, but it’ll probably be the last time they perform together.

Monday, September 8, 2008


In early 2000, the organ trio organissimo became part of a mini-renaissance of bands that emerged on the Detroit, Mi jazz scene with catchy names such as Bop Cultural, and Urban Transport. The bands wrote and performed mostly original compositions, and were democratic as well. Each member had equal status. The bands developed a loyal following, but save for organissimo the other band were constantly changed personnel, and eventually split up, but organissimo thrived. They seemed to possess a special formula the other bands lacked.

I heard organissimo two years ago at the famous Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. The trio cast a spell on me I’ve been unable to break. For those who’ve never experienced the trio, here’ how you can tell when they’re about to cook like a family barbecue: Guitarist Joe Gloss shuts his eyes. Drummer Randy Marsh turns his cap backward, and Alfredson slips of his shoes.

Months after that gig at Baker’s, I interviewed Alfredson for an article the Metrotimes--a weekly newspaper in Detroit I’ve written for eleven years--published. I talked with Alfredson at his home in Lansing, Mi. The organist is soft spoken, and has the demeanor of an academic. If you encountered he say in a shopping mall you’d never surmise he’s one of the most soulful organ players working on this planet.

Alfredson and his wife gutted the kitchen, and was remolding it .The organist and I talked at his dinning room table. While I questioned him, his daughter, nicknamed Sweetie Pie, set in his lap, and when she became restless, she crawled under the table and tugged on her dad’s pant leg. Alfredson talked about his influences, (bands such as Weather Report and Genesis) why he dropped out of Michigan State University to play music full-time, and how he met Marsh and Gloss.

After the interview, Alfredson showed me his home recording studio in the basement. CD's lined the wall. He played several tracks from the Root Doctor’s album, a Rhythm and Blues band Alfredson plays in. He gave Gloss and Marsh’s telephone numbers, and days later I interviewed them.

I recently exchanged emails with Alfredson. He explained the concept of the trio’s new album, Groovadelphia, and he spent me an advanced cop. Like the organissimo previous offerings This is the Place and Waiting for the Boogaloo Sister, I like Groovadelphia immediately, and set up an email interview with. Alfredson. He discussed why trio stayed together, and why Groovadelphia is his favorite organissimo album.

organissimo have been together for eight years, and you guys sound more polished than ever. What is the secret to the trio's success?

We work hard. And we have a genuine love of playing music with each other. We have our spats now and again, but at the end of the day we really enjoy playing together and writing together. I also believe that we are just different enough from each other, as far as our tastes, that we compliment each other musically very well.
How is Groovadelphia different than organissimo's pervious recordings?
It is the first album with just the trio and no special guests. It was also recorded in a very "old school" way, with everyone playing in the same room together. We couldn't go back and fix mistakes, we just had to play and if we messed up, we'd start again. It is also very collaborative. Almost all the tunes are written by the three of us together.

What does Groovadelphia mean, and who came up with the title?

Groovadelphia is a tribute to Philadelphia, the jazz organ capitol of the world. We consider Philly our home away from home on the East Coast and we love the city, the people, and playing there. I think Randy came up with the name. We originally were thinking of doing a "suite", but it hasn't materialized yet. We might extend the idea over several records, kind of like the "Clap Yo Hands", "Stomp Yo Feets" motif across the first two albums.
What are some of the obstacles you guys encountered making Groovadelphia?

My schedule with Root Doctor has been extremely busy and our biggest obstacle was simply finding time to play and write. We also knew that we couldn't afford to spend as much money making this record as we did the first two, so we decided early on to let me try and track it myself. I have been interested in recording for as long as I've been playing music and really the two have always gone hand in hand for me but it was an enormous technical obstacle for me to track the entire record myself.
How did the trio overcome the obstacles?
We made good use of our downtime. We tried to have at least two rehearsals per month even if we had no gigs on the horizon. That way we'd stay tight and also have time to write together. And I had a lot of help on the technical side of things from my friend and Root Doctor band mate Greg Nagy and also from Glenn Brown, who engineered our first two CDs. And my wife is also extremely understanding! I had to kick her and my daughter out of the house while we tracked or else their footsteps would be heard from the 100 year old creaky floors above. My wife was even 9 months pregnant at the time! So she deserves a lot of accolades.

Six of the nine selections on Groovadelphia you co-wrote with Marsh and Gloss .Will you explain how you guys collaborate, and how important it is that each member shares the workload?

