Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR Michigan Tour Diary — Day 7 April 17 Berkley and Ann Arbor
Returning to Southern Michigan after our adventures in the Great White North, today I led a workshop at Berkley High School and played a concert at Ann Arbor's celebrated Kerrytown Concert House.
Warmest thanks to founder and artistic director Deanna Relyea for creating such a beautiful listening room and including us on the KCH schedule.
What a privilege to collaborate with such talents as these: the brilliant young Detroit saxophonist Marcus Elliot,whose debut album I absolutely love; Quad Cities pianist Corey Kendrick, enthusiastically recommended to me by Reggie Thomas; veteran bassist Tom Knific, a world class musician, mentor and friend since my Interlochen days; and rising star Sean Dobbins, that all-too-rare sort of drummer who simmers with quiet intensity, and then—at just the right moment—turns on the swang!
And what an honor to perform for and meet one of my longtime idols, jazz master Marcus Belgrave!
Mr. Belgrave and his lovely wife Joan (a vocalist I knew years ago in San Francisco) are pillars of the Michigan arts community and two of the warmest, most soulful people on the planet. Sassy and I are looking forward to getting together with them again next week.
If I accomplish nothing else on this tour, I did at least survive the terrifying and humbling (yet thrilling) experience of playing 'Stardust' in front of the great Marcus Belgrave.
Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR Michigan Tour Diary — Day 6 April 13-16 Dearborn to Escanaba to Southfield
Brrrr! Who knew Michigan in April would be a scene from Currier & Ives?
Three cheers for Sassy, my amazing girlfriend, driver and tour manager, who celebrates her birthday today after a harrowing drive to the Upper Peninsula and back!
That's 13 hours and 900 miles in the snow, hands gripping the wheel at 10 and 2, eyes on the icy road ahead, ever vigilant that Kamikaze Bambi could dart out from winter wonderland at any moment.
Not an easy drive, but we made it, safe and sound. Taught two high school workshops on opposite sides of the state. Even had time to pause and enjoy a delicious Yooper Pasty in the quaint little town of Escanaba before heading south again.
Now we're relaxing in a nice warm hotel, car parked, nothing on the schedule... until tomorrow, when it all starts up again.
Dmitri Matheny Group JAZZ NOIR Michigan Tour Diary — Day 2 April 11 Traverse City, MI
After a four-hour flight to Detroit and a four-hour drive north through mist and fog, dodging deer along the way, we've arrived in Traverse City.
TC is a small town (only 15,000 residents) but is the largest city in Northern Michigan, and something of a tourist destination. Situated on Grand Traverse Bay, Traverse is the self-proclaimed Cherry Capital of the US, and also produces wine grapes. Vacationing midwesterners come here for the freshwater beaches, vineyards, hiking and skiing.
Surprisingly, they're here now. Our hotel is full up with families, which seems odd, because it's so cold outside, with ice and snow piled up along the roadside. Why vacation now? Is it spring break? So many kids.
I hope a few of the older folks come to hear us tonight. It's always a white knuckle ride, arriving in a new place, wondering if anyone knows or cares that you're in town. You send announcements to traditional and social media, maybe do a couple of radio interviews, then it's out of your hands, entirely up to the Fates.
This morning at breakfast I perused the local paper, searching vainly for a photo listing or any mention at all. Nope! No arts coverage. Just sports, real estate, gossip and TV listings.
Will they come?
Hope so! Regardless, I'm looking forward to the experience.
Traverse City holds much nostalgia for me.
30 years ago, when I was a teenager at Interlochen, we would come here on semi-chaperoned weekend bus trips to stroll around the shops, go to the movies and hang out away from campus.
I held hands with my high school crush here.
I also played my first ever paid gig in this town, a private party at the Maritime Hall.
Our little jazz quintet only knew six tunes from memory.
Phoenix Friends! Come to The Nash on March 8 for the latest iteration of our popular JAZZ NOIR show, featuring modern masterworks by Quincy Jones, Charlie Haden and Henry Mancini, classic movie music from Touch of Evil, Laura, Chinatown, Vertigo, Taxi Driver, and Blues in the Night, noir themes from favorite spy thrillers, detective shows and cop dramas, hard-boiled Matheny originals Crime Scenes, Femme Fatale and Sagebrush Rebellion, and timeless standards from the Great American Songbook. Join us! ~DM