Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe
This swanky restaurant and lounge is a throwback to the halcyon days of jazz, with it's rich decor and the sounds of jazz masters piped in when live music is not being performed. In addition to a fine dining menu, which includes Kobe burgers with foie gras and Chicken and waffles, there is an expansive and fully stocked bar. Prominently featured at the bar is a painting from the 1800s, which is the crowning jewel of the decor. Live music is offered every night that the Dirty Dog Jazz Café is open and reservations are strongly recommended. dirtydogjazz.com
Tbone Paxton & the RJ Spangler Quartet
Many of the tunes on “Back in Your Own Backyard” were curated for their powerful lyrics, and “Room with a View of the Blues” is no exception. It’s a song that Tbone performed regularly with one of the world’s great soul and bluesmen, the late Johnny Adams. It speaks to the loneliness of finding yourself in a place where you’re not with another person, and the longing for that missing connectedness. The lyrics are heavy with a sense of loss, and Tbone’s interpretation is fraught with honesty and emotion.
The paired down arrangement on the track is decidedly bluesy. The horns are simple and the solos, as any good blues tune should be, feature guitar and piano.
Perhaps one of the reasons “Back in Your Own Backyard” hits you in all the right places is that Tbone draws on the strengths of the musicians on the record.
“It’s not just about ‘what can you play for me,’” he says of the sessions and the session players, “but ‘what ideas can you contribute to the success of the track?’ Everybody had great suggestions. It was very collaborative.”
On the tune “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying,” Tbone worked with saxophonist and arranger Keith Kaminski to come up with a three-part expansion on Louis Jordan’s original intro. With the alto saxophone playing that familiar melody, Kaminski’s arrangement voices it down through the section with the trumpet playing the second voice and the tenor sax playing the third.
The album’s lone instrumental is “Petite Fleur” by legendary New Orleans clarinetist Sidney Bechet. Chris Tabaczyski’s metal clarinet does a beautiful job mimicking the brightness of the soprano saxophone Bechet was known to play. The arrangement features a fluid musical conversation between Tabaczyski and Tbone, each in turn playing the melody, while the other plays harmony around him, always in the open space, never on top. Then each time they came to a big turnaround, they played in two-part harmony. The resulting mood is exotic and plaintiff; dual like the light at twilight.
Tbone’s performance throughout the record is much like his live performances. Behind the trombone, he connects with his audience through his soulful phrasing and sense of swing. When he steps out as a singer, he breaks down the distance between the music and the listener with a vocal delivery that imbues the lyrics with personal meaning. When he sings, he feels it, and so do you.
“My perspective is from live performance,” he says. “It’s what I’ve done my whole life. My main concern as an artist is to be emotionally honest and authentic. When you do that, people get it. They understand the music.”
Common Tones - Randy Napoleon
This is some
of Napoleon’s best work to date. While he rises to the level of mastery modeled
by his teachers and mentors, you can hear his openness to the influences of new
and emerging voices. His writing and arrangements are melodically memorable and
not shy of surprises.
Evidence of Soul and Body - Miles Brown
“The album…is a tribute to music and family,” says Brown. “We created something that grew from the family that surrounds us, supports us and inspires us.”
The format of Evidence of Soul and Body is traditional. The sound world is the acoustic jazz quintet, and there are about an equal number of standards as there are originals. But the arrangements and performances reflect the distinct influences of Brown and the other musicians: drummer Sean Dobbins, pianist Xavier Davis, saxophonist Diego Rivera, and his father, guitarist Steve Brown. The mood of the record is joyful throughout, which Brown attributes to his appreciation for the players.
Detroit Tenors’ self titled release
“People love hearing two saxophones,” says tenor player Steve Wood. “But it’s more than just the idea of the conflict. I think another thing that people like about it is that both guys are playing the same instrument, but they sound completely different. It’s kind of interesting how two people can take the same instrument and yet sound so totally unlike each other.”
Wood studied music at one of the country’s first jazz programs, under the direction of Marvin “Doc” Holiday at Oakland University. He’s one of the two tenor saxophone players featured in Detroit Tenors. The group’s debut Detroit Music Factory recording, by the same name, is very much about the two-tenor saxophone tradition in jazz.
Detroit Tenors the record, like Detroit Tenors the band, is a shared vision between Wood and fellow tenor saxophone player, Carl Cafagna.
“Carl is a great saxophone player,” says Wood about Cafagna, who studied jazz at Berklee College of Music and created most of the arrangements on Detroit Tenors.
“He’s had some great teachers and it really shows.”