The writing process on my end usually begins with coming up with a fragment or sometimes an entire chord sequence and melody and then getting together with Joe and either fleshing out a melody if one doesn't exist or refining what's already there. Joe usually takes the ideas home and refines them and brings them back to me and we further refine them together. We then present the tunes at a rehearsal and Randy suggests rhythmic and arrangement ideas. Has there ever been a period when you guys contemplated splitting up?
No. We're having too much fun! What keeps organissimo focused and motivated?
We like writing music together, we like playing together, and we all have lofty goals for the group. We're confident that we have the right stuff to be on the world stage. We just need the right people to agree.

Were you guys able to spend more time polishing Groovadelphia because it was recorded in your home studio?

Yes and it was a real treat. We were able to take each song and really break it down to the essence of the tune and build it back up. We could record it, take it home for a day or two and listen, and then gain perspective on how to make it better. That's just not possible in a professional studio unless you have a lot of money.We also don't really have any egos and we share ideas between each other very openly. If a part isn't working, we'll say so and no offense is taken. We try to do everything in service of the music.
How do you rate yourself among other noted jazz organists?

That's a loaded question! I break jazz organists (and musicians in general) into two distinct camps: There are the stylists and there are the speakers. The stylists are those people that can play just like the past masters, but don't really have a personal voice. The speakers are those people that you know the instant you hear them because their sound on the instrument is unique to them. I hope that I am the latter.If I could compare myself to anyone, I hope it would be someone like Dr. Lonnie Smith. He isn't technically flashy, but he grooves incessantly and he tells a story with his music.
Is Groovadelphia your favorite organissimo album?

Yes, it is. I feel like I improve as a musician every day and I am not only proud of how I played on that record, but also the production and recording aspect of it. I am also proud of my band mates because I think they really stepped up and overcame the technical and personal challenges to make this record. Joe sounds better than ever on Groovadelphia and Randy is constantly listening and reacting. It's very special and rare to find musicians like Joe and Randy to play with and I think we all recognize that. That's probably the biggest reason why we're still together. Why mess with a good thing?It's also my favorite because I think it makes a strong statement as a whole. So many jazz records are just a collection of tunes where they state the head and then you get solo after solo after solo, they restate the head, and off to the next tune. There's no flow between the songs. My inspiration for this record was my love of bands like Weather Report and early Genesis and artists like Peter Gabriel, where you listen to their records and each song flows into the next and the record is a self-contained thing that beckons to be listened to from beginning to end.

How long did it take to make this album?

Pre-production took over a year. I literally recorded every rehearsal I could and experimented with mic placements, different mics, different mic preamps, acoustic treatments, drum heads, Leslies, etc for over a year. When it came time to actually track the record, it took about 6 days, two of which were rehearsal days.

Was there any drama among the trio while recording Groovadelphia?
Not really. We had some discussions on certain parts, but nothing out of the ordinary. No flared tempers or name-calling or anything newsworthy. We get along really well.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


David, I want to chat with you about your new blues album Here & Gone, but first I need to vent. It upsets me when armchair jazz experts accuse you of ripping off alto saxophonist Hank Crawford. Its obvious Crawford influenced you. You always acknowledged that. Years ago, for instance, when Crawford appeared on your weekly television show Night Music you said the alto saxophonist helped shape the way you play, and you’re forever indebted to him.

David, I hate to play the race card. I wondered if those armchair experts singled you out because you’re Caucasian. Have you ever felt that way? I suspect you hate that like you loath being labeled a smooth jazz musician. I wonder if those armchair pundits are familiar with your background. Also if the people quick to criticize you know how many African-American musicians you helped get national exposure via your weekly television program Night Music. They probably wouldn’t be so judgmental if they knew how much time you dedicated to helping other musician.

As a lad, you had Polio. To speed up your recovery, your doctor suggested you learn the saxophone. Doing so would help the muscles damaged by the disease redevelop. You followed the doctor’s recommendation, and you got hooked. At 14, you worked with blues legends Albert King and Little Milton. That impressed me. I doubt King and Milton would’ve hired you if they weren’t confident you had talent.

I've heard African-American accuse Caucasian musicians of stealing their style. That’s bull. You guys, I believe, appreciate the music created by African-American, and have helped keep it alive. I wonder if African-American saxophonists who sound like Charlie Parker are subjected to the same scrutiny. They get thanked for carrying on Parker’s legacy while you guys get branded rip off artists.

