Planet D Nonet Hitting the Ballrooms

published May 28, 2015 | posted by detroit

By Anne Seebaldt

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Once upon a time, Detroit was filled with glittering palaces — such as the Michigan Theater, the Flame Show Bar, the Bluebird Inn and the Grande Ballroom, where thousands danced their nights away to the sounds of their favorite bands, including many world-class talents.

The music of this era is now known as the “Great American Songbook,” considered by many to be the only truly American art form. Detroit played a large role in this process.

“We have all grown up to the melody of these songs and remember the moments they have captured,” explained Pam Jaslove of the Pam Jaslove Quartet.

The quartet will perform selections from the songbook for their performance, “Songs and Stories from the Ballrooms of Detroit” at 6:30 p.m. June 17 at the Southfield Public Library meeting room, 26300 Evergreen Road in Southfield.

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PJQ will perform music expressing Detroit’s trademark brand of grit, energy, hope, class and style.

Concert selections will include great songs written between 1912 and the 1960s, featuring well-known music composers including Irving Berlin, Rogers and Hart, George and Ira Gershwin and Fats Waller as well as some written by lesser-known, equally talented musicians and lyricists.

These songs were performed by legendary names such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Peggy Lee and Anita O’Day. They’re been played and recorded countless times around the world, have stood the test of time and can measure up even today, going toe to toe with modern hits.

Jaslove, whose musical interest and talent has a wide range, has done Top 40, standards and swing at weddings, parties, events and clubs. She has performed with the Schoolcraft College Big Band and The Oakland University Jazz Choir as well as the SwingTones and other projects she has started. She was a founding member of Cher-Chez le Femme, an Andrew Sisters act.

For more than 45 years of playing experience, James O’Donnell has traveled the world playing the trumpet. He is co-leader of the award winning Planet D Nonet and has earned a reputation as one of Detroit’s premiere trumpet players. His talents don’t stop there: his voice brings to mind legendary singers such as Louis Armstrong.

Keyboardist Ed Wells moved to Detroit from his native Boston in 1991 to aid in the reopening of the Gem Theatre; he liked it so much that he stayed, directing music at the Gem for 17 years. Wells greatly enjoys the historic and excellent Detroit music scene.

Drummer R.J. Spangler has been a fixture for many years in Detroit. Co-founder of the Sun Messengers, he has played coast to coast in both the U.S. and Canada as well as Europe on many occasions. He serves as a guiding force behind Planet D Nonet.

The concert is sponsored by Southfield Public Library, Southfield-The Center of it All, Friends of the Southfield Public Library and Detroit Blues Society.

Cost for “Songs and Stories from the Ballrooms of Detroit” is $5, payable in cash at the door. Those with a Southfield Public Library card get a $2 discount. Children younger than 12 get in free.

For more information, call the library at 248-796-4200.

The Oakland Press

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