David, now that I’ve vented, I want to talk about your new album Here & Gone. It’s a grand gesture of appreciation to every blues musicians who influenced you such as former employers Albert King and Little Minton. Both men would dig this album, and Hank Crawford would too.

David the collaborations on this session worked. Sometimes albums filled with collaborations are overwrought. The stars you selected, however, are versatile, and they complement you. On I’m Going to Move to the Outskirts of Town, Eric Clapton wailed and begged better than a seasoned panhandler.

Pop siren Joss Stone, On I Believe to My Soul voice aches with cries out like her sorority sister shipped town with her fiancée. You support and comfort her. David, you’re not a rip off artist. You’re a serious musician, and you keep making wonderful music.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I just finished listening to your sophomore album Gerald Cleaver’s Detroit for the tenth time. I love the band’s work ethic and your leadership style. I especially like saxophonists Andrew Bishop and J.D. Allen. Bishop has been your running buddy for years, but where have you been hiding this Allen fellow. Man, he almost stole the show. He could’ve been easily mistaken as the session’s leader. I bet that would’ve upset you one bit. You never made a fuss about sharing the spotlight. Gerald I suspect you learned that from your dad John Cleaver. He's a no frills elegant drummer.

You’re not a showoff either. On the many albums you’ve graced, you seemed to have understood implicitly one of the drummer responsibilities is to do the band's dirty work. You’ve never through temper tantrums because you weren’t getting enough attention.

Backing vocalist Rene’ Marie and saxophonist Lotte Anker you were a gentleman. You never over powered them. You remind me of one of Blue Note Record’s great session drummer Joe Chambers. Gerald Cleaver’s Detroit is a love letter addressed to Detroit, your hometown. The guys you assembled share your blue collar work ethic. You gave each a chance to shine.

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and saxophonist J. D. Allen spoke their peace on Pilgrim’s Progress. Pianist Ben Waltzer and Andrew Bishop played tug-of-war on Grateful. And throughout bassist Chris Lightcap worked harder than a sharecropper. On Detroit (Keep It in Mind) the band engaged in a listenable collective improvisation. You all weren’t just in the studio making a lot of noise

Gerald I have to be straight with you, I liked this album more than your first, Adjust. I didn’t get what you tried to convey. It was too far out for my taste, but Gerald Cleaver’s Detroit I immediately fell head over heels for.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Trumpeter Rayse Biggs Bassist Ralph Armstrong tried damn hard to get the audience to buy into his comic shtick Thursday evening at the Music on the Plaza, a weekly concert series held on St. Clair Street in downtown Grosse Pointe, MI. As a sideman, Armstrong has worked with a bunch of prominent musicians such as saxophonist Eddie Harris, vocalist Aretha Franklin, soul crooner Curtis Mayfield, and pianist Herbie Hancock, just to list a few. For a number of years, Armstrong has been the workhorse in saxophonist James Carter’s quintet responsible for the bulk of the manual labor.

Thursday was the first time I experienced Armstrong as a bandleader. Watching him clown was tough because I genuinely admire him. He's a standout in a city top heavy with bass players. It's not uncommon, however, for a musician of Armstrong's caliber to have a bad night. Armstrong and his band faced a crowd that unfamiliar with his track record and who were obviously disinterested in his jokes. Most of the audience probably didn't have anything better to do, and felt it was too nice of a summer evening to waste at home watching sitcom reruns. Armstrong tried to perk up the crowd with some jokes when he should've just played.

Armstrong felt it necessary to prefaced each selection his quartet played with a corny joke. The jokes weren't remotely relevant to the compositions the band performed. For example, before they played Just Friends, the first song on their set list, Armstrong encouraged the crowd to continue to support the arts. Then he shamelessly quipped that if not for the arts instead of entertaining them he would probably be mugging them. The audience became so quite you could literally hear a cricket pissing on a piece of cotton.

He poke fun at the mayor of Detroit who the police arrested hours before Armstrong took the stage. I had an urge to heckled the bassist, but when the audience did not respond to his jokes, Armstrong and pianist Henry Gibson played a duet on Dear Old Stockholm. When they played the last note, I wanted to rush the stage and yell:"Yeah, Ralph that's what we came to hear!" Unfortunately, I never got the chance because the bassist told another lame joke about wanting to help the mayor pay his legal tab.

The bassist's jokes received a few chuckles. Overall, his shtick bombed. I mean really bombed. Most of the jokes were inappropriate. I wanted Armstrong to just play, but he stuck to his game plan.

Trumpeter Rayse Biggs clowned, too. On the Divorce Blues, Biggs played the trumpet and the flugelhorn simultaneously. The crowd went nuts. Then, for no apparent reason, the trumpeter literally started speaking in tongue. After biggs finished mumbling, I surveyed the audience for the their reactions. They looked outright confused.

I’ve experienced Armstrong at the top of his game on many occasions, and I think he’s a good reputable musician, but I can’t figure out why he behaved so foolishly.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Dear Evan Perri,

A few weeks back, the folks at Mack Avenue Records sent me an advance copy of the Hot Club of Detroit new album Night Town, the follow up to the quintet’s 2006 highly touted self-titled debut. Evan, before I explain why I love this release so, I have a confession. Before Night Town hit record stores the editor of the Metrotimes, W. Kim Heron, asked me if I’d be interested in profiling your band. I turned the assignment down because I wasn’t familiar enough with the quintet’s material.

Evan, after listening to Night Town, I regretted not accepting the assignment because I’ve been unable to tear my ears always from the album. I wondered how the Hot Club of Detroit formed. I did some digging.

I read you became a devotee of Gypsy Swing and Django Reinhardt after hearing the guitarist play Honeysuckle Rose on one of the Hot Club de France’s recordings. That was your introduction to Gypsy Swing, a form of jazz Reinhardt pioneered as the co-leader of the Hot Club de France.

You master Reinhardt’s style. Then in 2003 you recruited saxophonist Carl Cafagna, accordionist Julien Labro, bassist Shannon Wade and guitarist Paul Brady, your classmates at Wayne State University. You taught them how to play Gypsy Swing. In 2006, the Hot Club of Detroit signed with Mack Ave Records. Since then, you guys have won a slew of awards.

Studying Reinhart’s music, you learned a drummer-less and a piano-less rhythm section could still swing hard. You wanted the Hot Club of Detroit to be unconventional not merely a carbon copy of Reinhart’s band.

Of the 15 selections on Night Town, four were Reinhardt’s. Evan, on this sophomore outing, the Hot Club of Detroit sung hard. Saxophonist Carl Cafagna and accordionist Julien had a grand time riffing and horsing around on the Blues Up and Down. Cafagna knows how to get to the point. And Julien Labro nickname ought to be the Bud Powell of the accordionist, the way he zipped up and down the chord changes.

Evan did you feel Reinhardt’s spirit was present during the making of Night Town? You strummed the guitar as if Reinhardt’s spirit was in your fingers on Django’s Monkey and Speevy. Night Town is a solid follow up album. The quintet has perfected its niche.

Evan is it too premature to inquire about The Hot Club of Detroit’s next project. If welcome suggestions, I have one I think would excite Reinhardt if he was still alive. The quintet could tackle some Motown classic, and you could even tentatively title the project Gypsy Swingin’ in the Streets.

Sincerely yours,
Charles L. Latimer

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I’m glad you decided to stick around. It’s passed 2:00am. My blog is usually closed for the night, but it’s not often I get the opportunity to chat face to face with a living icon. Mr. Nelson the next round is on the house. By the way, who convinced you to collaboration with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis? Kudos to the individual or committee who felt this collaboration would fly.

You have to admit, it was a risky venture. You and Wynton are from different corners of the music world. You’re a Country and Western legend, and Wynton is a polished jazz traditionalist.

I was hesitant about purchasing Two Men with the Blues. I’m familiar with Wynton track record, but I’m unfamiliar with yours. That’s wasn’t the reason I was reluctant. I didn’t think you guys would click. I was wrong.

Yesterday, I gave Two Men with the Blues my undivided attention. This album could be classified as a Blues oriented jam session led by two uninhibited pros. It was recorded live at the Lincoln Center, but it could’ve taken place in an after hours dive. You showed up with your acoustic guitar in tow, and Wynton with his trumpet. Before you guys began the session, Wynton removed his suit jacket and loosened his necktie. You hung up your cowboy hat, and slipped off your boots.

Wynton kicked things off, doodling with the melody to Bright Lights Big City, altering some chords here and there. You chimed right in. Barefooted you sort of strolled through Stardust and Ain’t Nobody’s Business. On Night Life and Georgia on My Mind you spilled your guts.

Throughout this album you guys reminisced. Mr. Nelson Isn’t the Blues about unburdening yourself? Two Men with the Blues wasn’t just a bunch of bellyaching. Overall, the album worked. You look as if you’re really to leave. Before you split, have another round on the house.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Keyboardist Gerard Gibbs It was supposed to be Christian McBride’s official introduction to Detroit’s jazz community, a two set performance held at the legendary jazz club Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, but the bassist was upstage by keyboardist Gerard Gibbs. Gibbs' trio accompanied McBride. Someone should've had a pep talk with Gibbs for the gig began, informing the keyboardist that McBride was the star. And it would be appreciated if he refrained from his customary antics.

The keyboardist, a notorious show-boater, spent the greater part of the first set acting a fool and man-handling his instrument. On the opening selection, Gibbs went straight into his usual hey-mom-look-at-me act. This was pretty much his attitude during the first set.

McBride, a seasoned bandleader, couldn’t humble Gibbs. McBride spent most of the set trying to reel Gibbs back on track. McBride couldn’t contain the annoying ball-hog. McBride gave up and went with the flow.

When McBride found the space, he solos were short and sweet. At one point, the band cleared the stage so McBride could play alone. The ballad he played was so heartfelt it could’ve made the devil cry. The capacity crowd finally got the chance for a brief moment to experience the wonderful bassist uninterrupted. As the guys returned to the stage, Gibbs yelled to the audience: “Aw that was pretty”. Again he averted the attention to himself.

Gibbs is so selfish he didn’t allow the bassist to enjoy the spotlight. Gibbs returned to whipping the piano as if he was mad at it. Even his drummer, Jabari, (he doesn’t use his surname) wearing a suede cowboy hat and matching cowboy boots on one of the humid nights of the year, ventured into show-boat mode, banging away like he was auditioning for a heavy metal band.

The only member of Gibbs’ trio who bonded with McBride was guitarist Perry Hughes. With his black cap turned backward, Hughes set on a stool and cruised through the set. For some reason, he didn’t a take solo.

Thanks to Gibbs antics the audience didn’t get a chance to experience all McBride has to offer, and to give him the welcome he so deserves.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Trombonist Vincent Chandler Dear Vincent,

I’m writing this blog to express the hurt I felt when I heard Urban Transport broke up. I know it’s been nearly one year now, and that’s a long time to keep my feelings about the band’s separation bottled up, but I could never find the right combination of words to express my hurt. I wondered why you, alto saxophonist Dean Moore, drummer Sean Dobbins, and bassist Yusef Deas decided to stop performing together. You guys were so compatible.

Urban Transport was my favorite Detroit based jazz band. I thought the group would stay together forever. You guys put in a lot of man hours perfecting the quintet’s sound. I can’t think of one jazz band from Detroit that only performed original music.

You always wanted Urban Transport to be taken seriously. I still think about the reception the quintet got at the 2005 Detroit International Jazz Festival. Of the performances at that fest, Urban Transport received one of the few standing ovation. You blushed when the audience stood up and begged for an encore.

Backstage a fellow from out of town told me he never imagined an ensemble of twenty-something musicians could be so poised and play so soulfully. Man that was a memorable afternoon.But you weren’t satisfied. You wanted the band to be a featured act on the main stage. In an interview for a story I wrote about Urban Transport published in the Metrotimes you told me the group rehearsed religiously because you didn’t want the group to be perceived as a jam session band.

Vincent, I never told you I’ve been a big fan since you were one of the late tenor saxophonist Donald Walden’s pupils. I watched you grow into to an exception trombonist and bandleader.

As the leader of Urban Transport, you treated Moore, Dobbins and Deas like equal partners. You encouraged them to write, and you never hogged the spotlight. I respect you for that.

I found out about the break up last year. I noticed Urban Transport wasn’t on the lineup for the 2007 Detroit International Jazz Festival. I talked to Bill Higgins, the drummer for Bop Culture, at the fest. I asked him why you guys weren’t performing. He said you moved to New York to be with your wife. Initially, I thought the group had irreconcilable issues.

A few months ago I went to Bert’s Marketplace to hear Moore’s new band, the Dean Moore Quartet. Moore and I chatted after the first set. He said the split was consensual. The guys knew you wanted to be in New York with your wife. And you encouraged them to pursue other endeavors. Moore said you’re doing great in New York.

Your ex-band mates are succeeding. Several months ago Dobbins released his first album as the leader of Sean Dobbins and the New Jazz Messengers. Moore is composing for his band the Dean Moore Quartet, and Deas is gigging steadily. Vincent, I really miss Urban Transport. I hope you guys reunite soon.